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Research & Latest Thinking

What do the Experts Say?

Science is an important focus for the STC. That's why we actively collect independent research and studies from third-party organizations about synthetic turf and its system components under the following topics: 


Player Performance & Risk of Injury »

Playing Surface Technical Analysis 3

FIFA, Prozone Study, 2011

Epidemiology of Patellar Tendinopathy in Elite Male Soccer Players

Hagglund, M., PT, PhD; Zwerver, J., MD, PhD; Ekstrand, J., MD, PhD, American Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2011, 0363546511408877

  • Patellar tendinopathy is a relatively mild but fairly common condition among elite soccer players, and the recurrence rate is high.
  • This study investigated the epidemiology of patellar tendinopathy in 2,229 elite male soccer players from 51 European elite soccer clubs playing on natural grass and synthetic turf between 2001 and 2009.Objective: To compare the risk for acute injuries between natural grass (NG) and third-generation artificial turf (3GAT) in male professional football.
  • Conclusion: "Exposure to artificial turf did not increase the prevalence or incidence of injury.”

Risk of Injury on Third Generation Artificial Turf in Norwegian Professional Football

Bjørneboe J, Bahr R, Andersen TE, 2010 British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44: 794-798.

  • Methods: All injuries sustained by players with a first-team contract were recorded by the medical staff of each club, from the 2004 throughout the 2007 season. An injury was registered if the player was unable to take fully part in football activity or match play.
  • Results: A total of 668 match injuries, 526 on grass and 142 on artificial turf, were recorded. The overall acute match injury incidence was 17.1 (95% CI 15.8 to 18.4) per 1000 match hours; 17.0 (95% CI 15.6 to 18.5) on grass and 17.6 (95% CI 14.7 to 20.5) on artificial turf. Correspondingly, the incidence for training injuries was 1.8 (95% CI 1.6 to 2.0); 1.8 (95% CI 1.5 to 2.0) on grass and 1.9 (95% CI 1.5 to 2.2) on artificial turf respectively. No significant difference was observed in injury location, type or severity between turf types.
  • Conclusion: No significant differences were detected in injury rate or pattern between 3GAT and NG in Norwegian male professional football.

Comparison of Injuries Sustained on Artificial Turf and Grass by Male and Female Elite Football Players

Ekstrand J, Hägglund M, Fuler CW, 2010, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01118.x

  • The objective of this study was to compare incidences and patterns of injury for female and male elite teams when playing football on artificial turf and grass. Twenty teams (15 male, 5 female) playing home matches on third-generation artificial turf were followed prospectively; their injury risk when playing on artificial turf pitches was compared with the risk when playing on grass. Individual exposure, injuries (time loss) and injury severity were recorded by the team medical staff. In total, 2105 injuries were recorded during 246000h of exposure to football. Seventy-one percent of the injuries were traumatic and 29% overuse injuries. There were no significant differences in the nature of overuse injuries recorded on artificial turf and grass for either men or women. The incidence (injuries/1000 player-hours) of acute (traumatic) injuries did not differ significantly between artificial turf and grass, for men (match 22.4 v 21.7; RR 1.0 (95% CI 0.9–1.2); training 3.5 v 3.5; RR 1.0 (0.8–1.2)) or women [match 14.9 v 12.5; RR 1.2 (0.8–1.8); training 2.9 v 2.8; RR 1.0 (0.6–1.7)]. During matches, men were less likely to sustain a quadriceps strain (P=0.031) and more likely to sustain an ankle sprain (P=0.040) on artificial turf.

Injury Risk on Artificial Turf and Grass in Youth Tournament Football

Soligard T, Bahr R, Andersen TE, 2010, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01174.x

  • The aim of this prospective cohort study was to investigate the risk of acute injuries among youth male and female footballers playing on third-generation artificial turf compared with grass. Over 60000 players 13–19 years of age were followed in four consecutive Norway Cup tournaments from 2005 to 2008. Injuries were recorded prospectively by the team coaches throughout each tournament. The overall incidence of injuries was 39.2 (SD: 0.8) per 1000 match hours; 34.2 (SD: 2.4) on artificial turf and 39.7 (SD: 0.8) on grass. After adjusting for the potential confounders age and gender, there was no difference in the overall risk of injury [odds ratio (OR): 0.93 (0.77–1.12), P=0.44] or in the risk of time loss injury [OR: 1.05 (0.68–1.61), P=0.82] between artificial turf and grass. However, there was a lower risk of ankle injuries [OR: 0.59 (0.40–0.88), P=0.008], and a higher risk of back and spine [OR: 1.92 (1.10–3.36), P=0.021] and shoulder and collarbone injuries [OR: 2.32 (1.01–5.31), P=0.049], on artificial turf compared with on grass. In conclusion, there was no difference in the overall risk of acute injury in youth footballers playing on third-generation artificial turf compared with grass.

Very Positive Medical Research on Artificial Turf

Turf Roots Magazine 01, pp. 8-10

  • A report of medical research conducted by FIFA’s Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) comparing injuries sustained at the FIFA U-17 tournament in Peru, which was played entirely on "football turf” (synthetic turf) with the injuries sustained at previous U-17 tournaments, which were played mainly on well-manicured grass. "The research showed that there was very little difference in the incidence, nature and causes of injuries observed during those games played on artificial turf compared with those played on grass.”

Risk of Injury on Artificial Turf and Natural Grass in Young Female Football [Soccer] Players

Kathrin Steffen, Thor Einar Andersen, Roald Bahr
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007; 41:i33-i37

  • Objective: "To investigate the risk of injury on artificial turf compared with natural grass among young female football [soccer] players.”
  • Conclusion: "In the present study among young female football [soccer] players, the overall risk of acute injury was similar between artificial turf and natural grass.”

