RIVM has submitted a proposal to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on behalf of the Dutch government to reduce the limit value for eight carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in rubber granulate on synthetic turf pitches and playgrounds. By reducing the limit value to 17 milligrams per kilogram (0.0017%) for the sum of eight PAHs, it will be prohibited to use rubber granulate with unsafe high concentrations of PAHs. The current limit value for PAHs in rubber granulate provided to the general public is 100 mg/kg for two of the PAHs and 1000 mg/kg for the other six. According to the available data, approximately 95% of the rubber granulate currently used on synthetic turf pitches and playgrounds meet the newly proposed European limit value. The proposal is part of the so-called REACH restriction dossier. RIVM was commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to draw up the proposal.
RIVM conducted an exploratory study on the environmental impact of rubber granulate on synthetic turf pitches. The results of the exploratory study indicate that the use of rubber granulate on synthetic turf pitches can be harmful to the environment in the close vicinity of these pitches.
In response to a request from the Scientific Advisory Board, RIVM has conducted an international review of the rubber granulate study. The scientific sounding board group that was consulted on the study on the “Evaluation of health risks of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate” consisted exclusively of national experts from the Netherlands. The Scientific Advisory Board therefore asked RIVM to arrange for an international review of the research report. To that end, RIVM contacted reviewers from three prominent institutes who are experienced in risk assessment within regulatory frameworks. Reviewers from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) (on personal title), the German Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) assessed the report and provided their findings. The main conclusions and the reaction of RIVM are now available on our website in Dutch and English. The summaries can also be found here.
RIVM and ECHA are requesting interested parties to submit any information they have related to infill material in synthetic turf pitches. The institutes will use the information to substantiate a proposal for stricter standards for PAHs in rubber granulate in sports fields. Research conducted by RIVM in the last year has already provided more insight into the composition of rubber granulate in the Netherlands. ECHA and RIVM are specifically requesting for information on the composition of rubber granulate in Europe and on the composition and technical aspects of alternatives and the costs related to replacement of rubber granulate. More information is available on the ECHA website.
The publication of the RIVM report: 'Evaluation of health risks of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate : Scientific background document' is a compilation of the initial 2016 report and all the scientific background documents.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published a study on the possible health risks of substances in recycled rubber used on artificial sports pitches. ECHA has concluded that the concern for players on these pitches, including children, and for workers who install and maintain them is very low. ECHA recommends to modify the current limit for hazardous substances in rubber granulate to ensure that the concentrations of hazardous substances in rubber granulate remain low in the future.
The risk assessment method of ECHA is similar to that of RIVM. It uses the same information about the hazardous properties of the substances in rubber granulate. The exposure scenarios developed by ECHA are very similar to those of RIVM. Furthermore, the ECHA study provides additional information on:
The ECHA study does not address the potential risks to the environment.
The news message and report is available on the ECHA website
RIVM has published an English version of the Dutch December 2016 report on rubber granulate. This report: 'Evaluation of health risks of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate' is now available for download. We will also publish a scientific report on rubber granulate in March.
The Washington State Department of Health has published the report ‘Investigation of Reported Cancer among Soccer Players in Washington State’. RIVM refers to this study in the Dutch report ‘Beoordeling gezondheidsrisico's door sporten op kunstgrasvelden met rubbergranulaat’ published on December 20th, 2016, for example on page 31. The results of the Washington State DOH report do not lead to adjustment of the conclusion of the RIVM report. The conclusion remains that it is safe for people to play sports on synthetic turf fields with an infill of rubber granulate. The report by the Washington State Department of Health can be found on their website.
RIVM will publish the Dutch 2016 rubber granulate report in English in February. We will also publish a scientific report on rubber granulate in English that month.