Study Highlights Health Risks of Playing on Synthetic Turf

A Connecticut public health advocacy group is urging localities to spend money on athletic fields of real grass instead of synthetic turf until high quality studies can be completed.

The Environment and Human Health Inc. is reporting that 22 studies cited by the synthetic turf industry are scientifically inconsistent yet reveal that playing on the fields embedded with shredded tires increase exposure to toxic chemicals and metals.

“Although industry admits that many studies find numerous toxic compounds, they claim that the levels are too low to be dangerous to human health,” the report indicates. “Yet the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that even when there is low-level exposure to an individual chemical that might not cause cancer, when many low-level chemicals act together they can indeed cause cancer.”

Maryland-based Synthetic Turf Council Inc. President and CEO Dan Bond, said the EHHI has a history of “cherry-picking half-truths” that mislead the public.

“The fact is EHHI completely ignores multiple recent research reports and statements from Washington State, the European Chemicals Agency, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and FIFA that support the safety of synthetic turf fields,” he said in a news release. “This is in addition to the more than 90 peer-reviewed academic studies, third-party reports and federal and state government analyses that have not found public health concerns from playing on synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill.”

About 12,000 athletic fields in the United States are using synthetic turf, according to published reports.