Comparison of the Incidence, Nature and Cause of Injuries Sustained on Grass and New Generation Artificial Turf by Male and Female Football Players

Colin W Fuller, Randall W Dick, Jill Corlette, Rosemary Schmalz
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007; 41 (Supplement 1):i20-i26 (Part 1: match injuries)
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007; 41 (Supplement 1):i27-i32 (Part 2: training injuries)
Abstracts available at

  • Objective: "To compare the incidence, nature, severity and cause of match injuries (Part 1) and training injuries (Part 2) sustained on grass and new generation turf by male and female footballers.”
  • Methods: The National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System was used for a two-season (August to December) prospective study of American college and university football teams (2005 season: men 52 teams, women 64 teams; 2006 season: men 54 teams, women 72 teams).
  • Conclusion of both Part 1 and Part 2: There were no major differences in the incidence, severity, nature or cause of match injuries or training injuries sustained on new generation artificial turf and grass by either male or female players.

Risk of Injury in Elite Football Played on Artificial Turf Versus Natural Grass: A prospective two-cohort study

J. Ekstrand, T. Timpka, M. Hagglund
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006; 40:975-980

  • Objective: "To compare injury risk in elite football [soccer] played on artificial turf compared with natural grass.”
  • Conclusion: "No evidence of a greater risk of injury was found when football was played on artificial turf compared with natural grass. The higher incidence of ankle sprain on artificial turf warrants further attention, although this result should be interpreted with caution as the number of ankle sprains was low.”


Environmental & Health Risk of Synthetic Turf with Crumb Rubber Infill »

ETRA: No harmful effects of using crumb tyre rubber in sports infill »


June 27, 2016

Brussels — ETRA, The European Tyre Recycling Association, has declared that there is a need for all the actors in the artificial turf sector to come together and move to refute allegations about the impact of tyre rubber granulate used in sports fields. In recent years, unfounded claims have been made that recycled tyre rubber has a harmful effect on sports players who come into contacts with the rubber infill – in particular those in goalkeeping roles.

However, despite two decades of research on the subject, funded by industry, the government and public interest groups, there is no empirical research that links tyre rubber to cancer. The USA Environmental Protection Agency lists some 41 independent projects, none of which find any harmful effects of using tyre rubber in sports infill. The Synthetic Turf Association lists another 10 such reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ cites over fifty studies on the issue.

Synthetic Turf Fields, Crumb Rubber, and Concerns about Cancer: Letter from Dr. Archie Bleyer, MD »

June 2016
In addition to a significant number of prior studies in the U.S. and Europe that do not identify any reason for concern around playing on synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill, there are three other reasons to be reassured that synthetic turf does not cause cancer.

Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) California Environmental Protection Agency Turf Study Facts & News Updates

OEHHA website, October 2009 - Current

  • This website contains study facts as well as contacts for submitting comments or questions about the project. Interested parties are invited to sign up for their listserv to receive notifications about their research findings on synthetic turf.
  • The most recent article on this site was posted on April 4, 2016 and informs that the OEHHA has requested that National Toxicology Program (NTP) conduct toxicological studies to enhance understanding of the health impacts of chemicals released from synthetic turf, with an emphasis on crumb rubber in the fields.
  • Information received from the NTP study will help OEHHA evaluate health impacts associated with the use of crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields and playground mats.

Leaching of DOC, DN and inorganic Constituents from scrap tires

Selbes, M. et al, Chemosphere, Volume 139, November 2015

  • The purpose of this peer-reviewed academic study was to examine the leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved nitrogen (DN), and selected inorganic constituents from scrap tires.
  • Different sizes of tire chips and crumb rubber were exposed to leaching solutions with pHs ranging from 3.0 to 10.0 for 28 days. The leaching of DOC and DN were found to be higher for smaller size tire chips; however, the leaching of inorganic constituents was independent of the size.
  •  In general, basic pH conditions increased the leaching of DOC and DN, whereas acidic pH conditions led to elevated concentrations of metals. Leaching was minimal around the neutral pH values for all the monitored parameters.

Comment on CPSC Report #20150608-22F81-2147431268
Assessment of the risk of cancer posed by rubber mulch used in playgrounds

Laura C. Green, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., June 29, 2015

  • This letter-report from noted toxicologist, Laura C. Green, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., details the evidence that leads her to conclude that rubber mulch for playgrounds and crumb rubber infill for synthetic turf sports fields “…is neither known nor reasonably expected to cause cancer, and is otherwise safe for use….”  Significantly, she further states, “More generally, no type of cancer in adolescents is known to be caused by overexposure to chemicals.”

Tabor Academy – Synthetic Turf Athletic Field Evaluation

CDM Smith, March 13, 2014

  • The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential water quality impacts of the synthetic turf field at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA.
  • Conclusion: "...stormwater runoff from the athletic field is not a source of pollutants/contaminants that would pose a threat to the harbor."

Environmental and Health Impacts of Artificial Turf: A Review

Cheng, H et al, Environmental Science & Technology, February 6, 2014

  • The purpose of this research institute peer-reviewed study was to review the state of research regarding the health assessment of artificial turf.
  • The major concerns stem from the infill material that is typically derived from scrap tires. Tire rubber crumb contains a range of organic contaminants and heavy metals that can volatilize into the air and/or leach into the percolating rainwater, thereby posing a potential risk to the environment and human health. A limited number of studies have shown that the concentrations of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in the air above artificial turf fields were typically not higher than the local background, while the concentrations of heavy metals and organic contaminants in the field drainages were generally below the respective regulatory limits.
  • Health risk assessment studies suggested that users of artificial turf fields, even professional athletes, were not exposed to elevated risks. Preliminary life cycle assessment suggested that the environmental impacts of artificial turf fields were lower than equivalent grass fields. Areas that need further research to better understand and mitigate the potential negative environmental impacts of artificial turf are identified.

