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25. February 2019

Lower concentration limit proposed for PAHs found in granules and mulches

The Netherlands has prepared a proposal to support a possible restriction to address the risks from eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in granules and mulches used in synthetic turf pitches, or in loose forms at playgrounds and other sports facilities. The proposal, prepared by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in cooperation with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), states that the general concentration limits set under REACH for eight carcinogenic PAHs in mixtures are insufficient for protecting those who come into contact with the granules and mulches while playing at sports facilities and playgrounds.

In its assessment, RIVM looks at the human health risk for professional football players (including goalkeepers), children playing on the pitches and on playgrounds, as well as workers installing and maintaining the pitches and playgrounds. The proposal suggests a combined concentration limit for the eight PAHs of 17 mg/kg (0.0017 % by weight). The current concentration limits applicable for supply to the general public are set at 100 mg/kg for two of the PAHs and 1,000 mg/kg for the other six. ECHA’s scientific committees will assess the proposal and formulate their opinions, and these will be submitted to the European Commission.

In 2017, both ECHA and RIVM had assessed the health risks associated with playing sports on synthetic turf pitches where rubber granules are used as infill material. ECHA concluded in 2017 that there was, at most, a very low level of concern due to the PAHs present in those materials. However, ECHA also gave a number of recommendations to be considered for the future – the first of which was to consider a restriction under REACH to ensure that granules for use as infill material in sports fields are only supplied with very low concentrations of PAHs and of any other relevant hazardous substances.


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