Artificial Turf Fields:
Cities and towns across Connecticut have increasingly opted for replacement of
grass fields with a form of artificial turf that uses recycled rubber tires. The
tires are processed into crumb rubber and used as an infill material to cushion
the playing surface. Stated advantages over natural grass fields are reduced wa-
tering and maintenance, avoiding the need for pesticides, reduced injuries, and
an “all-weather” playing surface. Questions have been raised regarding health,
safety and environmental aspects of the rubber infill material. Rubber contains
industrial chemicals that can be released into the air during playing and which
may run off into the environment in rainwater. This fact sheet focuses upon the potential health effects to
athletes and spectators using these fields, many of whom are school-age children.
Some chemicals in rubber vaporize to form a gas (volatile organic chemicals or VOCs such as toluene and
benzothiazole), while others remain in the solid-phase (e.g., metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or
PAHs). Given the variety and types of chemicals involved, it is not surprising that some have toxic or
carcinogenic activity when tested in laboratory animals. VOC release from crumb rubber infill is ex-
pected to be greatest in sunny, hot weather. Particle release may be affected by the number of athletes us-
ing the field and the intensity of their exercise. Temperature gradients and wind will generally afford
rapid dilution and low concentrations in the breathing zones of athletes.
What Chemicals Can Be Released By The Infill Material?
Inhalation and ingestion exposures are possible. Because their play may create airborne particles and
because of their high ventilation rate, athletes are expected to receive the greatest exposure. Athletes may
also inadvertently ingest dust particles that cling to hands and clothing. Those on the sidelines or
grandstands will receive lower exposures. It is also possible tha