DPH: Artificial Turf
Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment


Artificial Turf Fields


What is artificial turf?

Synthetic, or artificial, turf has been used since the 1960s, gaining popularity in the 1970s and 1980s with most of its use in professional sports arenas. These older fields were generally comprised of hard mats of nylon grass and many athletes using these fields complained that the surface was harder than grass and caused more injuries.

Newer artificial turf fields were developed to simulate natural grass fields by using infill material to make the fields softer and by adding plastic grass on the surface. Some fields use infill material made from ground-up tires, called "crumb rubber", and this type of infill has caused concern about potential chemical releases to the environment.


Why is artificial turf used?


Artificial turf fields have become a popular alternative to natural grass fields in many Connecticut towns. The advantages of these fields include less maintenance costs, ability to withstand intense use and no need for pesticides.


What is “crumb rubber”?


Tire crumb, a form of “ground or crumb rubber," is produced by processing used tires to a smaller and uniform size through shredding, grinding and sorting. Tire crumb is used in road construction, manufacturing of new molded rubber products (e.g. traffic cones, car bumpers, and garden hoses) and a number of athletic and recreational applications (e.g. sports fields and play surfaces), including use in artificial turf athletic fields as "infill" between turf fibers.


What chemicals are in crumb rubber?


The crumb rubber usually comes from recycled tires that contain man made compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Concerns have been raised about potential chemical exposures coming from the crumb rubber infill commonly used in these fields.


How can people be exposed to the chemicals in the crumb rubber?


To date, studies on the release of chemicals from crumb rubber have reported very low concentration of chemicals. Although exposure to these chemicals is expected to be low, the primary ways that people can potentially be exposed include:

  • Incidentally ingesting small amounts by putting fingers in the mouth or not washing hands
    before eating or after playing on the fields;
  • Breathing in small particles of crumb rubber or vapors released from the fields;
  • Direct skin contact.

Have any studies shown health effects with exposure to crumb rubber chemicals?


According to the EPA, current information from a number of tire crumb studies does not show an elevated health risk from playing on fields with artificial turf or tire crumbs. However, there is still uncertainty and additional investigation is warranted.


Where can I get more information?


Below are links to studies, resources, and further information about artificial turf fields. 


CT Study of Artificial Turf Fields, Risk Assessment, Benzothiazole Risk Assessment, Exposure Study

CT Fact Sheet: Risk Assessment  of Artificial Turf Fields

EPA:  Tire Crumb Questions and Answers

EPA: Tire Crumb and Synthetic Turf Field Literature and Report List (November 2015)

2008 EPA Limited Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds

Norway: Artificial turf pitches – an assessment of the health risks for football players


Environmental Science and Technology: Environmental and Health Impacts of Artificial Turf: A Review

Pavilonis et al. 2013 –(Rutgers study) Bioaccessibility and Risk of Exposure to Metals and SVOCs in Artificial Turf Field Fill Materials and Fibers.


Schiliro et al. 2013 – Artificial Turf Fields: Environmental and Mutagenicity Assessment.


Kim et al. 2012 – Health risk assessment of lead ingestion exposure by particle sizes in crumb rubber on artificial turf considering bioavailability.


Menichini et al. 2011 – Artificial-turf playing fields: contents of metals, PAHs, PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs, inhalation exposure to PAHs and related preliminary risk assessment.


van Rooij and Jongeneelen 2010 Hydroxypyrene in urine of football players after playing on artificial sports field with tire crumb infill.

Information from other states

NYS  https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/fact_sheet.htm

NYC   http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/environmental/turf.shtml

NJ   http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.syntheticturfcouncil.org/resource/resmgr/docs/nj_dept._environmental_prote.pdf

CA: Safety Study of Artificial Turf Containing Crumb Rubber Infill Made from Recycled Tires



WA   www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/EnvironmentalHealth/syntheticTurf


NYS  https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/docs/fact_sheet.pdf



New California study:  The California EPA has been funded by the state legislature to study synthetic turf fields across California for potential exposures to chemicals coming from the fields.   The study is expected to take 3 years and may include an evaluation of the feasibility to conduct  biomonitoring of players using the fields.  DPH will closely monitor the results of this new field study. 


Content Last Modified on 2/3/2016 3:11:28 PM