About rubber granulate
What is rubber granulate?
Rubber granulate is made from shredded rubber, usually originating from scrap rubber products, such as car tyres. The main reason for using shredded car tyres is a European directive banning car tyres from landfills and making their recycling obligatory. Rubber granulate can also be made from new synthetic rubber.
What can rubber granulate be used for?
Rubber granulate is used to make products such as rubber tiles and rubber carpeting. In addition, rubber granulate is used as fill material in synthetic turf. It gives those fields the same characteristics as conventional grass pitches, making sure that balls do not roll too fast and do not bounce too high. In addition, rubber granules minimise injury to players when skidding or sliding on synthetic turf fields.
What substances can be released from rubber granulate?
Research has shown that rubber granulate made from car tyres releases organic compounds, including various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and plasticizers. Metals can also be released from rubber granulate. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment research has shown that a very small number of nitrosamines can be released from rubber granulate. No nitrosamines have been detected in the air above the infilled sports fields. PAH's, nitrosamines and some plasticizers are carcinogenic.
Can you tell whether rubber granulate has been used by looking at synthetic turf fields?
Yes, black or coloured granules are clearly visible between the artificial grass blades. With the naked eye, it is almost impossible to tell which kind of rubber has been used.
What should I/my child pay attention to during sports on synthetic turf fields?
We recommended that you and/or your child do not play with the rubber granulate.
Is it safe for me/my child to play sports on a synthetic turf field if I/my child has a graze?
Yes. If you and/or your child have a graze, make sure that the wound is clean and remove any dirt and rubber granules.
How do I know whether rubber granulate has been used as filling material for the field on which I and/or my child play sports? Can you tell by looking at it, and should I contact the owner of the relevant field?
With the naked eye, it is impossible to tell which kind of rubber has been used on an artificial sports field. To get more clarity on the matter, RIVM recommends that you contact the owner.
Have I and/or my child run a risk by having played sports on a synthetic turf field for years?
Based on the research we have conducted, we do not currently expect any health risks due to exposure to PAHs from rubber granulate.
Is it still safe for me and/or my child to play sports on a synthetic turfsports field with rubber granulate?
Based on the research we conducted in 2007 en 2016, there is no reason to stop playing sports on this kind of artificial sports field.
Can you get cancer from playing sports on a synthetic turf field?
Based on the research we have conducted, we do not expect an increased risk of cancer from playing sports on synthetic turf fields.
Can I and/or my child be tested for exposure to PAHs?
It is possible to test for the presence of PAHs in a body. This is not a standard test and therefore it cannot be carried out by a GP. The presence of PAHs in the body says nothing about the chances of falling ill. Moreover, the results of such a test do not say anything about the source of the PAHs. They may also originate from burnt meat, smoking or diesel exhaust fumes. We therefore advise against having a test.
How can people playing sports on artificial sports fields come into contact with the substances in rubber granulate?
Sportsmen can come into contact with substances from rubber granulate in three ways: via the skin (in that case, the substances must be absorbed by the body via the skin), by ingesting rubber granulate and by inhaling chemical volatile compounds in the air above the artificial sports field.
Does playing sports on synthetic turf fields filled with rubber granulate pose a health threat?
RIVM concluded that exposure to PAHs and plasticizers is not expected to pose a health threat to people playing sports on artificial sports fields in which rubber granulate is used as filling material. Based on the results of other studies, the same goes for nitrosamines. RIVM does not have any data on other substances that suggest health risks.
Does rubber granulate in artificial sports fields pose environmental risks?
RIVM conducted an exploratory study on the environmental impact of rubber granulate on synthetic turf pitches. The results of this 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. Substances leach from rubber granulate and enter the soil in the field border and in the ditches. Children at play and pets or cattle that occasionally ingest soil containing rubber granulate are not at risk.
Ditch water and groundwater in the natural soil are not contaminated by rubber granulate on the fields. This water is expected to be sufficiently suitable, for example, for spraying vegetable gardens.
Who is responsible for the safe use of any product?
In Europe, the manufacturer and/or importer of mixtures of substances, such as rubber granulate is responsible pursuant to the REACH regulation, for the safe use of the product. The safety can be assessed on the basis of information regarding characteristics, use and exposure to substances in rubber granulate.