As TD Astro Turf, artificial, or synthetic turf becomes more popular for school athletic fields, lawns, and playgrounds, a common concern that often pops up among parents and the media is the safety of the crumb rubber. Crumb rubber is used to build the base for artificial turf and makes up the majority of the constructed surface. The rubber for creating this base usually comes from recycled tires, rubber bushings and rubber braces and supports. Exposure to the chemicals used to create rubber, and the exhaust that tires are exposed to during their lifespan on a car, have been a health concern. Is contact with, or inhalation of these chemicals dangerous?
Despite these concerns, studies by both public health agencies in the United States and Norwegian Institute of Public Health have put exposure to crumb rubber as a low risk to humans. The likelihood of any chemical residue remaining on the product is very small. Ongoing studies by the EPA, CDC and the CPSC will ensure that the use of crumb rubber in artificial turf remains safe. Chemicals and products used in the creation of artificial turf must comply with federal standards. If dangerous chemicals are uncovered during testing, production is halted immediately until a safer product is found.
If people have remaining concerns regarding the safety of crumb rubber in the construction of artificial turf, there are simple precautions they can take to limit potential exposure to chemical residue. Users of artificial turf surfaces can wash their hands, arms or exposed body parts after using the surface. Drinks and food can be kept in closed containers to limit and dust or particles touching food. Parents should supervise young children to insure that the product isn’t put into their child’s mouth or swallowed. Finally, because the industry continues to evolve and improve safety, older or deteriorating surfaces should be evaluated to insure they meet current day safety benchmarks.