Yale study reveals carcinogens and skin irritants in synthetic turf

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Researchers at Yale University’s Environment and Human Health program have released a report revealing chemicals used in synthetic turf fields and rubber tire mulch used as surfacing material in toddler playgrounds.

According to the report, the study revealed nearly 100 chemicals were found in the 14 samples they analyzed. The study also revealed 11 carcinogens in the turf samples, as well as 20 known skin irritants.

Researchers said the shredded rubber tire playground mulch samples tested were provided by the manufacturer, and were purchased in new bags of rubber mulch for use in gardens and playgrounds. The rubber tire infill for synthetic turf fields was obtained as new infill material from installers of synthetic turf fields. There were five samples of fill from five different installers of fields, and nine different samples of rubber mulch taken from nine different unopened bags of playground mulch.

“I knew there were heavy metals in them but I never expected 96 chemicals,” said Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health, Inc.

Alderman says half of those chemicals have not been tested by the government, so it’s not clear if they’re safe.

“When you’re exposed to more than one low level carcinogen then it becomes very toxic,” she said.

The State of Connecticut has looked into the safety of these fields too. Four state agencies worked together to evaluate the risks of playing on artificial turf fields. The two year investigation found that the fields are not a significant health risk. It also found that they do not release a large amount of toxic vapors or particles.

Alderman isn’t so sure, however. She says the risk is greater at this time of year, since the toxins come out faster in the heat. Kids can breathe in toxic particles and they can be absorbed through the skin. She thinks artificial turf fields shouldn’t be used and that kids are better off playing on the real thing.

“People need to go back to grass,” said Alderman. “Grass is the safest surface for students to play on and that’s what we need to do.”

Rom Reddy, a spokesman for the artificial turf company Sprintfurf, gave News 8 this statement:

“Synthetic turf fields using crumb rubber are safe. More than 75 studies from academic, federal and state government organizations, including the Connecticut Department of Public Health, have all had one thing in common – all have found no connection between these fields and cancer or other health issues. “

He also says the EHHI report is not a peer-reviewed study and that it isn’t supported by any actual data or evidence.

Information compiled from Yale Environment and Human Health report

11 Carcinogens

  • Mercaptobenzothiazole – Toxic to aquatic life
  • Dimethylanthracene – Respiratory irritant and can cause asthma
  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate – May cause damage to fetuses
  • Fluoranthene – Fluoranthene is one of the U.S. EPA’s 16 priority pollutant.
  • Heptadecane
  • Mercaptobenzothiazole
  • Phenol
  • Phenanthrene
  • Phthalimide – Skin, eye, and lung irritant. A Fungiside.
  • Pyrene
  • Tetratriacontane – Eye and skin irritant. Can cause systemic damage to central nervous system.
  • Pyrene – Toxic to liver and Kidneys.

20 Irritants

  • Benzenediamine, N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N’-phenyl – Causes skin and eye irritation, toxic to aquatic life
  • Benzenediamine, N-(1-methylethyl)-N’-phenyl – Causes skin and eye irritation, toxic to aquatic life
  • Benzothiazolone – Causes skin and lung irritatation
  • Dodecen-1-yl(-)succinic anhydride – Causes eyes, skin, and lung irritation
  • Butyl-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde – Causes irritation to eyes, skin, and lungs.
  • Anthracene – Causes skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Breathing it can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs causing coughing and wheezing.
  • Benzenamine, 4-octyl-N-(4-octylphenyl)- Causes eye and skin irritation
  • Benzenesulfonanilide – Considered hazardous, very little testing has been done on it.
  • Benzothiazole, 2-(methylthio) – Causes Skin and eye irritation.
  • Dehydroabietic acid – Toxic to aquatic organisms
  • Docosane – Causes Skin irritation
  • Hexadecanoic acid, butyl ester – Causes eye, skin and lung irritant. Can cause reproductive effects.
  • Methyl stearate – Causes eye, skin and lung irritation.
  • OctadecaneI – Causes kin, eye and respiratory irritation
  • Octadecanoic acid (also known as Stearic acid) – Causes skin, eye and respiratory irritation
  • Oleic Acid – Causes skin and eye irritation
  • Phenol, 2,2′-methylenebis[6-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-ethyl- Causes skin, eye and respiratory irritation
  • Tetradecanoic acid – Toxic to aquatic organisms. Skin and eye irritant.
  • Anthracene, 2-methyl- Acute aquatic toxicity, Not much data available – what there is shows it to be an eye, skin and lung irritant
  • Anthracene, 9-methyl- Acute aquatic toxicity, serious eye irritant

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