Artificial Turf: Exposures to Ground Up Rubber Tires on Athletic Fields and Playgrounds

Archived studies and news reports that expand the scope of Environment & Human Health, Inc.'s (EHHI) research reports about health and the environment.

EHHI releases new Synthetic Turf report
Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) has released its new report, Synthetic Turf: Industry's Claims Versus the Science. Industry continues to claim that there are studies that prove the synthetic turf fields and rubber mulch playgrounds are safe. If no one actually reads and analyzes these studies, then there is no one to dispute these claims. EHHI has spent the past year carefully reading these studies and summarizing their findings in an easily accessible report. Click here to download EHHI's new report.

EHHI analyzes the Connecticut study of 2010
Because the synthetic turf industry has claimed that the CT Department of Health study shows that synthetic turf fields were safe, Environment and Human Health, Inc., felt it important to closely analyze the actual study to see what it really said. The study only looked at the health risks to those 12 years and up — yet many younger children also play on these fields. Click here to read Human Health Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Fields Based Upon Results from Five Fields in Connecticut. On careful reading you will see the flaws in the study and all their stated limitations. It is hard to believe that the researchers could declare that their data showed the fields were safe. Click here to read EHHI's detailed analysis of the study.

As of December 2016, 186 soccer players have gotten cancer, 116 of them goalkeepers
These are the latest reported cancers among soccer players who have known to report their cancers to University of Washington associate coach Amy Griffin. Click to read the list of cancers by type.

Synthetic turf fiasco at Buffalo/Pittsburgh football game dubbed "PELLET-GATE"
The second half of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Buffalo Bills game was held up due to a buildup of black rubber pellets that had been scraped from the turf surface. Batavia Turf Instant Lawns owner Craig Yunker says artificial fields produce hazardous waste, and the incident raised concerns about player safety. Click here to watch the video.

The 100-yard deception: FieldTurf executives have been misleading towns and schools about deteriorating fields
When the hottest-selling artificial turf fields began to fall apart, executives of FieldTurf put profits over the good of their biggest customer — the unwitting taxpayer. An in-depth investigation in a three-part series. Click here to read the story.

New Jersey lawmakers call for fraud investigation and potential lawsuit against FieldTurf
The industry-leading artificial turf company, FieldTurf, aggressively marketed defective artificial sports fields and misled schools and municipalities. Now legislators are calling for investigations and a class-action lawsuit to hold the company accountable for widespread deception. Click here to read the story.

Amsterdam says "no" to rubber granules in artificial turf
Amsterdam will not accept rubber granules in new artificial turf fields. The people have lost confidence in the granules, officials say. Tire industry association VACO did its own, separate analysis and found that 58 out of 60 artificial turf fields contain a higher concentration of carcinogenic substances than consumer standards allow. Click here to read the story.

CT closes vocational high schools and cuts school breakfasts—while spending $3 million on a synthetic turf field
The state approved $3 million for a synthetic turf field (even as the federal government evaluates the fields' safety). The CT State Board of Education also endorsed a proposal to close two vocational technical high schools, end all athletic programs and cut reimbursements to schools that provide school breakfast and healthy foods. Click here to read the story.

Are synthetic playing surfaces hazardous to athletes' health?
As the debate rages over crumb rubber's links to cancer, the Los Angeles Times tells the story of one young athelete's Hodgkin's lymphoma. Click here to read the story.


Analysis of metals conducted at Yale University Analysis on crumb rubber infill and playground rubber mulch
The metal analysis conducted at Yale University shows that metals are present in, and presumably released from, the crumb rubber (click for pdf).
The metals that are released from the various samples are very different, reflecting the lack of standardization in the shredded waste tires. This fact is due to all the different tires that are collected from all over the country and then put into shredding machines. There is no standardization — and in fact the tires come from all different kinds of vehicles: trucks, both large and small, cars and as many different kinds of tires as you can imagine.


The wide variability of shredded waste tire mulch and crumb rubber infill throws all of those "safety" studies in doubt because no two samples are necessarily the same. It further casts doubt on studies of older fields where the crumb rubber has broken down to dust over time and use. The cadmium levels in this analysis go from (mg/kg) 0.16 to 1.39; the lead levels go from (mg/kg) 2.6 to 33.1 and the zinc levels go from (g/kg) 8.8 to 22.2. These are large variables due to the different samples of what is supposedly the same products — showing no standardization at all. Click here for analysis methods.


