Human Health Studies on Synthetic Turf

Published Studies Investigating Synthetic Turf

In 2007 and 2010, under contracts to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, which has since been reorganized as CalRecycle, OEHHA conducted two studies on the potential human health effects associated with use of recycled waste tires in playground and synthetic turf products:

  1. Evaluation of Health Effects of Recycled Waste Tires in Playground and Track Products, January 2007
  2. Safety Study of Artificial Turf Containing Crumb Rubber Infill Made From Recycled Tires: Measurements of Chemicals and Particulates in the Air, Bacteria in the Turf, and Skin Abrasions Caused by Contact with the Surface, October 2010


Image of an athlete on Synthetic Turf, kicking up crumb rubber pellets


Current Efforts Investigating Synthetic Turf

In June, 2015, OEHHA and CalRecycle signed a new three-year contract to expand the study of potential human health effects associated with use of recycled waste tires in playground and synthetic turf products.  The new study is comprised of five separate tasks: 

  • Expert and stakeholder input and consultation
  • Hazard identification
  • Exposure scenario development
  • Sampling and analysis of new and in-field synthetic turf
  • Biomonitoring study protocol development. 

OEHHA will prepare a report to CalRecycle that will summarize the sampling data and findings and evaluate the potential health hazards.

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Image of synthetic turf and crumb rubber products


Public Workshops and Expert Panel Input

OEHHA will begin the project with public workshops in Northern and Southern California to seek input from the public and interested parties.  OEHHA will also convene a panel of scientific experts in exposure and biomedical sciences to advise the department on protocol development and study design.  The panel will first meet in the fall of 2015, and then periodically throughout the study.  Panel meetings will be webcast.

Methodology and Exposure Scenario Development

As part of the hazard identification, OEHHA will review the scientific literature published to date on chemicals that may be released from crumb rubber products.  Existing regulatory toxicity evaluations and criteria will be identified.  OEHHA will also analyze and develop exposure scenarios using well-established scientific approaches and methods. 

Sampling and Exposure Assessment

The study will consider people with high exposures to synthetic turf and will study various exposure patterns and usages, different exposure pathways, and exposure patterns of different age groups.  A large portion of the study will be devoted to analyzing chemicals released from new, uninstalled and in-use crumb rubber and synthetic grass blades from indoor and outdoor fields of various ages throughout California.  In addition to monitoring the air above fields and playgrounds for specific chemicals that can be inhaled, crumb rubber and synthetic grass blades will be treated to simulate oral and dermal exposures.  OEHHA will develop a biomonitoring or personal monitoring protocol to further investigate the exposure of players using synthetic turf. 

Risk Assessment and Public and Expert Review

Making use of the toxicity criteria, monitoring data, and exposure pattern analysis results obtained in the study, OEHHA will conduct an assessment of potential health impacts associated with use of synthetic turf and playground mats. Before the assessment is finalized, OEHHA will hold workshops to elicit public comment and the assessment will also undergo review by a panel of scientific experts.


Additional Resources