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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2011;74(17):1150-74. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2011.586942.

Human health risk assessment of synthetic turf fields based upon investigation of five fields in Connecticut.

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Connecticut Dept of Public Health, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, USA. gary.ginsberg@ct.go


Questions have been raised regarding possible exposures when playing sports on synthetic turf fields cushioned with crumb rubber. Rubber is a complex mixture with some components possessing toxic and carcinogenic properties. Exposure is possible via inhalation, given that chemicals emitted from rubber might end up in the breathing zone of players and these players have high ventilation rates. Previous studies provide useful data but are limited with respect to the variety of fields and scenarios evaluated. The State of Connecticut investigated emissions associated with four outdoor and one indoor synthetic turf field under summer conditions. On-field and background locations were sampled using a variety of stationary and personal samplers. More than 20 chemicals of potential concern (COPC) were found to be above background and possibly field-related on both indoor and outdoor fields. These COPC were entered into separate risk assessments (1) for outdoor and indoor fields and (2) for children and adults. Exposure concentrations were prorated for time spent away from the fields and inhalation rates were adjusted for play activity and for children's greater ventilation than adults. Cancer and noncancer risk levels were at or below de minimis levels of concern. The scenario with the highest exposure was children playing on the indoor field. The acute hazard index (HI) for this scenario approached unity, suggesting a potential concern, although there was great uncertainty with this estimate. The main contributor was benzothiazole, a rubber-related semivolatile organic chemical (SVOC) that was 14-fold higher indoors than outdoors. Based upon these findings, outdoor and indoor synthetic turf fields are not associated with elevated adverse health risks. However, it would be prudent for building operators to provide adequate ventilation to prevent a buildup of rubber-related volatile organic chemicals (VOC) and SVOC at indoor fields. The current results are generally consistent with the findings from studies conducted by New York City, New York State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Norway, which tested different kinds of fields and under a variety of weather conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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