ISBA Independant School Bursar's conference

Sports Labs attended the annual Bursar's conference in Manchester, England this week. This conference brings together all the Bursar's around the UK and Ireland (some overseas too) to discuss current issues facing this sector of education. 

Sports Labs had a busy time at this conference taking to many Schools about refurbishing old pitches, building new ones. There was a lot of interest in athletics this year as well as tennis and netball.

We will be following up on all these enquiries in the coming weeks

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Lewis, Keith and David ready to assist the Bursar's with all their enquiries! 

'One Turf Concept' guidance now issued

‘One Turf Concept’ agreed by rugby, soccer and hockey

World Rugby, FIFA and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have developed a ground-breaking protocol for multi-surface playing fields that could revolutionise how shared sports grounds are used and enjoyed around the world.

After many years working together on this project, including detailed discussions with industry leaders, the three federations have managed to balance player welfare and performance with playability for an initiative named ‘One Turf Concept’. While it is specific to multi-sport venues, the concept can also be applied to any artificial turf sports field not designed to comply with a specific sport-based requirement.

The federations will continue to work with manufacturers and test laboratories in refining standards so as to increase the performance and longevity of the playing fields, which are so important to rugby, soccer and hockey, especially at the community level where available space and finances may be limited.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This is a fantastic example of cross-sport co-operation that will benefit grass-roots sport all over the world. While the elite level of each code has a distinct need that often requires its own specific playing surface, 99 per cent of players fall outside that professional, elite group and have different requirements. 

“Along with FIFA and FIH, we recognise that the promotion of multi-sport facilities is a cornerstone of the development of our sports in both established and new markets. It is also recognised that the key performance measure of these fields should be focussed on player welfare and, as always, that is our number-one priority. Those seeking to provide safe and high-quality facilities are often in an environment where space and money are limited.”

FIH Director of Sport and Development David Luckes said: “While short-pile products are preferred for hockey, the FIH recognises that this partnership can aid development by providing opportunities to play hockey on surfaces where there are no alternatives. This is particularly important in developing nations where many sports can join together to share facilities.”

The industry, in the form of the European Synthetic Turf Organisation (ESTO) and the Synthetic Turf Council (STC), supports the initiative as a basis for the design and development of a sports facility.

The ‘One Turf Concept’ is separated into three parts, and should be consulted depending on the age of the field considered. For existing fields, it gives an overview of the minimum performance requirements that should be achieved by the field to ensure it addresses the player interaction requirements for a multi-sport surface. It also gives guidance on the ball interaction requirements that should be achieved.

For facilities considering installing a new field or replacing their existing field, the ‘One Turf Concept’ includes:

  • Player performance and ball interaction requirements as detailed above. 
  • Guidance on ensuring the longevity of the field through undertaking laboratory testing which simulates the wear and degradation of the individual elements due to climatic conditions.
  • Identification tests to ensure that the surface tested in the laboratory matches that installed on the field.
  • Guidance for those fields looking to achieve certification from one or more international federation with the identification of additional requirements that are insisted upon by each individual federation.

World Rugby, FIFA and FIH recognise the importance of the implementation of a regular and comprehensive maintenance regime to ensure that any artificial turf field continues to perform as intended throughout its lifetime. Adherence to the ‘One Turf Concept’ or to the individual performance requirements set out by the individual federations is unlikely to be achieved over the full potential life of the product without proper maintenance. The ability of a surface to achieve these standards should be measured through initial testing, performed when the surface has been installed, and regular testing throughout its lifetime.

Full details of the ‘One Turf Concept’ including extensive research data specific to artificial turf for rugby can be found HERE.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) issued a report that "found no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules as infill material."

SBR rubber granulate has been the subject of vociferous speculation regarding its potential toxicity to soccer players using artificial pitches containing this infill  

SBR rubber granulate has been the subject of vociferous speculation regarding its potential toxicity to soccer players using artificial pitches containing this infill  

In June 2016, the European Commission asked the ECHA to evaluate any risk to the general population, including children, professional players and workers installing or maintaining the fields from synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill. The ECHA's advice is based on their evaluation that there is "a very low level of concern from exposure to substances found in the granules."

The ECHA found that the concern for players and workers for lifetime cancer is very low, for metals is negligible and for phthalates, benzothiazole and methyl isobutyl ketone there are no concerns. The ECHA also noted that their conclusions are consistent with those found in the recent Dutch RIVM and Washington State studies. 

A copy of the report can be found here: https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13563/annex-xv_report_rubber_granules_en.pdf/dbcb4ee6-1c65-af35-7a18-f6ac1ac29fe4

Washington State Dept of Health conclude "artificial pitches containing rubber crumb does not cause cancer in soccer players"

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Yesterday the Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH) published one of the most detailed reports available on this issue concluding that there is no elevated risk of cancer among soccer players who play on artificial turf fields. As many of you know, the WA DOH two-year study was prompted by University of Washington Coach Amy Griffin's list of soccer players in the state with cancer. 