Bioaccessibility and Risk of Exposure to Metals and SVOCs in Artificial Turf Field Fill Materials and Fibers

Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 170 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ, 2013

  • "The SVOCs identified based on library matches of their mass spectra were not present in toxicological databases evaluated and many are ubiquitous part of consumer products. Similarly, the metal concentrations measured in field samples indicate that the risk would be de minimus among all populations expected to use artificial turf fields.”

Review of the Human Health & Ecological Safety of Exposure to Recycled Tire Rubber found at Playgrounds and Synthetic Turf Fields

Prepared for Rubber Manufacturers Association by Cardno ChemRisk, Inc. (An independent global scientific consulting firm), August 1, 2013

  • A report by an independent environmental firm on the human health and ecological risks from ground rubber in playgrounds and sports fields, and based on a thorough review of studies from advocates and opponents to the use of recycled tire materials.

Environmental-sanitary risk analysis procedure applied to artificial turf sports fields

Ruffino, B et al, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Volume 20, July 2013

  • In this academic, peer-reviewed research paper, the authors performed a Tier 2 environmental-sanitary risk analysis on five artificial turf sports fields located in the city of Turin (Italy) with the aid of RISC4 software.
  • Two receptors (adult player and child player) and three routes of exposure (direct contact with crumb rubber, contact with rainwater soaking the rubber mat, inhalation of dusts and gases from the artificial turf fields) were considered in the conceptual model.
  • For all the fields and for all the routes, the cumulative carcinogenic risk proved to be lower than 10(-6) and the cumulative non-carcinogenic risk lower than 1.
  • The outdoor inhalation of dusts and gases was the main route of exposure for both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic substances. The results given by the inhalation pathway were compared with those of a risk assessment carried out on citizens breathing gases and dusts from traffic emissions every day in Turin.
  • For both classes of substances and for both receptors, the inhalation of atmospheric dusts and gases from vehicular traffic gave risk values of one order of magnitude higher than those due to playing soccer on an artificial field.


New approach to the ecotoxicological risk assessment of artificial outdoor sporting grounds

Kruger, O et al, Environmental Pollution, Volume 175, April 2013

  • This purpose of this peer-reviewed research institute study was to conduct growth inhibition and acute toxicity tests with leachates obtained from batch tests of granular infill material and column tests of complete sporting ground assemblies.
  • The study found no correlations between ecotoxicity potential of leachates and zinc and PAH concentrations. Leachates obtained from column tests revealed lower ecotoxicological potential. Leachates of column tests of complete assemblies may be used for a reliable risk assessment of artificial sporting grounds.

Comparison of Batch and Column Tests for the Elution of Artificial Turf System Components

Kruger, O et al., Environmental Science & Technology, November 15, 2012

  • This purpose of this peer-reviewed research institute study was to assess methods for the risk assessment of potential contaminants released from synthetic athletic tracks and turf areas.
  • Conclusions: Accompanying parameters, especially the very high turbidity of one ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM) or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) eluates, reflect the stronger mechanical stress of batch testing. This indicates that batch test procedures might not be suitable for the risk assessment of synthetic sporting ground components. Column tests, on the other hand, represent field conditions more closely and allow for determination of time-dependent contaminants release.

Zinc Leaching from Tire Crumb Rubber

Rhodes, E et al., Environmental Science & Technology, November 12, 2012

  • The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of crumb rubber size using the synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP), the effect of exposure time using quiescent batch leaching tests, and the dynamics of zinc leaching using column tests.
  • Because tires contain approximately 1–2% zinc by weight, zinc leaching is an environmental concern associated with civil engineering applications of tire crumb rubber. An assessment of zinc leaching data from 14 studies in the published literature indicates that increasing zinc leaching is associated with lower pH and longer leaching times, but the data display a wide range of zinc concentrations, and do not address the effect of crumb rubber size or the dynamics of zinc leaching during flow through porous crumb rubber.
  • Results indicate that zinc leaching from tire crumb rubber increases with smaller crumb rubber and longer exposure time. Results from SPLP and quiescent batch leaching tests are interpreted with a single-parameter leaching model that predicts a constant rate of zinc leaching up to 96 h. Breakthrough curves from column tests displayed an initial pulse of elevated zinc concentration (∼3 mg/L) before settling down to a steady-state value (∼0.2 mg/L), and were modeled with the software package HYDRUS-1D. Washing crumb rubber reduces this initial pulse but does not change the steady-state value. No leaching experiment significantly reduced the reservoir of zinc in the crumb rubber.

Artificial turf football fields: environmental and mutagenicity assessment

Department of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Torino, Italy, September 25, 2012

  • The aim of this study was to develop an environmental analysis drawing a comparison between artificial turf football fields and urban areas relative to concentrations of particles and related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aromatic hydrocarbons (BTXs), and mutagenicity of organic extracts from particles.
  • On the basis of environmental monitoring, artificial turf football fields present no more exposure risks than the rest of the city.

