Taking part in sports on artificial turf pitches which include crumb rubber made from old tyres is not a health hazard, the Dutch public health institute RIVM said on Tuesday.
Only a very small amount of dangerous chemicals in the crumb – namely heavy metals, black carbon, and oils that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – are released during sport and the risk to health is negligible, the RIVM said.
Nevertheless, the organisation is recommending that the current standards crumb rubber has to meet be toughed up. Currently sports pitches meet industrial standards but not those set for consumers.
The rules governing the use of crumb rubber should be brought more into line with consumer protection levels, the RIVM said.
The RIVM was asked to look into the risks posed by crumb rubber by health minister Edith Schippers following claims by a television current affairs programme which said artificial grass could pose a health risk.
Professor Martin van den Berg, a toxicology specialist at Utrecht university, told the television programme Zembla that the grass should not be used until potential risks are clear. ‘As a toxicologist, I say: I wouldn’t play on these fields because we cannot make a proper assessment of the risks,’ he said.
Many sports clubs have been replacing their crumb rubber pitches because of the health concerns.