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Keywords:

  • Artificial turf;
  • biofluids;
  • metals and SVOCs exposure

To reduce maintenance costs, municipalities and schools are starting to replace natural grass fields with a new generation synthetic turf. Unlike Astro-Turf, which was first introduced in the 1960s, synthetic field turf provides more cushioning to athletes. Part of this cushioning comes from materials like crumb rubber infill, which is manufactured from recycled tires and may contain a variety of chemicals. The goal of this study was to evaluate potential exposures from playing on artificial turf fields and associated risks to trace metals, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by examining typical artificial turf fibers (n = 8), different types of infill (n = 8), and samples from actual fields (n = 7). Three artificial biofluids were prepared, which included: lung, sweat, and digestive fluids. Artificial biofluids were hypothesized to yield a more representative estimation of dose than the levels obtained from total extraction methods. PAHs were routinely below the limit of detection across all three biofluids, precluding completion of a meaningful risk assessment. No SVOCs were identified at quantifiable levels in any extracts based on a match of their mass spectrum to compounds that are regulated in soil. The metals were measurable but at concentrations for which human health risk was estimated to be low. The study demonstrated that for the products and fields we tested, exposure to infill and artificial turf was generally considered de minimus, with the possible exception of lead for some fields and materials.