Chemicals in flooring materials: synthetic turf, synthetic grass and parquets

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.