Research into rubber granulate on synthetic turf fields

RIVM used a variety of methods to obtain more knowledge about rubber granulate on synthetic turf fields and the possible health effects. RIVM carried out a systematic review to assess all the relevant scientific publications. These findings were combined with field research in order to clarify which substances occur in rubber granulate. Another aspect of the research was the laboratory analysis of a selection of the samples taken to determine the extent to which substances can be released in certain circumstances, for example through contact with the skin or ingestion of the granulate.

Gather knowledge from around the world

In recent years, various research has been carried out into rubber granulate throughout the world. By carrying out a systematic review, RIVM intended to ascertain what was known about rubber granulate on synthetic turf fields and the possible health effects of exposure .

Car tyres, and therefore also rubber granulate, contain a whole range of different substances. The research focused on substances which might have the most worrying health effects if they are released from rubber granulate. After all, only if a substance is released could it have an effect on health and this effect would depend on the amount to which someone is exposed.

Aspects of systematic review

  • Composition of rubber granulate
    What is known about the composition of rubber granulate? What information is available in the literature about the release of substances from rubber granulate?
  • Standards
    Which standards apply to substances contained in rubber granulate?
  • Health effects
    What are the most important health effects of the substances released from rubber granulate?
  • Exposure
    What are the possible exposure scenarios for sportsmen as regards substances released from rubber granulate? This means duration, frequency and degree of skin contact, inhalation and quantity of ingested granules.
  • Leukaemia and lymphoma
    What is known about playing sports on synthetic turf fields with rubber granulate and preventing leukaemia and lymphoma?

Field research together with football clubs

Samples of the granulate were taken at 100 randomly chosen synthetic turf fields. These samples were analysed in the laboratory to see which substances they contained and how much. This gave a representative picture of the rubber granulate present in the Netherlands.

In order to find out whether the substances in rubber granulate might have an effect on people's health, it was important to know whether substances could also be released in circumstances in which people are exposed to rubber granulate. This meant, for example, contact with the skin or the ingestion of the granulate. It was also important to know whether the body could absorb these released substances. The laboratory results from this research, as well as the new information from the literature, enabled us to make a better estimate of the possible health risks.


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