Health risk assessment of lead ingestion exposure by particle sizes in crumb rubber on artificial turf considering bioavailability

Kim, S et al., Korean Society of Environmental Health and Toxicology, Feb 2, 2012

  • The purpose of this peer-reviewed research institute study was to assess the risk of ingestion exposure of lead by particle sizes of crumb rubber in artificial turf infill material with consideration of bioavailability.
  • Methods: This study estimated the ingestion exposure by particle sizes (more than 250 um or less than 250 um) focusing on recyclable ethylene propylene diene monomer crumb rubber being used as artificial turf filling. Analysis on crumb rubber was conducted using body ingestion exposure estimate method in which total content test method, acid extraction method and digestion extraction method are reflected. Bioavailability which is a calibrating factor was reflected in ingestion exposure estimate method and applied in exposure assessment and risk assessment. Two methods using acid extraction and digestion extraction concentration were compared and evaluated.
  • Results: As a result of the ingestion exposure of crumb rubber material, the average lead exposure amount to the digestion extraction result among crumb rubber was calculated to be 1.56×10(-4) mg/kg-day for low grade elementary school students and 4.87×10(-5) mg/kg-day for middle and high school students in 250 um or less particle size, and that to the acid extraction result was higher than the digestion extraction result. Results of digestion extraction and acid extraction showed that the hazard quotient was estimated by about over 2 times more in particle size of lower than 250 um than in higher than 250 um. There was a case of an elementary school student in which the hazard quotient exceeded 0.1.
  • Conclusions: Results of this study confirm that the exposure of lead ingestion and risk level increases as the particle size of crumb rubber gets smaller.

Crumb Infill and Turf Characterization for Trace Elements and Organic Materials

Dr. Paul J. Lioy and Dr. Clifford Weisel, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, October 31, 2011, Submitted to NJDEP

  • This study was undertaken to conduct a thorough evaluation for bioaccessibility of hazardous chemicals within crumb infill and associated turf available for use on athletic fields and public parks using synthetic lung, sweat and digestive biofluids.
  • The study looked at trace metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and scanned for semivolatile organic compounds. In addition acid extraction for metals and high temperature volatilization for semivolatile and volatile organic compounds were done to assess total extractable levels of these compounds.
  • Overall the metals, PAHs and semivolatile compounds found all classes of materials to be at very low concentrations. Thus, for the metals and compounds identified there would be de minimus exposures and risk among anyone using fields with the exception of lead in a single new turf material.

Benzothiazole Toxicity Assessment in Support of Synthetic Turf Field Human Health Risk Assessment

Ginsberg, G et al., Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, July 28, 2011

  • The goal of this study was to assess BZT toxicity in support of a risk assessment of synthetic turf fields conducted by the Connecticut Dept of Public Health. There was a reliance upon the limited BZT  database as well as data for surrogate chemicals in order to develop toxicity values for the acute, chronic, and carcinogenic potency of BZT.
  • BZT is a precursor for rubber accelerators, a component of cyanine dyes, as slimicides in the paper and pulp industry, and used in the production of certain fungicides, herbicides, antifungal agents, and pharmaceuticals. BZT imparts a meaty, nutty, or coffee taste and thus is used in various foods as a flavoring agent at levels up to 0.5 ppm.
  • The toxicology database for BTZ is limited to short-term, subacute, and mutagenicity studies. A related chemical, 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (2MBZT), has been subjected to more extensive testing and thus used as a surrogate for some endpoints.
  • The most common exposure is ingestion of foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals that contain BZT. Inhalation is also common as this chemical is present in tobacco smoke and may be in the atmosphere from the wearing down of tires. Atmospheric forms include both the particle-bound and gaseous states.
  • New York State developed an inhalation toxicity value for BZT of 18 μg/m3 in their 2009 risk assessment. A concentration of 6.5 μg/m3 was found in 1 air sample taken at the surface of an artificial turf field in New York City under summertime conditions in full sun. BZT was not detected at this field at the 3-ft height or at the surface of another field tested under similar conditions (NYSDEC 2009).
  • Conclusions: The wide degree of uncertainty in the toxicology database is somewhat mitigated by the fact that BZT exposure is common in foods and has a relatively high acceptable daily intake as set by FDA. The lack of cancer bioassay data for BZT would normally preclude its entry into cancer risk assessment, creating the implicit assumption that it has zero potency. Our use of a published potency factor for 2MBZT enables this potential carcinogenicity to be factored into the BZT risk assessment.While there remains a large degree of uncertainty for the acute, chronic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic effects of BZT, the current approaches are a reasonable starting point for including BZT in a crumb rubber risk assessment.

An Evaluation of the Health and Environmental Impacts Associated with Synthetic Turf Playing Fields University of Connecticut Health Center

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Public Health, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, July 2010

  • The headline from the July 30, 2010 News Release from the Connecticut Department of Public Health announced, "Result of State Artificial Turf Fields Study: No Elevated Health Risk." Comprising separate reports from the four state agencies listed above, the Final Report presents the results of an extensive study into the health and environmental risks associated with outdoor and indoor synthetic turf fields containing crumb rubber infill. "This study presents good news regarding the safety of outdoor artificial turf fields," stated Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin.
  • The above link is to the Overall Executive Summary, which includes links to the News Release, the four separate reports from the state agencies, and the report by the Peer Review Committee from The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (see below).

Artificial Turf Field Investigation in Connecticut Final Report

Nancy Simcox, Anne Bracker, John Meyer, Section of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Connecticut Heath Center, July 2010

  • The primary purpose of this project was to characterize the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), rubber-related chemicals (e.g. benzothiazole), and small particulate matter and its constituents in ambient air at selected actively used crumb rubber fields in Connecticut. This report identifies and measures chemicals across several synthetic crumb rubber turf fields and background locations.
  • More research is needed to better understand chemical exposures in indoor facilities.

DEP Artificial Turf Stormwater Study

University of Connecticut Health Center, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health and DEP, July 2010

  • The CT Department of Public Health completed a study of the environmental risks associated with stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields, specifically focusing on evaluating the potential environmental risk associated with stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields that included a crumb rubber infill layer derived from recycled tires.
  • Insignificant levels of metals and semi-volatile organic compounds were detected. However, three of the eight stormwater samples showed elevated levels of zinc and were determined to be acutely toxic to aquatic organisms. The detected levels of zinc were well below groundwater protection criteria, but did exceed DEP’s acute aquatic toxicity criteria for surface waters. DEP concludes that there is a potential risk to surface waters and aquatic organisms associated with runoff from artificial turf fields.

