Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Article
  • Published:

Hazardous chemicals in outdoor and indoor surfaces: artificial turf and laminate flooring



Synthetic materials, increasingly used for indoor and outdoor surfaces including homes and playgrounds, may contain toxic chemicals. Infants have a higher potential of exposure to chemicals in these materials, which may pose a risk to their health.


To understand potential risks related to outdoor surface coverings, based on a review of the literature and regulations, and to assess levels of hazardous chemicals in surface coverings in Israel.


We reviewed the literature and regulations on artificial turf. We tested 46 samples of surfaces for trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces; trace metals, phthalates, and di(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHT) in synthetic grass, and phthalates, DEHT and formaldehyde in laminate flooring.


Twelve studies reporting high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and varying levels of trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces were identified, as well as five international regulations on lead with maximum acceptable concentrations in the range 40–500 mg/kg. Surface tests showed that 20 out of 30 samples of synthetic playground surfaces exceeded relevant standards for trace metals, of which five had cadmium levels ≥30 mg/kg and four had chromium levels ≥510 mg/kg. In synthetic grass, three out of eight samples exceeded relevant standards, with lead levels ≥1200 mg/kg. In Laminate flooring (n = 8) formaldehyde levels were in the range of 0.7–1.2 mg/m2 formaldehyde, and five samples contained ~5% DEHT.


The literature on chemicals in surfaces is limited, but indicates some exceedance of regulatory limits. Trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces and synthetic grass, not regulated in Israel, exceeded relevant international standards in 72% of samples. Laminate flooring, regulated for formaldehyde, did not exceed the 3.5 mg/m2 standard, but contained DEHT, a replacement for ortho-substituted phthalates. The results of this preliminary study show that flooring surfaces may be a source of children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

Impact statement

Synthetic surfaces are increasingly being used in, for example, children’s playgrounds and sports fields. Exceedances of regulatory limits from other jurisdictions, of heavy metal levels in most outdoor surfaces sampled in Israel indicates the potential for children’s exposure. Domestic regulations should be implemented to reduce the risk to children from exposure to these surfaces.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Study design.
Fig. 2: Concentrations of heavy metals in synthetic grass*.

Similar content being viewed by others

Data availability

The data generated in this study can be found in the supplementary file.


  1. California Code of Regulations, Airborne Toxic Control Measure to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products.


  1. Almansour KS, Arisco NJ, Woo MK, Young AS, Adamkiewicz G, Hart JE. Playground lead levels in rubber, soil, sand, and mulch surfaces in Boston. PLoS ONE. 2019;14:6–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Marsili L, Coppola D, Bianchi N, Maltese S, Bianchi M, Fossi MC. Release of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals from rubber crumb in synthetic turf fields: Preliminary hazard assessment for athletes. J Environ Anal Toxicol. 2014;5.

  3. Toronto Public Health. Health impact assessment of the use of artificial turf in Toronto. Toronto Public Health. Health Impact. 2015.

  4. Cheng H, Hu Y, Reinhard M. Environmental and health impacts of artificial turf: a review. Environ Sci Technol. 2014;48:2114–29.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Perkins AN, Inayat-Hussain SH, Deziel NC, Johnson CH, Ferguson SS, Garcia-Milian R, et al. Evaluation of potential carcinogenicity of organic chemicals in synthetic turf crumb rubber. Environ Res. 2019;169:163–72.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. ECHA. An evaluation of the possible health risks of recycled rubber granules used as infill in synthetic turf sports fields. 2017.

  7. State of California. Brown creates nation’s first enforceable lead standards for artificial turf. State of California - Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General; 2009.

