Synthetic turf is a material that has been praised by many as an innovative solution to scenarios where the use of natural grass is impractical or too expensive. Synthetic grasses are appealing because they are made from tough artificial polymers, and recycled plastics and tires. Despite their current popularity, there have been concerns about the safety of some of the materials used, with a particular focus on infill media such as recycled rubber. Though its use may appear questionable to some, recycled rubber remains one of the cheapest and most dependable materials available. The current growth in demand for artificial surfaces as an alternative to sod in residential applications shows that consumers are willing to use this product. However, the uncertainty displayed by others is a sign that consumers need full assurance of quality and safety. This article will focus on providing clarity concerning the safety of polymers used in the manufacture of Artificial Grass.
Besides granulated rubber, the plastic materials from which the grass pile is created may contain heavy metals especially lead. A few companies produced plastic fibres containing lead chromate as a pigment in the initial years of artificial turf management. Dangerous levels of lead had been found in some synthetic grassfibres made from nylon or combinations of nylon and polyethylene.
Fibres that are made of polyethylene typically contain low or trace amounts of lead. Despite the fact that lead pigment particles are not expected to leach from nylon fibres in good condition, they could deteriorate over time. A process that would result in the formation of dust particles filled with lead. Furthermore, artificial grasses with exotic colours may contain toxic levels of the heavy metal lead a fact that may be attributed to the use of proprietary pigments. A scoping level study to assess the level of toxicity in artificial turf found that the lead content in fibres in six artificial turf fields found that the concentrations of heavy metals were within the limits set by regulatory authorities. Onlyfibres in an area that had recently been repaired were found to contain high levels of lead. A thorough study found that the fibres from two Artificial Grass manufacturers had relatively high concentrations of heavy metals such as iron and aluminium. Fibres from a third manufacturing company revealed an even higher concentration of iron and zinc. The concentrations found were attributed to the use of UV inhibitors and colouring pigments.
The lead content in carpet backing materials and fibres was found to be low, an indication that it was not used in the production of fourth generation artificial turf materials. The backing materials and fibres used in the production of artificial turf are derived from the same polymers as those used in the production of numerous consumer products and are not expected to have severe environmental impact.