Human Health Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Fields Based upon Results from Five Fields in Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Public Health, Program in Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment, July 2010

  • The current investigation involved air sampling at 1 indoor and 4 outdoor artificial turf fields under summer conditions in Connecticut.
  • Based upon the study’s findings, the use of outdoor and indoor artificial turf fields is not associated with elevated health risks. However, it would be prudent for building operators to provide adequate ventilation to prevent a buildup of rubber-related VOCs and SVOCs at indoor fields.

Peer Review of an Evaluation of the Health and Environmental Impacts Associated with Synthetic Turf Playing Fields

Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, June 2010

  • The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) performed a peer review of their final report on the Evaluation of the Health and Environmental Impacts Associated with Synthetic Turf Playing Fields.
  • Based on a review of the state's reports, there is limited human health risk, and an environmental risk as shown by  high zinc levels detected. Furthermore, it is believed that some of the results can be easily misinterpreted by the public.

2009 Study of Crumb Rubber Derived from Recycled Tires Final Report

Xiaolin Li, William Berger, Craig Musante, MaryJane Incorvia Mattina, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Analytical Chemistry, May 2010

  • The purpose of this work was to develop laboratory leaching protocols and simulated crumb rubber aging protocols and to develop protocols to identify comprehensively substances that volatilize and leach from crumb rubber and alternative infill materials under lab conditions.
  • Conclusions are contained in "An Evaluation of the Health and Environmental Impacts Associated with Synthetic Turf Playing Fields" (see separate citation).

Hydroxypyrene in urine of football players after playing on artificial sports field with tire crumb infill

Joost G. M. van Rooij Æ, Frans J. Jongeneelen, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, (2010) 83:105–110

  • This study provides evidence that uptake of PAH of football players active on artificial grass fields with rubber crumb infill is minimal. If there is any exposure, then the uptake is very limited and within the range of uptake of PAH from environmental sources and/or diet.

Review of the Impacts of Crumb Rubber in Artificial Turf Applications

Simon, Rachel, University of California, Berkeley, Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability, February 2010
Prepared for: The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex)

  • "The research conducted by Manex and Berkeley is among the most comprehensive reports to date, reviewing and assessing existing studies from the past 12 years, as well as containing independent analysis. The conclusions of this study validate key findings from other recent studies, demonstrating the materials are both cost-effective and safe."
  • Extensive research has pointed to the conclusion that these fields result in little, if any, exposure to toxic substances. A review of existing literature points to the relative safety of crumb rubber fill playground and athletic field surfaces. Generally, these surfaces, though containing numerous elements potentially toxic to humans, do not provide the opportunity in ordinary circumstances for exposure at levels that are actually dangerous. Numerous studies have been carried out on this material and have addressed numerous different aspects of the issue. For the most part, the studies have vindicated defenders of crumb rubber, identifying it as safe, cost-effective, and responsible use for tire rubber.
    Recent issues that have surfaced relate to Carbon Black and Lead, however, for the vast majority of applications, serious physical harm has not occurred from these particulates.
  • See April 5, 2010 Manex/UC Berkeley Press Release, Manex and UC Berkeley Issue Study on Recycled Rubber in Artificial Turf Applications

Safety Study of Artificial Turf Containing Crumb Rubber Infill Made from Recycled Tires: Measurements of Chemicals and Particulates in the Air, Bacteria in the Turf, and Skin Abrasions Caused by Contact with the Surface

Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment, Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, Editor. 2010, State of California

  • PM2.5 and associated elements (including lead and other heavy metals) were either below the level of detection or at similar concentrations above artificial turf athletic fields and upwind of the fields. No public health concern was identified.

A Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds

National Exposure Research Laboratory Office of Research and Development U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009

  • This study and statements of safety by the U.S. EPA of synthetic turf fields and playgrounds containing crumb rubber from recycled tires complements the study and statement of safety by the CPSC in 2008 (see below). In its Press Release, the EPA summarized its findings, including the following:
    • The levels of particulate matter, metals, and volatile organic compound concentrations in the air samples above the synthetic turf were similar to background levels;
    • All air concentrations of particulate matter and lead were well below levels of concern;
    • Zinc, which is a known additive in tires…was found to be below levels of concern.
  • See December 10, 2009 EPA Press Release, Limited EPA Study Finds Low Level of Concern in Samples of Recycled Tires from Ballfield and Playground Surfaces

Air Quality Survey of Synthetic Turf Fields Containing Crumb Rubber Infill

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2009

  • This survey investigated the potential release of contaminants from crumb rubber synthetic turf fields and the subsequent potential exposures in the breathing zones of young children to those airborne contaminants.
  • An analysis of the air in the breathing zones of children above synthetic turf fields does not show appreciable impacts from COPCs contained in the crumb rubber. Therefore, a risk assessment was not warranted from the inhalation route of exposure.

An Assessment of Chemical Leaching, Releases to Air and Temperature at Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Fields

Lim, L. and R. Walker, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health, Editor, 2009

  • Initial findings suggested that there was a low likelihood of risk to the environment or public health via drinking water from ground or surface water contamination.
  • Further, the concentrations of VOCs and particulate matter detected above the surface of the fields did not exceed background levels, and thus do not suggest an increased risk from the installation of these fields.

Chemicals in Outdoor Artificial Turf: A health risk for users?

