Feds declare turf, rubber playgrounds ‘generally’ safe

By Ellie Borst | 04/18/2024 04:18 PM EDT

Exposure risks to toxic chemicals in recycled tire crumbs “are likely limited,” a multiagency report concluded.

A view of the Luzhniki stadium with artificial turf.

Soccer athletes playing on artificial turf. A federal study looks at exposure concerns tied to turf and recycled rubber playgrounds. Mikhail Metzel/AP

Toxic heavy metals or associated air pollutants from recycled tire crumbs used for synthetic turf and rubber playgrounds “generally” do not put people at risk of illnesses, according to a long-awaited federal report.

A joint effort by EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the report is the first comprehensive study on the risks of harmful chemical exposure on turf fields or rubber playgrounds and comes more than eight years after the three federal agencies first teamed up.

“Although chemicals are present in the tire crumbs, as expected, and exposures can occur, those exposures are likely limited,” Annette Guiseppi-Elie, national program director for EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability research program, said during a webinar Wednesday.


Researchers studied 25 participants, both adults and children, playing on three synthetic turf fields over different durations and temperatures to see if they would be exposed to dangerous levels of chemicals well-known for human health harms.