Dutch study: Artificial turf fields are safe for athletes

A new report published by a Dutch public health organization says that artificial turf fields are safe for athletes.

artificial-turfThe study was conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. In recent years, fears over the chemicals in crumb rubber have prompted organizations to investigate whether artificial turf fields pose any health risks to those who play on them. The study concluded that those risks are “virtually negligible.”

From the Associated Press:

“The uncertainly about playing soccer on synthetic grass with rubber crumb is gone,” the Royal Netherlands Football Association said in a statement. “Footballers, parents, clubs and the KNVB can move on. The signal is safe.”

The crumbs, usually made from old car tires, give synthetic turf fields properties similar to real grass — they ensure the ball does not bounce too high and make the synthetic fields better suited for sliding tackles. But there are long-held fears that the chemicals in the shredded tires include carcinogens that could find their way into players’ bodies.

The Dutch investigation tested 100 sports fields and studied available scientific literature. The organization said it also will carefully study American research expected early next year into the fields, which have been in use in the United States for longer than in the Netherlands.

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New standards

The recycled rubber and turf industries announced last month they would adopt new safety standards to ensure all synthetic turf and playground infills meet new American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) toy standards for heavy metals to further ensure safety for youth athletes.

“(This) announcement simply reinforces our industry’s commitment to safety and transparency, which we have also made clear through our support of the current federal multi-agency study,” said Rom Reddy, Managing Partner of Sprinturf. “At the same time, it is important to reaffirm that based on dozens of reports, including peer-reviewed academic studies and federal and state government analyses, recycled rubber infill has no link to any health issues. Hopefully this will go one step further towards alleviating any concerns around this issue.”

Given the possibility for athletes participating in sports on synthetic turf playing fields to come into contact with or ingest particles of infill materials, through being in compliance with ASTM toy standards, members of the Recycled Rubber Council, Safe Fields Alliance, and Synthetic Turf Council are committed to delivering products where the levels of extractable metals — present at low levels within many everyday products — are within ranges deemed to be safe in children’s toys.

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