Beausoleil, Monique et. al, Public Health Branch, Montreal Health and Social Services Agency, June 2009

  • This report provides an opinion about the risks that the materials used in artificial turf could pose to human health, focusing on toxicological risk of chemicals contained in or emitted by artificial turf used for outdoor sports.
  • It concludes that the health risks for players who use artificial turf are not significant and that it is completely safe to engage in sports activities on this type of outdoor field.

Zinc in Drainage Water Under Artificial Turf Fields with SBR

Hofstra, U., INTRON, March 2009

  • On the basis of the new observations, we conclude that, after 7 years of use, zinc does not penetrate the underlays. This is consistent with the laboratory tests, in which it was calculated that zinc leaching will not occur until a period of 230 to 1800 years has elapsed2. It can also be concluded that the concentrations of zinc in the drainage water are not significantly higher than the concentrations in the rainwater.
  • After 7 years, there is no evidence that the use of rubber infill poses a risk in terms of the leaching of zinc.

A Review of the Potential Health and Safety Risks from Synthetic Turf Fields Containing Crumb Rubber Infill

Elizabeth Denly, Katarina Rutkowski, Karen M. Vetrano, Ph.D., TRC, Prepared for NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, May 2008

  • To date, eleven human health risk assessments were identified that evaluated exposure to the constituents in crumb rubber. Although each risk assessment was conducted using distinct assumptions and evaluated different concentrations of COPCs (chemicals of potential concern) in crumb rubber, all had a similar conclusion: exposure to COPCs from the crumb rubber may occur, however, the degree of exposure is likely to be too small through ingestion, dermal or inhalation to increase the risk for any health effect. The risk assessments have been conducted primarily by state agencies, consultants, and industry groups.

CPSC Staff Finds Synthetic Turf Fields OK to Install, OK to Play On

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, NEWS from CPSC, July 30, 2008

  • The CPSC staff conducted tests of synthetic turf products for analysis of total lead content and accessible lead. In the above News Release it concludes that, "young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in these fields.”
  • For a summary of the analytical methods used and the test results, see CPSC Staff Analysis and Assessment of Synthetic Turf "Grass Blades".

Evaluation of Potential Environmental Risks Associated with Installing Synthetic Turf Fields on Bainbridge Island

D. Michael Johns, Ph.D., Windward Environmental LLC, Seattle, WA, February 2008

  • Review of available scientific literature and publications in order to provide an assessment about potential risks to the environment from zinc and chemicals contained in crumb rubber infill. "...water that percolates through turf fields with tire crumb is not toxic..."

Evaluation of Playing Surface Characteristics of Various In-Filled Systems

McNitt, A.S., 2008 April 9, 2008

  • Total microbial numbers were lower in synthetic turf systems when compared to natural grass fields. Staphylococcus aureus was not found on any of the playing surfaces.

Evaluation of the Environmental Effects of Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields

Bristol, S.G. and V.C. McDermott, Milone & MacBroom, Inc., December 2008

  • Heat: On hot sunny days, surface temp of the fibers was 40-50 degrees hotter than ambient temp; air temp at 2’ above surface or under cloud cover was near ambient. Crumb rubber was only a few degrees hotter than ambient. Watering the field had a short-term effect.
  • Off-gassing: EHHI identified certain compounds of concern in its very limited 2007 laboratory study of the chemicals contained in crumb rubber – benzothiazole, volatile nitrosamines, and 4-(tert-octyl) Phenol. MMI tested for these compounds in the air above the synthetic turf fields with crumb rubber infill at several locations. A "very low concentration” of benzothiazole was found at 1 of 2 fields -- the other compounds were not detected.
  • Leaching: Testing done over one year period. Test for zinc, lead, selenium, and cadmium, and compared to lowest aquatic life criterion for each element. Only zinc detected, and then well below water quality standard.

Fact Sheet: Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields

New York City Department of Health, August 2008

  • Our review of the available information on crumb rubber and crumb rubber infilled turf fields indicates that ingestion, dermal or inhalation exposures to chemicals in or released from crumb rubber do not pose a significant public health concern.

Follow-up Study of the Environmental Aspects of Rubber Infill

Hofstra, U., INTRON, 2008

  • A follow-up study was conducted to look specifically at zinc leaching from rubber infill and whether it poses a risk to the environment in the long term.
  • The zinc concentration in drainage water from 5- to 6-year-old fields is lower than the concentration in rainwater. The results did not exceed the standard for added dissolved zinc in surface water.

Initial Evaluation of Potential Human Health Risks Associated with Playing on Synthetic Turf Fields on Bainbridge Island

D. Michael Johns, Ph.D., Windward Environmental LLC, Seattle, WA, January 2008

  • Review of available scientific literature and publications in order to provide an assessment about potential risks of human health to children and teenagers and the risks to the environment from precipitation runoff.

Hazardous Chemicals in Synthetic Turf Materials and Their Bioaccessibility in Digestive Fluids

Zhang JJ, Han IK, Zhang L, Crain W. et. al, 2008

Rubber Crumb Health Risk Evaluation

Lamie, P. Memorandum to: Richard Reine, Director Concord Public Works, April 24. 2007 [cited 2008 4/28]

  • There is little exposure to and thus little risk from PAHs or other chemicals associated with ground rubber used in artificial turf fields to the human population.

Synthetic Playfields Task Force Findings and Department Recommendations

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, 2008

  • SFE recognizes that human health risks are minimal from exposure to the crumb rubber infill used with synthetic turf products, according to the OEHHA study.

