On Tuesday, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment, a government-run public health organization based in the Netherlands, released the findings of a study conducted on potential health threats posed by playing on artificial turf fields made from recycled rubber crumbs.
There has been a history of concern from sports organizations that the rubber crumbs, typically composed of shredded tires, might contain chemicals such as carcinogens, and that extended contact with the fields could result in certain types of cancers.
In October, a TV program broadcast in the Netherlands voicing similar concerns caused many Dutch soccer clubs to discontinue use of their artificial turf fields. The results of the recent Institute study have put their fears to rest.
As reported by The Star, the study states that “No indications were found in the available literature of a link between playing sports on synthetic turf fields with an infill of rubber granulate and the incidence of leukemia and lymph node cancer.”
The study looked at samples from 100 sports fields and found that chemicals linked to these types of cancers were either absent or present in such small amounts as to be “virtually negligible.”
They also found that any chemicals contained in the rubber crumbs were released only in very low quantities, saying, “the substances are more or less ‘enclosed’ in the granulate.”
In a statement released by the Synthetic Turf Council, President and CEO Dan Bond said, "The STC would like to point out that this study confirms the results of more than 90 studies from around the world – including many peer-reviewed academic analyses and government reports – that have assessed the safety of artificial turf fields with recycled rubber infill and have found no evidence of health effects associated with playing on these surfaces."
Dutch researchers say they will be looking for American data, arriving early in the new year, to supplement their study, as the fields have been in use much longer in the United States.