Study Shows No Cause for Concern with Synthetic Fields

If you’ve been waiting for answers on the safety of synthetic turf, there’s good news and bad news – and the bad news has nothing to do with turf itself. The good news may help by giving contractors another selling point for synthetic fields.

First, the bad news: that study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on synthetic turf may be taking a lot longer than we thought as the EPA is currently threatened by the Trump administration’s plans to cut funding. (An announcement on the outcome of the synthetic turf research initially had been expected later this year.)

But there’s good news – research is going on in other sectors. And it continues the trend of finding no link between cancer and synthetic fields. (Take that, unfounded TV news report.)

A report recently released by the Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has found no reason for parents, coaches or athletes to be concerned about exposure to synthetic turf surfaces and recycled crumb rubber infill.

In fact, the report goes so far as to note it “has found no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules as infill material.”

According to the synthetic turf blog, ActGlobal, a letter from the Synthetic Turf Council summarized the study, referring back to June of last year when the European Commission asked the ECHA to evaluate any risk to the general population, including children, professional players and workers installing or maintaining the synthetic turf fields with recycled crumb rubber infill.

According to the letter, the ECHA found that “the concern for players and workers for lifetime cancer is very low, for metals is negligible, and for phthalates, benzothiazole and methyl isobutyl ketone, there are no concern.” The study’s results are consistent with those found in the recent National Institute for Public Health and the Environment’s Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Netherlands) and Washington State studies.

Though the agency did note hazardous substances could be found in the infill of many synthetic fields, the concentration of these substances is low enough as to not pose risks to players, officials, spectators or anyone else.

A full copy of the ECHA report is available here.

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