For many years, all-weather pitches have been used for a variety of sports including football, rugby, lacrosse and gaelic sports. These playing surfaces often use rubber granules to make them weather-proof and to add shock absorption and traction. But are the rubber granules safe?
Most of the granules are made from scrap rubber tyres that are broken up into small pellets. We know that tyres contain some dangerous chemicals, and that the granules may release potentially volatile substances which could be breathed in, so does using the granules make pitches dangerous to play on?
A very low level of concern
ECHA has looked into the matter and found that the health concerns from playing on artificial surfaces is very low, because the concentrations of the concerning chemicals (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals and plasticisers) measured from granules have generally been very low. However, ECHA said that, for indoor pitches, there is a potential for some of the chemicals emitted from the granules to irritate the skin and eyes of players.
Stay safe when you play
Stay safe when you play While the report found a very low risk, there are always things to do to reduce the risk even further:
- wash your hands after playing and before eating;
- clean any cuts or scrapes;
- take off your sports footwear and kit before going home; and
- of course - do not swallow the granules!
ECHA’s report is being followed up to look further into the potential need to restrict the levels of some of the chemicals even more – especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - in sports pitches.
- Artificial pitches safe, not perfect (ECHA Newsletter)
- ECHA evaluating whether recycled rubber filling on artificial sports grounds poses a health risk (News item, 8 June 2016)
- Recycled rubber infill causes a very low level of concern (Press release, 28 February 2017)