Environmental and health assessment of the use of elastomer granulates (virgin and from used tyres) as infilll in third-generation artificial turf


  • According to current research, after a year’s experimentation, the results on the 42 physicochemical parameters identified and on the ecotoxocological tests show that water passing through artificial turf using as filling either virgin TPE or EPDM or granulates resulting from the recycling of PUNR are not likely to affect water resources in the short and medium term.
  • In conclusion to its study, the INERIS stipulates that the health risks associated with the inhalation of VOC and aldehydes emitted by artificial surfaces on pitches in outdoor situations present no actual cause for concern as regards human health.
  • Worst case indoor VOC and aldehyde concentrations do not pose a health concern for adult or child athletes.

Environmental and Health Risks of Rubber Infill: Rubber crumb from car tyres as infill on artificial turf

Hofstra, U., INTRON, January 2007

  • Based on the available literature on exposure to rubber crumb by swallowing, inhalation and skin contact and our experimental investigations on skin contact we conclude, that there is not a significant health risk due to the presence of rubber infill for football players an artificial turf pitch with rubber infill from used car tyres.

Evaluation of Health Effects of Recycled Waste Tires in Playground and Track Products

California Integrated Waste Management Board, 2007, Integrated Waste Management Board: Sacramento, CA

  • Using the highest published levels of chemicals released by recycled tires, the likelihood for noncancer health effects was calculated for a one-time ingestion of ten grams of tire shreds by a typical three-year-old child; only exposure to zinc exceeded its health-based screening value (i.e. promulgated by a regulatory agency such as OEHHA or U.S. EPA). Overall, we consider it unlikely that a one-time ingestion of tire shreds would produce adverse health effects. Seven of the chemicals leaching from tire shreds in published studies were carcinogens, yielding a 1.2 x 10-7 (1.2 in ten million) increased cancer risk for the one-time ingestion described above. This risk is well below the di minimis level of 1 x 10-6 (one in one million), generally considered an acceptable cancer risk due to its small magnitude compared to the overall cancer rate (OEHHA, 2006).

Evaluation of health risks caused by skin contact with rubber granules used in synthetic turf pitches

Dr. Christa Hametner, Vienna, Dr. Hans Theodor Grunder, Berlin, 2007

  • No significant health risks by either direct contact to rubber granules or by contact to rubber dust - with the exception of the risk of allergic reactions in indoor applications.

Leaching of zinc from rubber infill on artificial turf (football pitches)

Laboratory for Ecological Risk Assessment, 2007

  • Human health risks posed by leaching of zinc are negligible as zinc concentrations in the water do not exceed drinking water standards. The risks of zinc to public health are of no concern: the human toxicity of zinc is low and WHO drinking water criteria are not exceeded.

Nitrosamines released from rubber crumb

van Bruggen, M., E.M. van Putten, and P.C.J.M. Janssen, 2007, RIVM: Bilthoven, the Netherlands

  • Small quantities of nitrosamines emitted but not detectable in air; nitrosamine related health effects not likely.

Preliminary Assessment of the Toxicity from Exposure to Crumb Rubber: its use in Playgrounds and Artificial Turf Playing Fields

Thomas Ledoux, Ph.D., New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, June 2007

  • With the possible exception of allergic reactions among individuals sensitized to latex, rubber and related products, there was "no obvious toxicological concern" raised that crumb rubber in its intended outdoor use on playgrounds and playing fields would cause adverse health effects in the normal population.

Re: Ambient Air Sampling for PAH's, Schreiber High School Football Field (101 Campus Dr., Port Washington, NY 11050; Sampling Date: October 17, 2007)

Broderick, J.C., E. Vonderhorst, Editor, J.C. Broderick & Associates, Inc.: Port Washington, NY., 2007

Artificial turf pitches – An assessment of the health risks for football players

Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Radium Hospital, 2006, Oslo. p. 1-34.

  • Recycled rubber granulate contains many chemical substances which are potentially harmful to health. The concentrations of these substances are however extremely low, they are only leached from the rubber granulate in very small quantities and they are only present in low concentrations in the hall air.
  • It has been concluded that exposure to benzene and PAHs in the quantities in which they have been measured in the halls will not cause any increased risk of cancer using the halls.
  • Chemical substances are released in very low quantities; based on worst case assumptions, use of artificial turf halls does not pose elevated risk; more information needed on natural rubber allergens.

An Open Letter concerning the potential cancer risk from certain granulate infills from artificial turf

FIFA, Prof. Dr. Jiri Dvorak, July 2006

  • "The majority of the studies have been on higher surface area particles and have concluded they are currently acceptable. Therefore the larger granules used in artificial turf will have even less potential for emissions. For example a study undertaken by the Danish Ministry of the Environment concluded that the health risk on children’s playgrounds that contained both worn tyres and granulate rubber was insignificant. The available body of research does not substantiate the assumption that cancer resulting from exposure to SBR granulate infills in artificial turf could potentially occur.”

Synthetic Turf from a Chemical Perspective - A status report

The Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate (Kemi), KEMIKALIENIMSPEKTIONEN Sundbyberg. p. 1-31, 2006

Measurement of non-exhaust particulate matter

Luhana, L., et al., 2004, Deliverable 8 of European Commission DG TrEn 5th Framework PARTICULATES Project

  • In comparison to the indoor fields, 7.5 percent of PM10 at an urban Switzerland curb side sampling location was attributed to tire wear particles. The fraction of PM10 attributed to tire wear particles was 2 percent at an urban background site. The levels of PM10 attributable to ground rubber measured at Norwegian fields appear to be similar in magnitude levels attributed in ambient air near roadways or tunnels. Typical ambient tire wear particle concentrations of PM10 or total suspended particulate are 2-5 μg/m3 for roadways and 10-20 μg/m3 for tunnels. Research to date has shown a highly variable distribution between fine (< 2.5 μm) and coarse (>7 μm) in airborne roadside tire wear particles.

