Currently, there are >11,000 synthetic turf athletic fields in the United States and >13,000 in Europe. Concerns have been raised about exposure to carcinogenic chemicals resulting from contact with synthetic turf fields, particularly the infill material ("crumb rubber"), which is commonly fabricated from recycled tires. However, exposure data are scant, and the limited existing exposure studies have focused on a small subset of crumb rubber components. Our objective was to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of a broad range of chemical components of crumb rubber infill using computational toxicology and regulatory agency classifications from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to inform future exposure studies and risk analyses. Through a literature review, we identified 306 chemical constituents of crumb rubber infill from 20 publications. Utilizing ADMET Predictor™, a computational program to predict carcinogenicity and genotoxicity, 197 of the identified 306 chemicals met our a priori carcinogenicity criteria. Of these, 52 chemicals were also classified as known, presumed or suspected carcinogens by the US EPA and ECHA. Of the remaining 109 chemicals which were not predicted to be carcinogenic by our computational toxicology analysis, only 6 chemicals were classified as presumed or suspected human carcinogens by US EPA or ECHA. Importantly, the majority of crumb rubber constituents were not listed in the US EPA (n = 207) and ECHA (n = 262) databases, likely due to an absence of evaluation or insufficient information for a reliable carcinogenicity classification. By employing a cancer hazard scoring system to the chemicals which were predicted and classified by the computational analysis and government databases, several high priority carcinogens were identified, including benzene, benzidine, benzo(a)pyrene, trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride. Our findings demonstrate that computational toxicology assessment in conjunction with government classifications can be used to prioritize hazardous chemicals for future exposure monitoring studies for users of synthetic turf fields. This approach could be extended to other compounds or toxicity endpoints.
Keywords: Carcinogenicity; Computational toxicology; Crumb rubber; Regulatory classification; Synthetic turf.
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