Artificial Turf: Contested Terrains for Precautionary Public Health with Particular Reference to Europe?
2. Scale of Usage and Possible Exposures to Chemicals and Metals
3. The Debate about Hazards and Risks of Crumb Rubber
4. Incomplete Knowledge
5. Studies Indicating Probable Safety for Users and Producers
6. Studies Indicating Potential Health Problems for Pitch and Playground Users and Workers in Manufacture
7. Regulatory and Research Agency Actions and Regulatory Standards in Europe
- Consider changes to the REACH Regulation to ensure rubber granules were only supplied with very low concentrations of PAHs and any other relevant hazardous substances.
- Ask owners and operators of existing (outdoor and indoor) fields to measure PAH and other substances’ concentrations in rubber granules used in their fields and making such information available to interested parties in an understandable manner.
- Ask producers of rubber granules and their interest organizations to develop guidance to help all manufacturers and importers of (recycled) rubber infill test their material.
- Ask European sports and football associations and clubs to work with the relevant producers to ensure information related to the safety of rubber granules in synthetic turfs is communicated in a manner understandable to the players and the general public.
- Have owners and operators of existing indoor fields with rubber granule infills ensure adequate ventilation.
- Recommend players using the synthetic pitches to take basic hygiene measures after playing on artificial turf containing recycled rubber granules.
Conflicts of Interest
|CARACAL||the EU Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP|
|ECHA||European Chemical Agency|
|ETRMA||European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association|
|FIFA||Fédération Internationale de Football Association|
|HSE||UK Health and Safety Executive|
|KEMI||Swedish Chemicals Agency|
|PAHs||polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons|
|REACH||European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006|
|RIVM||Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment|
|VOCs||volatile organic compounds|
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|Subject||Type of Study/Methods/Size/Strengths and Weaknesses||Reference||Results|
|Environmental and health assessment of the use of elastomer granulates (virgin and from used tires) as filling in third-generation artificial pitches.||Lab-based using scenarios including looking at one pitch monitored over 11 months period and analysing VOC and metals including impacts on the wider environment and an evaluation of health risks from gas emissions. Total VOC for artificial turf was 8.3 μg/m−3 at 28 days. Relatively small study but one of the few to address risks to workers installing surfaces||||VOCs and formaldehyde were either very or relatively low with levels highest and were not considered a health threat to sports people and spectators from crumb rubber. Largest risk was to workers laying turf over a 5 years period in small and poorly ventilated buildings.|
|Hydroxypyrene in urine football players after playing on artificial sports field with tire crumb infill.||Studied 7 non-smoking players aged 21 or more exposed for 2.5 h over 3 days period with intensive contact with crumb rubber. Lab-based plus only widely cited human biomonitoring study of crumb rubber chemicals. Very small study in scope, length and partly funded by industry. Controls for doses from other sources that may accumulate with crumb rubber chemicals||||The researchers found no or minimal exposure to certain chemicals from urine samples and within range of uptake from environmental sources and/or diet. The total PAH of the pitch crumb rubber concentration was 24 mg/kg|
|Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields. New York.||US study using artificial bio fluids looked at 8 artificial fibres, 8 infills and samples from 7 fields||||Chemical exposures often below detection levels and metals at levels of “low” estimated human risks with the possible exception of lead.|
|Human Health Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf in Connecticut.||Air sampling from 1 indoor pitch with no active ventilation and 4 outdoor pitches in summer conditions. Testing for chemicals. Small study, limited range and researchers considered benzene levels recorded above background levels could have been due to personal sampling equipment problems. Ingestion potential not part of study||||27 chemicals of concern at above background levels found and possibly field related in all 4 locations but the study concluded none were associated with elevated health risks. Benzothiazole on one pitch recorded at 6.5 μg/m3 on surface.|
|Artificial turf pitches—an assessment of health risks for football players. Oslo, Norway.||Exposure study based on 3 halls with granulates laid at different times and of different materials. Small study using scenarios of limited range. Study informed later inhalation and oral exposure studies.||||Estimated that health risks were low|
VOC exposure inhalation
Adults = 0.32 m3/kg body wt/day
Juniors = 0.16 m3/kg body wt/day
|An assessment of health risks for football players and the environment. National Institute of Public Health, Norway||Based on 3 reports. Weaknesses were that data on oral rubber intake were lacking, many VOCs monitored were not classified so health risks were unknown, many VOCs only had acute and not chronic effect classifications. It did note “artificial turf that contains substances of very high concern should not be used”||||Estimated that health risks were low.|
