After the Zembla TV documentary on potential health hazards associated with playing on artificial grass with rubber infill, broadcast last October, health minister Schippers lost little time commissioning the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) to investigate the matter. There was substantial public concern, so the pressure was on: the investigation had to be completed before Christmas.
Parents of children playing football were particularly worried. As a precaution, football clubs and local councils took drastic measures. Some clubs decided to ban artificial grass pitches altogether for the time being, or kept young footballers and goal keepers from using these pitches for training or match play. Other clubs still decided to delay the building of such pitches, or replaced the rubber granules with alternative infill. For example, the Amsterdam city council banned rubber granules from newly built sports grounds, while Ajax football club has meanwhile replaced their rubber infill with cork.
In mid-December, following a two-month investigation, the RIVM gave its final verdict: artificial grass was perfectly safe. The harmful chemicals inside the rubber granules, which are made from old car tires, were released at such low levels that the risk is negligible, the RIVM ruled. So the ‘all clear’ signal was issued.
This failed to put paid to all concerns raised, however. ZEMBLA decides to look into the matter, to see if the book on the hazards of using rubber granules for artificial grass pitches should indeed be closed.
ZEMBLA: ‘Dangerous play – The sequel’, Wednesday 15 February 2017, 9.20 p.m. on NPO2 channel (broadcast by VARA)
The subtitled version will be available on this page on Wednesday 15 February at 9:20 p.m.