New synthetic turf fields proposed: Did the state Department of Health claim the fields were safe?
The Connecticut Department of Health took the position that synthetic turf fields were safe years before they, or any one else, had tested them. Click here to read the OpEd.


Who are the "rented white coats" who defend toxic chemicals?
Meet the "scientists for sale" in a world where corporate interests dictate findings and scientists for hire willingly oblige. Click here to read more.


City of Hartford bans crumb rubber infill for synthetic turf fields
Hartford bans artificial turf surfaces and crumb rubber infill, effective immediately. Click here to read the zoning regulations.

Senators Ask White House For Comprehensive Crumb Rubber Turf Study
In a letter to the president, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked President Barack Obama to initiate a comprehensive federal-led study into the potential health risks posed by the surfaces. They urged further scrutiny, given the possible correlation between crumb rubber and cancer suggested by recent reports. Click here to read the press release.

California Senate cites EHHI's study in artificial turf debate
A hearing in the California Senate provides a good overview of crumb rubber issues, citing EHHI's study at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences. Click here to watch the video.

Two worn soccer fields with artificial surfaces closed in Las Vegas, deemed unsafe
TThe fields, which opened in 2007, have literally been torn to pieces. Large chunks of turf are missing in several areas and the seams between turf sections are showing. Now, studies across the country, including one undertaken by Gaboury Benoit, an environmental chemist and professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, suggest that "crumb rubber" contains carcinogens. Click here to read the article.

Synthetic turf industry lobbies up in safety fight
The synthetic turf industry is retaining lobbyists to defend against allegations that rubber infill could be toxic. A NBC News investigation featured a number of young athletes who contracted cancer they say is linked to crumb rubber in artificial turf fields. Click here to read more.

Massachusetts legislators submit letter to United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
Massachusetts delegates asked the CPSC to regulate interior and exterior use of crumb rubber as a children's product to ensure the safety of children and adults who use crumb rubber artificial turf fields. Click here to read the letter to CSPC.

Leachability: chemicals of concern found in the air, water, and soil adjacent to crumb rubber and other recycled tire products
Chemicals and heavy metals leach out of the small crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields at a greater rate even than the rubber mulch. "The smaller the particle size, the greater the potential for leaching," according to the WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION FACT SHEET * FS163E. Click here to download the publication.

Empire State Consumer Project (ESCP) 2015 Children's Products Safety Report
The Empire State Consumer Project found arsenic, cadmium, and zinc at "higher than current acceptable limits." ESCP says it's the only consumer agency conducting chemical safety testing on artificial mulch made from ground up tires. Click here to read page 34-35 of the publication.

Physicians and health professionals warn of potential health problems
"The safest material for students and athletes to play on is grass. We believe that what has happened with synthetic turf fields has been a massive failure of government to protect the public by allowing shredded-up waste tires to get into the market place and put where children, students and athletes play." Click here to read the letter in the New Haven Register.
Click here to download.

Artificial turf surfaces linked to growing head trauma incidents
The Concussion Legacy Foundation warns that artificial turf may be a major contributing factor to increased incidents of brain trauma. A new study found more than 15 percent of concussions come from impact with the field. Artificial turf may make head trauma more dangerous, particularly at the high school and youth levels. Click here to read more.

Chemical analysis conducted by Yale University
Scientists at Yale University analyzed crumb rubber tire infill used in synthetic turf and rubber tire mulch used as surfacing material in toddler playgrounds. Click here for the analysis and methods.

Synthetic turf industry lobbies up in safety fight
The synthetic turf industry is retaining lobbyists to defend against allegations that rubber infill could be toxic. A NBC News investigation featured a number of young athletes who contracted cancer they say is linked to crumb rubber in artificial turf fields. Click here to read more.

News items are not independently verified by EHHI and inclusion on this site does not constitute an endorsement.

EHHI's Artificial Turf Report

Concern is growing about children’s exposures to ground-up rubber tires used as the infill material in synthetic turf fields. Such fields have been installed, or are being proposed, in towns all over Connecticut and many other states.

EHHI's study, conducted at Yale University, found 96 chemicals in the synthetic turf and rubber tire mulch used as surfacing in toddler playgrounds. Of the 96 chemicals detected, a little under a half have had never had toxicity assessments for their health effects. Of the rest, 20% are probable carcinogens.

For further information about artificial turf, download EHHI's report or click here for more about artificial turf fields and playgrounds.