Children may swallow some rubber
granulate (1.0 g) during matches and/or training sessions
Worst case inhalation measurements in Manglerudhallen (recycled rubber granulates), 234 different chemicals were found. This gave a total VOC of approximately 716 μg/m3 (indoor house VOC of 200 μg/m3)
|Measurement of air pollution in indoor artificial turf halls||Measurements taken in a hall with recently laid rubber granulate (SBR rubber or Styrene Butadiene Rubber), a hall with rubber granulate (SBR rubber) which had been in use for one year and a hall with granulate made from thermoplastic elastomer. Noted gaps in literature on materials, some compounds not identified and some not studied.||||Found low levels of many chemicals but noted “due to the dimensions of a football pitch, inadequate product research before launching a product will lead to a risk of undesirable exposure to chemicals with adverse health effects”|
|Evaluation of health risks of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate||Literature review and analysis of rubber granulate from 100 Dutch pitches. 720 samples taken from 6 positions on each pitch. Limited number of migration tests used. Used artificial sweat and assessed migration of chemicals. Developed exposure scenarios for children including goalkeepers and adults. Recognition that the chemical exposures recorded in the study met general European limits for mixtures but would not meet the toy and consumer limit exposure limits. Assumes epidemiological studies reviewed are capable of assessing cancer risk but this is contested.||||“Health risk of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with an infill of rubber granulate is virtually Negligible”. Maximum pitch concentration found for BaP was 2.2 mg/kg dry matter Noted 2 earlier studies in Europe reported higher concentration of BaP than theirs with maximum values of 8.58 and 11 mg/kg. Low level of toluene, xylene and styrene detected but no benzene.|
|Subject||Type of Study/Methods/Size/Strengths and Weaknesses||Reference||Results|
|Contents of metals and chemicals in artificial turf. Lab-based and exposure study||Recycled rubber granulate content from 13 Italian fields. Analysis of 25 metals, 9 PAHs. Air samples from 2 fields. Small sample size and lack of actual exposure scenarios issues.||||BaP and zinc levels in granulate exceeded Italian “green” soil standards by 2 orders of magnitude. Worst case excess cancer risk assessment of BaP in air was 1 × 10−6. over 30 years at 0.4 ng/m3|
|Hazardous organic chemicals in rubber recycled tire playgrounds and pavers. Lab-based||21 rubber mulch samples collected from 9 different urban playgrounds and 7 commercial paver samples from a store. Analysis done for 31 PAHs, phthalates, anti-oxidants and of vapour phase above samples. Relatively small sample size, other sources of chemicals question raised.||||High levels of several toxic chemicals found in the recycled materials especially BaP found in 5 samples. PAHs in commercial pavers was “extremely high”, up to 1%|
|PAHs, heavy metals release from rubber crumb in synthetic turf fields. Lab-based||Lab analysis of 9 football pitch samples of rubber crumb normally found in tires and their metals and PAHs. Risk assessment at 25 °C was done. Study preliminary and relatively small and acknowledges risk assessment over-estimates PAH contribution from fields.||||Toxic equivalent of evaporates from crumb rubber “not negligible” and represented major part of total daily PAH intake by different routes. Noted “continuous release” of PAHs from evaporation and issue of chronic exposure|
|Threshold levels for carcinogens and policy implications of the NIOSH analysis||Review of chemical carcinogens policy. Looks at classification risk management limits and advocacy of a policy of elimination or substitution and implementation of engineering controls. Limitations include its purpose is to consider worker exposure although exposures to carcinogens do not differentiate between worker, consumer and citizen and the precautionary principle applies across the board.||||“Underlying this policy is the recognition that there is no known safe level of exposure to a carcinogen and therefore that reduction of worker exposure to chemical carcinogens as much as possible through elimination or substitution and engineering controls is the primary way to prevent occupational cancer”|
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Watterson, A. Artificial Turf: Contested Terrains for Precautionary Public Health with Particular Reference to Europe? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1050. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14091050
Watterson A. Artificial Turf: Contested Terrains for Precautionary Public Health with Particular Reference to Europe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017; 14(9):1050. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14091050Chicago/Turabian Style
Watterson, Andrew. 2017. "Artificial Turf: Contested Terrains for Precautionary Public Health with Particular Reference to Europe?" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14, no. 9: 1050. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14091050