THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A European Union report published Tuesday concluded that there is “at most, a very low level of concern from exposure to recycled rubber granules” in artificial sports fields, allaying fears about risks posed by chemicals present in the rubber.
Based on current evidence, the Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency said it “has found no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules.”
While there are hazardous substances in the granules, they are in low concentrations, the report said.
Late last year, Dutch researchers reached a similar conclusion, following an investigation triggered by fears over chemicals found in the rubber crumbs, which are usually made from old tires. The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the risk from playing on such fields is “virtually negligible.”
The EU report said that by 2020 an estimated 21,000 full-size playing fields and about 72,000 mini fields, which are low-maintenance alternatives to natural grass, will be in use throughout the EU.
The report evaluated the risk posed by the granules if they come into contact with the skin, are ingested or if players or workers installing or maintaining such fields inhale dust or substances evaporating from the granules.
It made five recommendations, including that regulations be changed to ensure that only granules with very low concentrations of hazardous substances can be supplied and that owners and operators of synthetic fields measure concentrations of such substances and give clear information about them.
Researchers added that “players using the synthetic fields should take basic hygiene measures after playing on artificial turf containing recycled rubber granules,” including washing their hands and cleaning any cuts and scrapes. Players who get rubber crumb in their mouths should not swallow it, the report said.
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