New air quality survey concludes crumb rubber synthetic turf fields are safe

May 4, 2009  - By

By: Rick Doyle, Synthetic Turf Council

Last month, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) released the results of an air quality survey conducted on its behalf by TRC Cos., an independent environmental engineering and consulting firm, to measure the presence of “contaminants of potential concern” (COPC) in the breathing zone of young children above crumb rubber synthetic turf fields.

This is an important study for several reasons:

  • It provides specific scientific data on the presence of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzothiazole, metals and particulate matter that laboratory studies have identified as chemical constituents of tire crumb, so-called COPCs.
  • The measurements were taken under simulated playing conditions on very hot summer days to address a concern often raised in the media that these COPCs are off-gassed, particularly in the heat, to pose a health hazard to children and others playing on the fields.
  • It includes background air quality samplings over a grass field, and in locations apart from the fields.
  • It fills key knowledge gaps that were identified in the 2008 DOHMH review of available scientific literature and studies on health hazards relating to crumb rubber synthetic turf fields. [Titled “A Review of the Potential Health and Safety Risks from Synthetic Turf Fields Containing Crumb Rubber Infill,” the report concluded that these fields do not pose an increased risk for human health effects as a result of ingestion, dermal or inhalation exposure to crumb rubber.]

Of 69 VOCs, 17 PAHs, 10 metals and a range of particulate matter tested, the COPCs that were detected in the ambient air samples above the crumb rubber synthetic turf fields were found in similar concentrations in the air samples above the grass field and the background locations. None of the PAHs tested, including benzothiazole, which is identified in the report as a chemical “marker” for crumb rubber, were idenified in any of the air samples.

The report concluded, “An analysis of the air in the breathing zones of children above synthetic turf fields did not show appreciable levels from COPCs contained in the crumb rubber.”

The full report, as well as the 2008 DOHMH scientific literature review and numerous other scientific studies, can be viewed on the Synthetic Turf Council’s website.

AT Staff

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