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Will Study Proving Synthetic Fields are Safe Finally End the Debate?

15 Nov, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

While the debate on synthetic turf might have taken on the appearance of a zombie out of the Walking Dead – getting up and shambling along, no matter what kind of ammunition gets thrown at it – a new study shows the fields pose no risk to public health.

Of course, whether it kills the debate for good is another debate entirely.

The recycled crumb rubber infill used in a majority of synthetic fields, notes a study published in the journal, Environmental Research, evaluated ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation pathways according to guidelines set by the EPA, and the study also took into account exposure scenarios for adults, adolescents, and children.

And it found nothing.

According to the study’s conclusion, the research adds “to the growing body of literature that suggests recycled rubber infill in synthetic turf poses negligible risks to human health. This comprehensive assessment provides data that allow stakeholders to make informed decisions about installing and using these fields.”

However, when the question surfaced several years ago, the sports construction industry, realizing the scare factor that was afoot, produced various alternative infill products; an examination of those products, which include silica sand, coconut husks, extruded plastic pellets and more, is available here.

Even with the safety question settled, many factors will go into determining which field destinations will build – and which will draw events. Both types have advantages and disadvantages, and both types can provide satisfactory performance characteristics. The argument of where the grass is greener will likely continue.

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