Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

Children kicking soccer balls on astroturf field

Artificial Turf and Your Health

May 20, 2024

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Experts: Homero Harari, Sc.D.

In this episode, NIEHS-funded researcher Homero Harari, Sc.D., talks about the potential health and safety concerns of playing on artificial turf. He also discusses how communities can make informed decisions about whether to install synthetic surfaces at schools, parks, and playgrounds.

Artificial Turf and Your Health

When investing in athletic fields and playgrounds, schools and communities must often decide between natural grass or artificial turf. Compared to grass, artificial turf may be more durable and require less maintenance. However, some parents and communities are concerned about how playing on these artificial surfaces may affect health.

The synthetic materials that make up artificial turf can expose children, athletes, and others to PFAS, heavy metals, and other harmful chemicals. Additionally, artificial turf gets significantly hotter than grass, increasing the risk of heat stress and burns among those who play on the fields.

In this episode, we’ll talk with Homero Harari, Sc.D., who studies the potential health and safety concerns of playing on artificial turf and helps communities make informed decisions about whether to install synthetic surfaces at schools, parks, and playgrounds.

Interviewee:

Homero Harari, Sc.D.

Homero Harari, Sc.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. As an exposure scientist, he develops methods to assess how people are exposed to harmful chemicals in the environment and workplace. Funded by NIEHS, Harari is leading a community-engaged project to characterize the chemicals present in turf fields and playgrounds, and assess children’s exposure to those substances, as well as to heat from the synthetic surfaces.

Resources:

References

Massey R, Pollard L, Jacobs M, Onasch J, Harari H. 2020. Artificial Turf Infill: A Comparative Assessment of Chemical Contents. New Solut. 30(1):10-26. [Abstract]