Hazardous chemicals in outdoor and indoor surfaces: artificial turf and laminate flooring

Maya Negev, Zohar Barnett-Itzhaki, Tamar Berman, Shay Reicher, Naor Cohen, Ruti Ardi, Yaniv Shammai, Tamar Zohar, Miriam L. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Synthetic materials, increasingly used for indoor and outdoor surfaces including homes and playgrounds, may contain toxic chemicals. Infants have a higher potential of exposure to chemicals in these materials, which may pose a risk to their health. Objective: To understand potential risks related to outdoor surface coverings, based on a review of the literature and regulations, and to assess levels of hazardous chemicals in surface coverings in Israel. Methods: We reviewed the literature and regulations on artificial turf. We tested 46 samples of surfaces for trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces; trace metals, phthalates, and di(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHT) in synthetic grass, and phthalates, DEHT and formaldehyde in laminate flooring. Results: Twelve studies reporting high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and varying levels of trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces were identified, as well as five international regulations on lead with maximum acceptable concentrations in the range 40–500 mg/kg. Surface tests showed that 20 out of 30 samples of synthetic playground surfaces exceeded relevant standards for trace metals, of which five had cadmium levels ≥30 mg/kg and four had chromium levels ≥510 mg/kg. In synthetic grass, three out of eight samples exceeded relevant standards, with lead levels ≥1200 mg/kg. In Laminate flooring (n = 8) formaldehyde levels were in the range of 0.7–1.2 mg/m2 formaldehyde, and five samples contained ~5% DEHT. Significance: The literature on chemicals in surfaces is limited, but indicates some exceedance of regulatory limits. Trace metals in synthetic playground surfaces and synthetic grass, not regulated in Israel, exceeded relevant international standards in 72% of samples. Laminate flooring, regulated for formaldehyde, did not exceed the 3.5 mg/m2 standard, but contained DEHT, a replacement for ortho-substituted phthalates. The results of this preliminary study show that flooring surfaces may be a source of children’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Impact statement: Synthetic surfaces are increasingly being used in, for example, children’s playgrounds and sports fields. Exceedances of regulatory limits from other jurisdictions, of heavy metal levels in most outdoor surfaces sampled in Israel indicates the potential for children’s exposure. Domestic regulations should be implemented to reduce the risk to children from exposure to these surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-399
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.


  • Artificial turf
  • Laminate flooring
  • Phthalates
  • Synthetic grass
  • Synthetic playground surfaces
  • Trace metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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