Human health issues on synthetic turf in the USA

T. J. Serensits, A. S. McNitt, D. M. Petrunak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


As the popularity of infilled synthetic turf continues to increase, concerns over potentially negative impacts on the health of field users have arisen. One of the main health issues on synthetic turf fields is high surface temperature, which can contribute to physiological stress of athletes and can cause serious heat-related illnesses. At The Pennsylvania State University, various methods to reduce surface temperatures have been evaluated including irrigation, covering the surface with a tarpaulin, and amending infill with calcined clay. Many of the regimes tested were initially successful in lowering the surface temperature to that of natural turf grass; however, these low temperatures could not be maintained for periods of time equal to the length of standard sporting events. Another issue that has received attention is the possibility of athletes contracting bacterial skin infections, specifically those caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Infilled synthetic turf has been targeted as a potential source for harbouring S. aureus bacteria. A survey of 20 infilled synthetic turf fields was conducted to determine microbial population and presence of S. aureus bacteria. S. aureus colonies were not found to be present on any field; however, S. aureus colonies were found on other tested surfaces, including blocking pads, used towels, and weight equipment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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