Environmental Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Systems

Kallqvist, T., Norwegian Institute for Water Research: Oslo. p. 1-19, 2005

Potential health and environmental effects linked to artificial turf systems – final report

Plesser, Thale S.W., Lund, J. Ole, Norwegian Building Research Institute, September 2004

  • Rubber granules contain lead, cadmium, copper, mercury, zinc, PAHs, phthalates, 4- toctylphenol and isononylphenol.
  • Concentration of lead, cadmium, copper and mercury in the rubber granules is below the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority’s normative values for most sensitive land use and probably does not constitute an unacceptable environmental risk in the short or the long term.
  • Concentrations of zinc and PAH in the recycled rubber granules exceed the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority’s normative values for most sensitive land use. The concentrations of dibutylphthalate (DBP) and diisononylphthalate (DINP) exceed the PNEC values for terrestrial life.
  • Concentration of isononylphenol is above the limits specified for cultivated land in the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines.
  • Leachate from the recycled granulates contain zinc, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), phthalates and phenols. The concentration of zinc indicates that the leachate water is placed in the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority’s Environmental Quality Class V (very strongly polluted water), but is lower than the permissible zinc concentration in Canadian drinking water. The concentration of anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene and nonylphenols exceed the limits for freshwater specified in the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines.
  • The recycled rubber granulates give off a significant number of alkylated benzenes in gaseous form. Trichloromethane (sample 1) and cis-1,2-dichlorethene (sample 5) were also found.

Toxicological Evaluation for the Hazard Assessment of Tire Crumb for Use in Public Playgrounds

Birkholz, D.A., K.L. Belton, and T.L. Guidotti, J. Air & Waste Management Association, July 2003

  • "Genotoxicity testing of tire crumb samples following solvent extraction concluded that no DNA or chromosome-damaging chemicals were present. This suggests that ingestion of small amounts of tire crumb by small children will not result in an unacceptable hazard of contracting cancer.”
  • We conclude that the use of tire crumb in playgrounds results in minimal hazard to children and the receiving environment.
  • Extracts were not genotoxic and exposure potential in children deemed minimal; tire rubber at playgrounds does not pose a health hazard to children.
  • An exposure assessment performed to address the potential health risks to children playing in facilities where tire crumb is used as ground cover concluded that there was little potential for an exposure sufficient to cause ad- verse health effects in children.

Five Year Study of the Water Quality Effects of Tire Shreds Placed Above the Water Table

Humphrey, D.N. and E.K. Lynn, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, March 2001

  • Tire shreds have a negligible impact on groundwater quality at neutral pH.

Emission Characteristics of VOCs from Athletic Tracks

Chang, F.H., et al., J Hazard Mater, 1999. 70(1-2): p. 1-20

  • From 67 to 160 °F, the vapor pressure of benzothiazole increases by a factor of almost 40. However, based on a study of a synthetic rubber athletic track, total VOC emissions are estimated to increase by a factor of only 2 over the same range. No exposure estimates or risk calculations were determined based on results from this study. However, total VOC concentration at breathing height above the track was 0.39 μg/m3.

Environmental Impacts of Recycled Rubber in Light-Fill Applications

Liu, Helen S., et. al., Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, August 1998

  • Recycled rubber derived from scrap tires is a safe recyclable material. Based on the evidence presented, the overwhelming conclusion is that it would be reasonable to recommend use of recycled scrap tires in civil engineering applications.


Heat »

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Offers Tips for Exercising Safely in the Heat

National Athletic Trainers’ Association, July 8, 2010

  • News Release highlighting key recommendations made in NATA’s Official Position Statement below.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses

Helen M. Binkley; Joseph Beckett†; Douglas J. Casa; Douglas M. Kleiner; Paul E. Plummer
Journal of Athletic Training, Volume 37, Number 3, September 2002, pp. 329–34

  • Recommendations for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of exertional heat illnesses.


Staph & MRSA »

Chemicals and Particulates in the Air Above the New Generation of Artificial Turf Playing Fields, and Artificial Turf as a Risk Factor for Infection by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, July 2009

  • There is a negligible human health risk from inhaling the air above synthetic turf, and, though data gaps exist, it is "unlikely that the new generation of artificial turf is itself a source of MRSA….” (Significantly the OEHHA did not review the January 2009 results of the study into the lifespan of staph on grass and synthetic turf sponsored by the STC and the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council - see below.)
  • The OEHHA summary of the results is available here:
  • The full report includes an important Addendum that references reports by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health (May 2009) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (March 2009) - see below.

Survival of Staphylococcus aureus on Synthetic Turf

Andy McNitt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Soil Science, Penn State University, December 2008.
A research project funded by the Synthetic Turf Council and the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council

  • A study to examine the survival of S. aureus on infilled synthetic turf systems and natural turfgrass under different environmental conditions and to evaluate the effectiveness of various control agents applied to the synthetic turf.
  • S. aureus survived for as long on natural turfgrass as it did on synthetic turf systems in both indoor and outdoor settings. S. aureus lived longest indoors, but can be effectively treated with commercially available antimicrobial treatments as well as detergents. Outdoors S. aureus has a very low rate of survival, particularly when exposed to UV light and higher temperatures.

Environmental Management of Staph and MRSA in Community Settings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2008

A Survey of Microbial Populations in Infilled Synthetic Turf Fields

Andy McNitt, Ph.D., Associate of Professor of Soil Science, Penn State University, and Dianne Petrunak, M.S., and Thomas Serensits, M.S., June 2007

  • A survey to determine the microbial population of several crumb rubber infilled synthetic turf systems and natural turfgrass fields.

Official Statement on Community-Acquired MRSA Infections (CA-MRSA)

National Athletic Trainers' Association, March 1, 2005

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