PFAS in Artificial Turf Coats Players’ Skin

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933

PFAS in Artificial Turf Coats Players’ Skin

Dermal Uptake Little Examined Exposure Pathway for Toxic PFAS


Washington, DC — Soccer players and coaches on artificial turf pick up toxic PFAS on their skin, according to a study conducted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). All brands of artificial turf tested contain PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in carpet grass fibers and these chemicals leach off these surfaces, even on brand new fields.

The preliminary study done by PEER found that the amount of PFAS on the skin in three out of four players or coaches increased after soccer games played on artificial turf. By contrast, similar increases in PFAS on the skin were not observed after games played on grass fields.

These findings are of concern because human exposures to PFAS are associated with cancer, birth defects, developmental and immune deficiencies, and a host of other impairments. These adverse health impacts are magnified in young children whose bodies are still growing. In addition, PFAS, called “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment, can bioaccumulate in our blood and organs.

“Although this was a preliminary study, it raises red flags and calls for additional studies to determine what risk there is of dermal absorption of PFAS from artificial turf,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and lawyer formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), noting that players on artificial turf may be exposed to PFAS through inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. “It’s also important to note that knowledge of dermal uptake of PFAS is severely lacking, but it may be a significant exposure pathway.”

Currently, there are between 12,000 and 13,000 synthetic turf sports fields in the U.S., with more than a thousand new installations each year. In addition to some professional stadiums, artificial turf has also been installed in hundreds of schools, parks, and playgrounds.

“Besides the direct human exposure, PFAS leaching off these thousands of fields present threats to nearby surface and groundwater, some of which are sources of drinking water,” Bennett added, pointing out that the EPA has concluded that there is no safe level of the most common forms of PFAS in drinking water.  “Our current embryonic state of regulation makes it difficult to trace the life cycle impacts of these highly toxic chemicals from production to disposal.”

The presence of PFAS in artificial turf is also fueling greater efforts to block or remove these surfaces in settings ranging from school grounds to professional sports arenas.


Look at the dermal study results

Read about dermal uptake of PFAS

See presence of PFAS in artificial turf “grass” blades

Examine inadequate current state of PFAS regulation

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