  8. Hadei M, Hopke PK, Rafiee M, Rastkari N, Yarahmadi M, Kermani M, et al. Indoor and outdoor concentrations of BTEX and formaldehyde in Tehran, Iran: effects of building characteristics and health risk assessment. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 2018;25:27423–37.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Ulirsch G, Gleason K, Gerstenberger S, Moffett DB, Pulliam G, Ahmed T, et al. Evaluating and regulating lead in synthetic turf. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118:1345–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. Lanphear BP, Hornung R, Khoury J, Yolton K, Baghurst P, Bellinger DC, et al. Low-level environmental lead exposure and children’s intellectual function: an international pooled analysis. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113:894–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Bornehag CG, Sundell J, Weschler CJ, Sigsgaard T, Lundgren B, Hasselgren M, et al. The association between asthma and allergic symptoms in children and phthalates in house dust: a nested case-control study. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112:1393–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Navaranjan G, Diamond ML, Harris SA, Jantunen L, Bernstein S, Scott JA, et al. Early life exposure to phthalate and the development of childhood asthma among Canadian children. Environ Res. 2021;197:110981

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Rosser F, Han YY, Forno E, Celedón JC. Urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and allergic sensitization in a nationwide study of children and adults in the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018;142:1641–.e6.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Neamtiu IA, Lin S, Chen M, Roba C, Csobod E, Gurzau ES. Assessment of formaldehyde levels in relation to respiratory and allergic symptoms in children from Alba County schools, Romania. Environ Monit Assess. 2019;191:1–11.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Wolkoff P, Nielsen GD. Non-cancer effects of formaldehyde and relevance for setting an indoor air guideline. Environ Int. 2010;36:788–99.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. CPSC. Test method: CPSC-CH-E1002-08.3 - standard operating procedure for determining total lead (Pb) in nonmetal children’s products, revision November 15, 2012. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission; Bethesda, United States; 2012.

  17. ASTM International. ASTM F2617-15, standard test method for identification and quantification of chromium, bromine, cadmium, mercury, and lead in polymeric material using energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry. ASTM International; 2015.

  18. European Commission. Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (‘RoHS’). Regulation (EU) 2011/65. 2011.

  19. British Standards Institution. Wood-based panels - determination of formaldehyde release - part 2: formaldehyde release by the gas analysis method. British Standards Institution; London, United Kingdom; 1995.

  20. CPSC. Test method: CPSC-CH-C1001-09.4 standard operating procedure for determination of phthalates. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission; Bethesda, United States; 2018.

  21. EPA & CDC/ATSDR. Synthetic turf field recycled tire crumb rubber research under the federal research action plan final report: part 1 - tire crumb characterization (volumes 1 and 2). (EPA/600/R-19/051). US Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Washington D.C., United States; 2019.

  22. Groot GD, Oomen A, Mennen M. Evaluation of health risks of playing sports on synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate – Scientific background document. Report number 2017–0017. Bilthoven, The Netherlands: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM); 2017.

  23. European Commission. Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (‘REACH’). Regulation (EU) 2015/628. 2006.

  24. State of California. Safe drinking water and toxic enforcement act of 1986. 1986.

  25. Supreme Court of California. Case No. RG 08407310. 2009.

  26. ASTM International. ASTM F2765-14, standard specification for total lead content in synthetic turf fibers. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM International; 2014.

  27. Standards Institution of Israel. SI 562: Safety of toys. Standards Institution of Israel; Tel-Aviv, Israel; 2019.

  28. European Committee of Standardization. Safety of toys. EN-71-3:2013+A1:2014. European Committee of Standardization; Brussles, Belguim; 2014.

  29. Standards Institution of Israel. SI 37, part 1: plywood: plain plywood. Standards Institution of Israel; 27 - Tel-Aviv, Israel; 1985.

  30. Bocca B, Forte G, Petrucci F, Costantini S, Izzo P. Metals contained and leached from rubber granulates used in synthetic turf areas. Sci Total Environ. 2009;407:2183–90.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Schneider K, de Hoogd M, Madsen MP, Haxaire P, Bierwisch A, Kaiser E. ERASSTRI - European risk assessment study on synthetic turf rubber infill – part 1: analysis of infill samples. Sci Total Environ. 2020;718.

  32. Highsmith R, Thomas KW, Williams RW. A scoping-level field monitoring study of synthetic turf fields and playgrounds, science inventory, US EPA. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency, 2009.

