The concentrations of hazardous substances measured in rubber granulate are well below the general European standards for mixtures. According to the European substances regulation, rubber granulate is a ‘mixture’. Other examples of ‘mixtures’ (of substances) are cleaning products, paint and glue. For mixtures, concentration limits apply for substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or are toxic for reproduction. These include certain PAHs, metals, phthalates and organic compounds such as benzene.
For consumer products made from rubber, much stricter standards apply for the PAH content (100 to 1,000 times lower) than for mixtures. For toys, the standards for carcinogenic PAHs are twice as stringent as those for consumer products. In many samples, the concentrations of PAHs in rubber granulate measured in this study are (slightly) above the standard for consumer products and also above the standard for toys.
RIVM recommends adjusting the standard for rubber granulate to one that is closer to the standard applicable to consumer products. In view of the nature of the use of synthetic turf fields, even by young children, there is a need from a health perspective for soundly-based standards for rubber granulate.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently conducting research on the health risks for rubber granulate. RIVM will actively contribute the results of the present study to ECHA.