The report found: "We did not find the number of cancers among soccer players, select and premier players, or goalkeepers reported to the project team to be higher than expected based on Washington cancer rates for people of the same ages. Based on what we know today, the Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who enjoy soccer continue to play regardless of the type of field surface."

Link to report:

http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/EnvironmentalHealth/SyntheticTurf

Further evidence that SBR rubber granules used in artificial pitches is not harmful to users

SBR rubber granules within the artificial turf

SBR rubber granules within the artificial turf

Further evidence to support the conclusion that SBR rubber granules used in artificial pitches are not harmful to users

There have been a number of studies carried out in response to the European Chemicals Agencies (ECHA) call for comments and evidence on recycled rubber granules used in sports surfaces, and to this end they issued a deadline of the 9th January 2017 for submissions. Our colleague on a working group provided this information based on technical work done very recently in Portugal by the CT-181 committee, the Portuguese Technical Commission coordinated by the ONS APIB under the umbrella of IPQ, working as "mirror group" of CEN TC 366. We are grateful that they shared it with us.

This committee provided a number of papers to ECHA in support of evidence that granulated rubber crumb is not harmful to users of artificial surfaces. The work done - all by independent institutions once again concludes that players and indeed workers are not adversely affected by the exposure to SBR rubber crumb infill in artificial pitches or by repeated long-term exposure to SBR granules.

Two papers were of most interest involved testing workers who work in factories which granulate old tyres day in and day out and who are exposed to the materials 8 hours per day for in some cases many years. This paper which involved testing the subject’s urine for pyrene concluded that there was no agent present which would be attributed to exposure to rubber tyre processing in any samples tested. A further study of interest produced by the Institution superior technology (IST) suggests that the harmful materials/constituents contained in the rubber particles we ‘locked in’ such that exposure to the particles did not represent any risk to users of artificial pitches.

As agencies and institutions start to report the results of recent studies then the overwhelming evidence is growing that SBR granules used in artificial pitches is not harmful to users. The Industry welcomes independent studies, reports and scientific data on this matter. We will be very keen to learn the outcome of ECHA’s study with eager anticipation.

Click on the links below

Examination of end of life tyre granules

Preliminary evaluation of exposure to PAHs by workers of processing units in which crumb rubber granulates are produced

Artificial Turf, how does it measure up to good quality natural turf

Artificial turf, how does it measure up to good quality natural turf?

Way back in 2001 natural turf was assessed to index key performance parameters, these were used to put together the criteria for assessing the performance of artificial turf. The idea being to replicate good quality natural turf in the artificial turf being offered up by manufacturers.

Improved soils science has seen natural turf systems develop exponentially in the last 20 years

Improved soils science has seen natural turf systems develop exponentially in the last 20 years

It is fair to say that natural turf at the elite end of the spectrum has evolved and stadium pitches comprising of natural turf are high tech surfaces which can be durable. The big change however is not just a qualitative improvement in the surface but a change in its sports performance when it comes to player/ball interaction.

Looking at some key parameters which are of interest to those aficionados of artificial turf which can be measured in natural turf it is possible to get a clear picture of how the performance of natural turf is perhaps not replicated in today’s artificial turf systems!

Using a regime of tests which are commonly used to evaluate artificial turf allows us to make direct comparisons between good quality natural turf and the certified* artificial turf.

Testing using an advanced artificial athlete, head injury criteria equipment, traction, ball roll/bounce, clegg tester and GMax equipment means we can characterise key performance indicators which attempt to mimic player/ball surface interactions and therefore compare directly the performance of natural and artificial turf.

The increased use of ‘hybrid’ turf systems such as woven and or tufted artificial turf textile into which a root zone is applied. Or natural turf sown and grown in and injected artificial fibre systems (which have been around for a long time) that are available through several providers has added a new dynamic to natural turf systems.

The results of any testing protocol carried out on both natural and artificial turf must by the nature of these systems take in variation which is manufacturer/environment lead or influenced by the type of natural pitch surface that has been constructed.

The testing that we have conducted could be considered a snap shot of the performance of either turf system but in the analysis, seasonal variation and a large sample base has been evaluated this includes the fact that the artificial turf systems assessed were all targeted at a certified level.

How does it look with player surface interaction

A direct comparison of specific tests which affect athletic performance

This slide ILLUSTRATES a comparison of average shock absorption values across natrual, hybrid and artificial turf systems 

This slide ILLUSTRATES a comparison of average shock absorption values across natrual, hybrid and artificial turf systems 

Here we can see that all natural surfaces are considerably firmer than the artificial turf assessed. Good quality natural turf unaltered by synthetic fibre and or textile is the closest comparable surface but is still firmer than most artificial turf. Of interest is the considerable variance that can be observed between hybrid surfaces and artificial surfaces. 

this slide illustrates a comparison of average deformation values across natural, hybrid and artificial turf systems

this slide illustrates a comparison of average deformation values across natural, hybrid and artificial turf systems

Here we can see that all natural surfaces are considerably stiffer than the artificial turf assessed. Good quality natural turf unaltered by synthetic fibre and or textile is still the closest comparable surface but is still stiffer than most artificial turf. Of interest is the considerable variance that can be observed between hybrid surfaces and artificial surfaces. 

this slides illustrates the COMPARISON of average rotational resistance values across natural, hybrid and artificial turf 

this slides illustrates the COMPARISON of average rotational resistance values across natural, hybrid and artificial turf 

Here we can see that all natural surfaces exhibit less traction than artificial turf systems. The fact that artificial turf offers slightly more traction (grip) than natural turf is well documented. 

