Industry Groups Comment on Misleading and Inaccurate EHHI Report

Synthetic turf fields are safe to play on, as demonstrated by more than 90 scientific studies

EHHI ignores recent research – including from Washington State, European Chemicals Agency and Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – that support synthetic turf’s safety

WASHINGTON--()--The Synthetic Turf Council (STC), the world's largest organization representing the synthetic turf industry, and the Safe Fields Alliance (SFA), a coalition dedicated to educating stakeholders around the safety of synthetic turf fields and recycled rubber, commented on a report released today by Environment & Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) on synthetic turf fields.

Dan Bond, President and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, said, “Today’s report from EHHI is the latest example of EHHI cherry-picking half-truths to support their misleading views of synthetic turf fields. The fact is EHHI completely ignores multiple recent research reports and statements from Washington State, the European Chemicals Agency, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and FIFA that support the safety of synthetic turf fields. This is in addition to the more than 90 peer-reviewed academic studies, third-party reports and federal and state government analyses that have not found public health concerns from playing on synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill. We believe in accuracy and feel that parents should be aware of all the latest research. The bottom line is that there is no greater risk to playing on synthetic turf fields than playing on natural grass.”

In order to set the record straight, the industry wishes to debunk a number of the “myths” being propagated by EHHI in its report.

EHHI Myth #1: EHHI claims its report represents “a careful analysis of studies industry uses to justify safety claims”

The Reality: EHHI has simply repackaged its standard, tired points in a new booklet – picking apart older studies, recycling language they’ve used previously, and completely ignoring more recent research.

EHHI Myth #2: “Lead was found in all fields when looked for”

Reality: Recent research has consistently shown that lead levels in recycled rubber are similar to, or lower than, lead levels in most soils. Furthermore, the industry has voluntarily held itself to standards for heavy metal content in children’s toys.

  • Lead levels in soils can vary considerably, yet EHHI is not suggesting that all natural grass fields be tested for lead content. A recent United States Geological Survey report found that lead in soils ranged from non-detect to 44.5 mg/kg (95 percentile). Most recycled rubber samples range between non-detect to 18 mg/kg. This is well below the US EPA's standard for playground soil of 400 mg/kg.
  • In November of 2016, industry groups, including the STC and SFA, voluntarily adopted ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) toy standards for heavy metals.
    • ASTM International is the leading global standards organization, establishing industry-wide standards across a wide range of materials, including for all toys sold within the United States.
    • Industry groups announced they would comply with F3188-16, the Standard Specification for Extractable Hazardous Metals in Synthetic Turf Infill Materials. This is in addition to these products already meeting standards set by the European Union.

EHHI Myth #3: “Chemicals can sometimes act together to cause cancer, even when low-level exposures to individual chemicals might not be cancer-causing, or carcinogenic.”

Reality: EHHI is overstating the conclusions of the Halifax Project that it cites, and the possibility of chemicals acting together to produce a larger effect is considered in most risk assessments, contrary what EHHI alleges.

  • The Halifax summary paper says that it is "plausible" this mechanism can cause cancer, but that more research is need to see if the "hypothesis" can be advanced further.
  • EHHI is therefore making a misleading claim when it says the research concluded that these mechanism “can indeed cause cancer.”
  • The default assumption used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is that chemicals act together in an additive fashion, which is generally considered to be health protective. Most risk assessments (including this Environmental Research study) use this assumption.

EHHI Myth #4: “The effects of the chemicals and metals found in many of the studies were not considered with respect to children with asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues.”

Reality: Risk assessment methods are intended to be protective of sensitive subpopulations, such as children with asthma.

  • It is false to suggest that sensitive subpopulations have not being considered.
  • In reference to the health effects guidelines used in EPA risk assessments, EPA states there are, "An estimate…of a daily oral exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime."

EHHI Myth #5: “Health risks indicated in the indoor field study”

Reality: EHHI is overstating the conclusions of the Connecticut study that it cites. It is also ignoring a 2006 Norwegian study.

  • The Norwegian study concluded the following:
    • “On the basis of the exposures which have been calculated in connection with the use of indoor halls with artificial turf in which recycled rubber granulate is used, there is no evidence to indicate that the use of such halls causes an elevated health risk.”

About the Synthetic Turf Council

The Synthetic Turf Council (STC) is the world's largest organization representing the synthetic turf industry, representing over 200 companies with operations in 9 countries. Founded in 2003, the STC assists buyers and end users with the selection, use and maintenance of synthetic turf systems in sports field, golf, municipal parks, airports, landscape and residential applications. It is a resource for current, credible, and independent research on the safety and environmental impact of synthetic turf, as well as technical guidance on the selection, installation, maintenance, and environmentally responsible disposal of synthetic turf. Membership includes builders, landscape architects, testing labs, maintenance providers, manufacturers, suppliers, installation contractors, infill material suppliers and other specialty service companies. For more information, visit www.syntheticturfcouncil.org.

About the Safe Fields Alliance

The Safe Fields Alliance (SFA) is a coalition dedicated to educating stakeholders around the safety of synthetic turf fields and recycled rubber, including that based on an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence, there is no link between turf and recycled rubber and health issues. Three of the leading North American manufacturers of synthetic turf fields, working alongside several leading recycled rubber manufacturers, came together to help alleviate concerns related to this issue. For more information, please visit www.safefieldsalliance.com.

Contacts

Media
Sloane & Company
Roger Sauerhaft, 212-486-9500
rsauerhaft@sloanepr.com
or
Stephanie Sabath, 212-486-9500
ssabath@sloanepr.com

Contacts

Media
Sloane & Company
Roger Sauerhaft, 212-486-9500
rsauerhaft@sloanepr.com
or
Stephanie Sabath, 212-486-9500
ssabath@sloanepr.com