New ASTM International standard helps test synthetic turf

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A new ASTM International standard helps test the safety of synthetic turf infill – also known as crumb rubber – used in some sports fields. The specification (F3188, Specification for Extractable Hazardous Metals in Synthetic Turf Infill Materials) measures the amount of certain metals that could be extracted from turf infill if accidentally swallowed by players.

The test method within the standard is based on ASTM International’s renowned consumer specification for toy safety (F963) and suggests the same limits on extractable hazardous metals content. The test method simulates infill coming in contact with stomach acid for a period of time, and then measures the presence of soluble elements in parts-per-million.

The time, temperature and pH of the extraction fluid used in the test are aimed at reflecting conditions in the stomach, according to ASTM member Phil Stricklen, director of sports turf research and development at Shaw Industries.

“This standard can be used by manufacturers to test their infill products prior to sale,” says Stricklen. “The standard can also be used by architects and engineers when specifying the components for synthetic turf jobs. Purchasers of fields can also use the standard to test the infill that was installed on their turf.”

The specification was developed by ASTM’s committee on sports equipment, playing fields and facilities (F08). Stricklen notes that, although the new standard is now approved, the task group that developed it will continue to monitor the synthetic turf market to be prepared for eventual revisions to the standard. All interested parties are invited to participate in further development of turf standards.

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