School Environmental Health:
Crumb Rubber Fields
Crumb rubber is commonly used in synthetic turf playing fields because it is more durable and requires less maintenance than traditional grass fields. Crumb rubber is made by reducing old and unused tires or other rubber into small pellets. Tires contain a number of materials that can be harmful to health. These materials include metals, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, and particulates. Crumb rubber materials can be harmful when there is long-term exposure through swallowing, breathing, or contact through the skin.
Studies have shown that exposure to chemicals in crumb rubber is likely to be small and not harmful to health. However, recent news reports and comments from the public continue to raise questions about exposure to crumb rubber. A study from Connecticut urged caution until additional information is gathered.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is tracking two important studies on exposure to crumb rubber. One study is being led by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and a draft status report is expected in late 2016. The second is by the California Office of Health Hazard Assessment and will run through 2018. The California study will be very comprehensive and include a review of current knowledge, public input, exposure assessment, and estimated health outcomes. MDH will consider their results in any future recommendations regarding the use of crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields.For more information, please see our information sheet: