Ajax scraps rubber artificial turf over long-term health concerns

Ajax decided to replace the artificial turf on four training fields in training complex De Toekomst. These turfs contain the much discussed rubber granules. And the Amsterdam team decided to rather remove the turfs as a precaution after a number of scientists expressed concerns about possible health risks to players, AD reports. 

Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health and Sports asked health institute RIVM to re-examine whether rubber granules - made from old tires and said to contain carcinogenic substances - really do pose a health risk to athletes. The RIVM expects to have results by the end of the year.

But Ajax decided not to wait for the results. The Amsterdam team is taking immediate action because their artificial turfs are used a lot more than those of amateur clubs. "We feel responsible for the players", a spokesperson said, according to the newspaper. He added that there is as yet no concrete evidence that the fields are really harmful.

On Thursday Ajax sent a letter to parents of young players to inform them that the turf will be replaced. When exactly this will happen is unclear. According to the club, there are several alternatives to replace the rubber granule turfs. They are still examining which is the best option. In the coming weeks players will use the artificial turfs as usual.

The potential health risks of artificial turf caused quite a commotion last week. Several clubs decided to cancel practices on turf. Amsterdam decided to continue as usual, following the current advice of the RIVM. 78 percent of the Dutch capital's fields are artificial turf with rubber granules. The municipality does, however, advice players to wash well after playing on turf.