Helsinki – The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has announced details of a Dutch-led proposal to limit the content of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in rubber granules used in synthetic turf and other play surfaces.
The proposal covers eight PAHs* found in granules and mulches used in synthetic turf pitches, or in loose forms at playgrounds and other sports facilities, said an ECHA release issued 16 Aug release.
Prepared by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in cooperation with ECHA, it states that the current PAH concentration limits set under REACH do not sufficiently protect people.
For its assessment, RIVM looked at the 'health-risk' for professional football players, children playing on the pitches and on playgrounds, as well as workers installing and maintaining the pitches and playgrounds.
The study led to a proposal suggesting a combined concentration limit for the eight PAHs of 17 mg/kg (0.0017 % by weight). The current equivalent limits are 100 mg/kg for two of the PAHs and 1,000 mg/kg for the other six.
According to RIVM, the tighter limits would: “ensure the cancer risk from PAH exposure remains very low for those coming into contact with the granules and mulches; [and] decrease societal concerns about the negative health impacts caused by the PAHs.”
The proposed restrictions, it added, “would lead to no major additional administrative burdens on public authorities in terms of costs for implementing the lower concentration limit; and cause relatively limited and affordable societal costs.”
In its statement, the ECHA said its committees will now check whether the restriction dossier conforms to the requirements of REACH.
“If so, a six-month long consultation will begin in September 2018. ECHA’s scientific committees will assess the proposal and formulate their opinions, and these will be submitted to the [European] Commission (EC),” it explained.
ECHA said it will also assess – as requested by the EC – the health risks of other substances that may be contained in granules and mulches used as infill in synthetic sports pitches.”
In 2017, both ECHA and RIVM assessed the health risks associated with playing sports on synthetic turf pitches where rubber granules are used as infill material.
The Agency concluded that there was, at most, a very low level of concern due to the PAHs present in those materials.
However, ECHA also recommended considering a restriction under REACH to ensure that the rubber granules were only supplied with very low concentrations of PAHs or other hazardous substances.
*The PAHs cited are: Benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[e]pyrene, benzo[a]anthracene, chrysen, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[j]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene and dibenzo[a,h]anthracene.