kunstgras sports fields

Europe wants clean and safe artificial turf on sports fields

Europe wants to see stricter norms imposed on the use of rubber granulate on sports fields with artificial grass. The level of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in rubber granulate should be reduced to below safe limits.

In recent years there has been quite a bit of debate over the use of the rubber granulate. In December 2016 the Dutch National Institute for Health and the Environment (RIVM) concluded following research that playing sports on artificial turf pitches with rubber granulate is harmless and safe. Nevertheless the research institute recommended tightening European norms for rubber granulate. The level of PAHs in the granulate lies below the European norm for mixtures of substances, but above the norm when it comes to consumer products.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) also published a report citing that there is ‘little reason for concern’, although it did not rule out the chance of developing cancer. The ECHA recommends taking off shoes and clothing and showering after coming into contact with the granulate.

European guidelines for toys are much stricter with regard to PAHs. The European Commission has indicated that the norms for rubber granulate should be just as strict as for toys. A statement which D66 MEP Gerben Jan Gerbrandy says he is pleased with, he told Dutch daily newspaper AD, ‘Football players in youth teams come into just as much contact with the granulate as children do when they play with toys.’

Last year the Plastic Soup Foundation recommended putting an end to the use of artificial turf on sports fields because of environmental pollution as much as the possible health effects. Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “There is every reason to stop using artificial turf altogether and to go back to playing on natural grass again. Our message is clear: Stop using artificial turf on sports fields.”