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Safe infill granules for artificial turf

The Emmen based company Senbis Polymer Innovation has developed a new, biodegradable infill granules for artificial turf used on football pitches. This is an alternative for the rubber granulate made from spent car tires, which are widely used but may contain toxic substances.

This summer, the granulate will be tested on a new 20 x 30 meter soccer pitch at football club SC Erica. Developing the polymer granulate took several years, as the requirements are hard to meet: the granulate should last long on the pitch, but degrade quickly when it ends up in the environment. Furthermore, the granulate must result in a pitch that plays well.

The final step

According to Technical Manager at Senbis Bas Krins, the new polymer granulate is degraded by bacteria outside the artificial pitch. On the pitch, there is little biological activity so the granulate is safe from degradation. Senbis spent several years creating an optimal formula for the material. After extensive laboratory testing, the field test will be the final step in product development. Krins expects that the quality of the pitch can be assessed in a matter of months. However, it may take seven to ten years to assess the durability of the new granulate.

Reports contained serious flaws

Several years ago, news broke on toxic substances in the standard rubber granules, which might be dangerous for the health of young children playing on artificial turf pitches. Subsequent research by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM and the European Chemicals Agency ECHA suggested the health risks were negligible. However, in juli 2019, four Professors of toxicology and internal medicine wrote in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (Netherlands journal of Medicine) that the reports by both RIVM and ECHA contained serious flaws, and risks to children from carcinogens and hormone-like substances in the rubber were underestimated.

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