Health impacts of artificial turf: Toxicity studies, challenges, and future directions

Environ Pollut. 2022 Oct 1:310:119841. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119841. Epub 2022 Aug 7.


Many communities around the country are undergoing contentious battles over the installation of artificial turf. Opponents are concerned about exposure to hazardous chemicals leaching from the crumb rubber cushioning fill made of recycled tires, the plastic carpet, and other synthetic components. Numerous studies have shown that chemicals identified in artificial turf, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are known carcinogens, neurotoxicants, mutagens, and endocrine disruptors. However, few studies have looked directly at health outcomes of exposure to these chemicals in the context of artificial turf. Ecotoxicology studies in invertebrates exposed to crumb rubber have identified risks to organisms whose habitats have been contaminated by artificial turf. Chicken eggs injected with crumb rubber leachate also showed impaired development and endocrine disruption. The only human epidemiology studies conducted related to artificial turf have been highly limited in design, focusing on cancer incidence. In addition, government agencies have begun their own risk assessment studies to aid community decisions. Additional studies in in vitro and in vivo translational models, ecotoxicological systems, and human epidemiology are strongly needed to consider exposure from both field use and runoff, components other than crumb rubber, sensitive windows of development, and additional physiological endpoints. Identification of potential health effects from exposures due to spending time at artificial turf fields and adjacent environments that may be contaminated by runoff will aid in risk assessment and community decision making on the use of artificial turf.

Keywords: Artificial turf; Crumb rubber; Endocrine disruption; Environmental exposure; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Phthalates; Polyaromatic hydrocarbons; Risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Humans
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons*
  • Recycling
  • Rubber*


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Rubber