Thursday, June 13, 2024

Tussle over artificial football pitches comes to a head(er)

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Turf war

NGOs, scientists and the Commission insist sports pitches need to be cleaned up.

While it’s hard to establish direct links between chemical pollution and individual deaths or illnesses, ECHA warns that “exposure to high levels of harmful chemicals through the soft infill material could pose health risks to people using or working on artificial pitches.”

In an emailed statement, the Commission also pointed out that the “current recycling of used tires into infill material for artificial sport surfaces cannot be considered as fully circular,” as that infill material is “almost never further recycled at end-of-life but is either incinerated or landfilled.”

As for what should happen to leftover tires if the ban comes to pass, the Commission pointed to research programs set up to support the industry in finding “more sustainable solutions.”

Failure to act on the issue would be environmentally costly, said Hélène Duguy of the environmental legal charity ClientEarth. Although NGOs are “not super happy” with the Commission’s proposal for a longer transition period, suggesting it is too lenient, she still sees the ban as a win.

Halsband, from the Akvaplan-niva research institute, said: “We stand by our claim that they should be completely eliminated from sports pitches in general. They are not safe to use.”

This story has been updated.

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