Alternatives to Crumb Rubber Infill in Synthetic Turf

By Amanda Folck—Sustainable Plant Systems: Turfgrass Science

Crumb rubber is a type of infill made up of grinded vehicle tires, which is the most common infill in synthetic (or artificial) turfgrass. The infill is used to help keep hardiness of the sew fibers. It is a similar process to what sand does for the natural turfgrass (Synthetic Turf Council).

But what is the issue relating to crumb rubber infill? Is there any alternative to use a different infill for synthetic turf?

Synthetic Turf with Crumb Rubber Infill

Synthetic Turf with Crumb Rubber Infill at Fred Beekman Park, Columbus Ohio

Issue with Crumb Rubber Infill

There has been concern from the public and athletes about the use of recycled crumb rubber in synthetic turf. Recently, there has been an increase of people getting cancer who have played on the synthetic turf and are accusing the crumb rubber infill for the cancer. Currently the EPA, CDC, and other federal agencies are investigating the connection of cancer and the crumb rubber use in synthetic turf (EPA). Schools and other places that use crumb rubber have removed their synthetic fields or changed the infill due to the possible risk.

Alternative Infills

Depending on the company that installs the synthetic turf field, there is other alternative infills that can be used for synthetic turf. Examples include:

  • Silica Sand
  • Coated Rubber Infill
  • Coated Silica Infill
  • TPE Infill

(Synthetic Turf Council)

For more information:

Amanda Folck is a Senior in Sustainable Plant Systems: Turfgrass Science with a Minor in Plant Pathology. She currently works as a Turfgrass Student Assistant for Ohio State. This summer, she will be in the United Kingdom for her internship working with Arsenal Football Club! You can follow her internship at

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.


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