THIS SLIDES ILLUSTRATES THE COMPARISON OF ENERGY RESTITUTION VALUES ACROSS NATURAL, HYBRID AND ARTIFICIAL TURF

THIS SLIDES ILLUSTRATES THE COMPARISON OF ENERGY RESTITUTION VALUES ACROSS NATURAL, HYBRID AND ARTIFICIAL TURF

Here we can see that the energy restitution for natural turf systems is very low; here  we are trying to assess how much of the kinetic energy remains for the object to rebound from one another vs how much lost is lost as heat, or work done deforming the objects. Energy restitution is set to become one of the most important parameters we measure from the player/surface interaction in the future.  

Here we can see that all natural surfaces exhibit a greater ability to absorb the impact from a head/surface collision than artificial turf. In studies conducted on player concussions the surface has been found to contribute up to 30% of the total concussions sustained by player using either natural and or artificial surfaces.

So are the implications of this data

The study which focused heavily on player/surface interaction produced interesting findings when we look at how natural turf surfaces perform when compared to artificial turf systems. 

The question now may be, do we need to start to look at the criteria which is set for artificial turf and review this? Anecdotal evidence from players does suggest that firmer surfaces which still offer good shock absorption properties are the surface of choice. This subject given the apparent variance between good quality natural turf when compared with artificial turf does appear to warrant further research and assessment. It should be possible to suggest proposed criteria for artificial surfaces, it would be of interest to examine how current systems measure up to this.

Table shows current and suggested limits which could be considered.

Table shows current and suggested limits which could be considered.

The main issue would appear to be the feel of firmness or stiffness underfoot. Adding HIC could be considered to reduce the contribution the surface has to occurrence of concussion in the game. The jury is out when it comes to energy restitution as further studies are required to characterise this property. Rotational resistance looks about right at present limits. Food for thought?

   

RIVM, "playing sport on artificial turf is safe"

RIVM, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Holland has issued the statement “playing sport on artificial turf is safe”

RIVM a department of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in Holland made this statement following Research by the them which shows that sports on artificial pitches with rubber granules is not harmful. Rubber granules are a lot of different materials combined in small pellets, but there are only very low amounts of potentially harmful compounds present. This is because the substances are more or less 'locked up' within the granules. As a result, the adverse effect on the health is practically negligible.

Sports on fields with rubber granules

There are a lot of different substances in rubber granules, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, phthalates (plasticisers) and bisphenol A (BPA). There is little variation in the concentrations of substances between fields and between the measurement points per field. Thus, the results give a good picture for all fields of SBR rubber granules in the Netherlands.

No link to leukaemia

In the available scientific information found no signs that indicate a link between sports on artificial turf with rubber granules and the occurrence of leukaemia and lymphoma. From the composition of the rubber granules is apparent that the chemical substances that can cause leukaemia or lymph node cancer, there is no benzene and or 1,3-butadiene or in very low amount of 2-mercaptobenzothiazole contained within. In general, since the late eighties of the last century to see a slight increase in the number of people between 10 and 29 years of getting leukaemia. This development has not changed in the Netherlands since the artificial turf in 2001 was put into use.

Recommendation in order to adapt current standard

The RIVM recommends to adjust the standard for rubber crumb to a standard that is closer to the norm for consumer products. Rubber Granules must currently meet the standard for so-called pre-mixes. The standard for consumer products is considerably stricter: it is much lower (100 to 1000 times less) levels of PAHs to the standard mixture. The content of the PAHs studied within the fields the rubber granulate were sampled from is slightly above the norm for consumer products. Currently, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) shall study to examine the standard of rubber granules is desirable.

You can read the article for yourself here;

https://www.dagvandesportaccommodaties.nl/nl/over-de-beurs/nieuws/item/6/rivm-sporten-op-kunstgras-is-veilig?platform=hootsuite

 

SAPCA/SATS Technical Workshop to be held at Sports Labs new Offices and Laboratories in Livingston

SAPCA/SATS Technical Workshop Thursday the 24th November 2016

"Understanding Performance Standards and Test Methods for Synthetic Turf Pitches"

Keynote 1 - Grand opening of Sports Labs world leading testing laboratory

Keynote 2 - Launch of Scottish FA 3G facilities guidelines

Keynote 3 – An up to date perspective of monitoring and testing

To be hosted at Sports Labs Ltd 1 Adam Court Brucefield Industrial Estate, Livingston

Hear from the experts in sports surfaces