Environmental Protection Agency, February 12, 2016
On December 30, 2016, the agencies released a status report describing the progress of the research to date. The status report includes the final peer-reviewed Literature Review/Gaps Analysis report and describes the progress to date on other research activities that are part of the effort including:
- Characterization of the chemicals found in tire crumb.
- Characterization of the exposure scenarios for those who use turf fields containing tire crumb.
- Study to better understand how children use playgrounds containing tire crumb.
- Outreach to key stakeholders.
The status report does not include research findings. For the characterization of the chemicals research, tire crumb material has been collected from tire recycling plants and synthetic turf fields around the U.S. Tire crumb samples have been gathered from nine tire crumb recycling plants, 19 fields located on US Army installations and 21 community fields including both indoor and outdoor fields. Analysis of the tire crumb samples collected from fields and recycling facilities, and the exposure characterization component of the study will continue in 2017. Parts of the exposure study may be conducted during the hotter months of 2017. The CPSC playground study also will continue in 2017.
While this effort won’t provide all the answers about whether synthetic turf fields are safe, it represents the first time that such a large study is being conducted across the U.S. The study will provide a better understanding of potential exposures that athletes and others may experience and will help answer some of the key questions that have been raised. Depending upon the findings, available resources and other considerations, additional research beyond the first year may be conducted.
Other federal, state, and local government agencies have conducted limited studies on artificial turf fields. For example, from 2009-2011, New York City and the states of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey conducted studies on tire crumb infill and synthetic turf. Also, in 2008 and 2009 the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry evaluated synthetic turf “grass blades” in response to concerns about lead exposure. Their evaluations estimated that any potential releases of toxic chemicals from the grass blades, such as lead, would be below levels of concern. In 2008, EPA conducted a limited Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds. The purpose of the limited study was to test a method for measuring possible emissions from using synthetic turf on playgrounds and ball fields, not to determine the potential health risks of recycled tire crumb in playgrounds or in synthetic turf athletic fields.