Questions about microplastics in sports facilities with artificial turf and plastic flooring.

Debates on the issue of microplastics in artificial turfs and plastic flooring in outdoor sports facilities are becoming more and more frequent. In this context, connections are drawn and numbers quoted which, according to our knowledge and experience, are not always correct. In order to counter this situation, we would like to give answers to the most important questions and join the dots properly.

1) How can the discharge of microplastics into the environment be avoided?

The use of artificial turf surfaces with elastic infill pellets of new rubber or recycled tyres (SBR rubber) causes the abrasion of very small particles. With regular maintenance (1 x per year) these fine particles are taken off the flooring with specialised machines. Vacuum sweepers whirl up the pellets and the dust from abrasion is collected and separated by means of a screen. The coarser particles remaining of the screens are redirected to the surface. The accumulated dirt and waste material is disposed of professionally. Plastic floors are maintained by wet cleaning with swivel cleaners and waste water suction. The dirt and waste material is disposed of professionally. This cleaning procedure has been utilized successfully ever since the invention of these flooring materials.

We would like to point to the quality monitoring acc. to RAL in this context, according to which only specialised companies utilising the required technology and procedures can be certified.

2) Are there any risks for the soil and groundwater?

For the production of artificial turf systems and plastic flooring only such materials are used which comply with the environmental requirements according to DIN 18035-7 and RAL GZ 943 and GZ 944. The products are subject to ongoing quality control. In addition, the layered mineral structure of the flooring systems facilitates a filter effect for wastage. Experience shows that no fine particles are flushed away by surface water, as these are fixed to the fibers due to fiber protrusion and adhesion to the fibers (bonding).

A comprehensive study of the Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaft which was conducted in 2016/05 by the BAM Bundesanstalt für Materialprüfung, has shown that no risk exists for soil and/or groundwater.

3) Are there any risks caused by abrasion and wind drift?

The dust that might remain despite cleaning is fixed by the permanent moisture within the flooring material and fixed by means of adhesion. Various measurements with outdoor sports grounds have verified this.

4) Are there any risks caused by designs that are not according to the standards?

The designs for the construction of artificial turf introduced in Germany according to DIN 18035-6 and 7 require a sufficient elastification (force reduction) by incorporation of elastic layers under the turf. This requires smaller quantities of elastic infill material in the surface. Other designs without an elastic layer require up to three times the quantity of elastic infill material. This can cause disadvantages in the cleaning and thus facilitate the discharge of microplastics. These risks can be avoided by designs according to norms.

Berlin, 23th April 2019

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