The Partnership for Healthy Playing Surfaces
As scientific researchers develop sharper investigative tools, the long-term impact of exposure to chemical toxins is becoming more evident, and the imperative to act preemptively to protect our most vulnerable populations becomes apparent.
While there are not many peer-reviewed epidemiological studies evaluating the links between exposures from chemicals in artificial turf fields with human health outcomes, there are many studies on the toxicity of the individual chemicals. Among the chemicals in the plastic and infill materials are the carcinogens benzene and carbon black, volatile and semi-volatile chemicals, heavy metals (including cadmium and lead) and chemicals used as reinforcing agents, vulcanization additives, plasticizers and softeners, flame retardants and PFAS chemicals.
Although there is not enough research comparing injuries incurred on synthetic turf versus natural grass fields, there is compelling data indicating that joint injuries (especially ankles and knees ) are more common on synthetic turf surfaces. The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York notes that despite progress by synthetic turf manufacturers in making their fields feel more “natural,” players still suffer from debilitating turf toe (sprain of the main joint of the big toe) which is unique to artificial playing surfaces. Almost 75% of NFL players feel that playing on synthetic turf increases soreness and fatigue.