Recycled tires in artificial turf pose minimal risks for athletes
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The latest artificial turf playing fields include “crumb rubber infill,” made from scrap tires, used as an artificial dirt between the blades of artificial grass.
Advocates say the crumb rubber adds stability to the surface and cushion for athletes who play on it, but the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment wanted to know if the chemicals in the tire rubber create a danger for field users.
OEHHA determined “these fields did not constitute a serious public health concern” after examining research conducted in New York. The agency reports an athlete playing on such artificial turf surfaces from age 5 to 55 would receive exposure to five chemicals with a lifetime cancer risk above one in a million, or above what is considered the “negligible risk” level. The highest risk for any of the chemicals was nine in a million. But OEHHA said the risk is “low compared to many common human activities.”
The agency also investigated whether the new surfaces cause athletes to be infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a dangerous bacterial infection. Its conclusion was it “seems unlikely that the new generation of artificial turf is itself a source of MRSA, since MRSA has not been detected in any artificial turf field.” But the agency could not determine whether the new artificial turf fields leads to more MRSA infections than natural turf fields.