The Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV) has confirmed that the use of risk management measures will guarantee that the release of polymeric granules will remain below the maximum dispersion limit of 7 gram/m2 which the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) views as being acceptable.
IBV has drawn this conclusion after successfully concluding a monitoring project of a synthetic turf football field in the municipality of Ribeira. The study was conducted together with Signus Ecovalor, a Spanish industry association that represents major tyre manufacturers like Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli, Continental and Goodyear in Spain.
“Spain generates about 300,000 tons of tyres per annum that are no longer being used. Of them, about 75,000 tons are destined to produce infill for long-pile synthetic turf football fields,” Signus Ecovalor CEO, Gabriel Leal, explains. “The European Commission is currently studying a regulation that restricts the use of intentionally added microplastics to the environment. Among the possible restrictions is the application of recycled rubber, from the tyre in this application, given that the size of the particle (between 0.8 and 2.5 mm) used in synthetic turf fields has this consideration.”
He goes on to point out that “to prevent the release of these particles, a series of measures have been established through the European technical standard CEN/TR 17519. Signus, in collaboration with the Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV), launched almost 2 years ago a project to establish the effectiveness of these measures in a football field in the municipality of Ribeira. The field is being exposed to a climate of intense rain. The containment measures are quite simple and consist of the installation of filters in the rainwater and irrigation water collection system of the field, a barrier along the entire perimeter of the field, as well as a boot cleaning system at the entrance/exit of the playing field, and, finally, the placement of containers in the locker room to make players aware of the importance of collecting particles that may be deposited in their boots and clothes.”
Below the maximum
The main conclusion that emerges from the results obtained is that “with the implementation of the containment measures included in the European standard CEN/TR 17519, it is guaranteed that the release of rubber granules would be below the maximum dispersion limit of microplastics indicated in the report of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), setting a limit of 7 g/m2/field equivalent to 35 – 50 kg of granules per year per field.” The results of the study indicate that in playing conditions without rain, there would be a loss for the boots and clothing of the players of approximately 6 kg of granules per year per field. “That is 86% below the established limit. In the most unfavourable scenario, where it would rain 365 days a year, the dispersion would be 23 kg of granules per year per field, 43% below the limit established by the European body,” says Leal.
Furthermore, Leal adds that “It should be noted that the implementation of containment measures would also prevent the release of those microplastics that are generated unintentionally due to the use of the field, such as particles from synthetic turf fibre, which is estimated to release approximately 9 kg per year per field. These results show that the decision to ban the use of one of the two sources of microplastics identified in this application would be ineffective and insufficient. However, containment measures on all synthetic turf fields would ensure high efficacy against the release of all microplastics used in this use, both intentionally and unintentionally.”
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