  33. Xie M, Wu Y, Little JC, Marr LC. Phthalates and alternative plasticizers and potential for contact exposure from children’s backpacks and toys. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2016;26:119–24.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Goulden S, Negev M, Reicher S, Berman T. Implications of standards in setting environmental policy. Environ Sci Policy. 2019;98:39–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Negev M, Berman T, Reicher S, Sadeh M, Ardi R, Shammai Y. Concentrations of trace metals, phthalates, bisphenol A and flame-retardants in toys and other children’s products in Israel. Chemosphere. 2018;192:217–24.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Berman T, Barnett-Itzhaki Z, Reicher S, Ardi R, Shammai Y, Aruas L, et al. Lead in spray paint and painted surfaces in playgrounds and public areas in Israel: results of a pilot study. Sci Total Environ. 2018;637–638:455–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Negev M, Berman T, Reicher S, Balan S, Soehl A, Goulden S, et al. Regulation of chemicals in children’s products: How U.S. and EU regulation impacts small markets. Sci Total Environ. 2018;616–617:462–71.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Negev M, Berman T, Goulden S, Reicher S, Barnett-Itzhaki Z, Ardi R, et al. Lead in children’s jewelry: the impact of regulation. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2021.

  39. MacLean LCW, Beauchemin S, Rasmussen PE. Lead speciation in house dust from canadian urban homes using EXAFS, micro-XRF, and micro-XRD. Environ Sci Technol. 2011;45:5491–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing lead poisoning in young children. Atlanta: CDC; 2005.

  41. Celeiro M, Pablo J, Lamas P, Garcia-Jares C, Dagnac T, Ramos L, et al. Investigation of PAH and other hazardous contaminant occurrence in recycled tyre rubber surfaces. Case-study: restaurant playground in an indoor shopping centre. Int J Environ Anal Chem. 2014;94:1264–71.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  42. Zhang J, Han I, Zhang L, Crain W. Hazardous chemicals in synthetic turf materials and their bioaccessibility in digestive fluids. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2008;18:600–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Menichini E, Abate V, Attias L, De Luca S, di Domenico A, Fochi I, et al. Artificial-turf playing fields: contents of metals, PAHs, PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs, inhalation exposure to PAHs and related preliminary risk assessment. Sci Total Environ. 2011;409:4950–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Pavilonis BT, Weisel CP, Buckley B, Lioy PJ. Bioaccessibility and risk of exposure to metals and SVOCs in artificial turf field fill materials and fibers. Risk Anal. 2014;34:44–55.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Celeiro M, Dagnac T, Llompart M. Determination of priority and other hazardous substances in football fields of synthetic turf by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry: a health and environmental concern. Chemosphere. 2018;195:201–11.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Celeiro M, Armada D, Ratola N, Dagnac T, de Boer J, Llompart M. Evaluation of chemicals of environmental concern in crumb rubber and water leachates from several types of synthetic turf football pitches. Chemosphere. 2021;270:128610

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Pronk M, Woutersen M, Herremans J. Synthetic turf pitches with rubber granulate infill: are there health risks for people playing sports on such pitches? J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2020;30:567–84.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. European Commission. Entry 51 of ANNEX XVII to REACH – conditions of restriction. Regulation (EC) NO 1907/2006 (REACH). 2012;62:63–65.

  49. Kolitzus HJ. DIN V 18035-7: sports grounds; part 7: synthetic turf areas. Institut für Sportbodentechnik. Markkleeberg, Germany; 2002.

Download references


We thank Patty Wong, Chief, Special Investigations Section, Pesticide and Environmental Toxicology Branch, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, for the information about regulation of lead in turf in California. We thank Laura Walin, Regulatory Support Team, Support and Enforcement Unit, European Chemicals Agency, for the information about regulation of lead in turf in the European Union. We are grateful to Alex Elman, Shahar Nizri, and Ziv Ramrajker from the SII for their work on conducting the tests and their help in preparing this manuscript. This study was funded by the Environment and Health Fund, Israel, research grant PGA 1901.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



MN and TB conceived the idea of the study, MN wrote manuscript with input from all authors, ZBI led the literature review, performed the statistical analysis and the graphical presentation of the data. NC, RA, and YS conducted the analysis and wrote the methods section, TZ helped with the literature review and preparing the manuscript, MLD provided critical feedback and contributed to shaping the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maya Negev.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Negev, M., Barnett-Itzhaki, Z., Berman, T. et al. Hazardous chemicals in outdoor and indoor surfaces: artificial turf and laminate flooring. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 32, 392–399 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


This article is cited by


Quick links