Determination and analysis of harmful components in synthetic running tracks from Chinese primary and middle schools

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 4;9(1):12743. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49142-9.


In China, incidences involving pupils suffering health problems caused by synthetic running tracks have attracted the public's attention. However, the existence of known and unknown harmful chemicals in the tracks have not yet been explored. Here, the levels of 16 known harmful ingredients were firstly analyzed in 167 school running tracks. In all samples, the recognized toxic solvents and additives, such as the benzene series, soluble mercury, 3,3'-dichloro-4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane (MOCA) and toluene diisocyanate monomer (TDI) were under the limits of detection. In contrast, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, Short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) soluble lead, cadmium and chromium were found in 86%, 88%, 46%, 81%, 43% and 83% of the specimens, respectively. The levels, toxicology and distribution of these known chemicals were evaluated. Then, a static-headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) method in full scan mode was employed to screen for unknown volatile chemicals. Three groups of chemicals reflecting different kinds of pollution sources were discovered: new solvents, such as N, N-Dimethylformamide, new additives, such as 2-ethylhexanoic acid, and by-products, such as carbon disulfide. In summary, the existence of potential risk factors in school plastic tracks was revealed through exhaustive testing. Moreover, most of the hazardous components detected have been recently included in a new national standard to improve the safety performance of synthetic running tracks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemical synthesis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Paraffin
  • Plastics / adverse effects*
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Plastics / chemical synthesis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Running
  • Schools


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Plastics
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Paraffin