The Synthetic Turf Council (STC) has revealed environmental guidelines for testing crumb rubber and other infills used in synthetic turf sports and recreation fields. The STC Suggested Environmental Guidelines for Infill is a resource for parents, players, owners and operators of synthetic turf fields.
Late in 2014 the use of crumb rubber infill in synthetic turf fields was called into question by media reports alleging a possible causal link to cancer in soccer players who played extensively on these fields.
“One of STC’s missions is to serve as a public repository of independent and commissioned studies that have been done on synthetic turf and turf infill,” says Al Garver, president of the STC. “The STC has numerous studies available on its website, and in every case, when scientifically studied and scrutinized, each has shown there is no elevated risk to human health or environmental safety.”
The STC suggests that any toxicological test and analysis of infill for synthetic turf fields be performed according to European Standard EN 71‐3 – Safety of Toys Part 3: Migration. The new infill guidelines specifically address heavy metals in infill and are being added to seven other guidelines developed over the years by hundreds of businesses in the synthetic turf industry. They are a follow-up to the Guidelines for Crumb Rubber Infill published in 2010 and updated in 2014. The STC took nearly a year to finalize the infill guidelines following examination of a number of standards and test protocols available.
“Current owners and operators of sports fields with infill, as well as those interested in new fields, are seeking a testing method to define health and human safety considerations,” says Robert Thomas, STC chairman. “These guidelines are a positive step in addressing concerns, and EN 71-3 is a respected and widely recognized health and human safety protocol based upon quantified toxicology test methods.”
Although the STC does not consider synthetic turf infill as a children’s toy or product, EN 71-3 was adopted in 2013 to address the safety of items that might be ingested by children. The European model specifies limits for different categories of materials and benchmarks the results against a maximum limit for heavy metals in toys.
There are over 12,000 synthetic turf fields in the U.S., according to the STC, and their owners and operators should continue to make informed decisions to install safe, reliable and increasingly popular synthetic turf.