PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17554424 Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.

Our Guidelines for Cleaner Pitches

We have collated best practice guidelines to help keep microplastic in mind at every stage of choosing, designing, maintaining and using a pitch. These documents include suggestions from alternatives to plastic, to simple barriers that can be used to stop microplastic escaping into the environment.

How does the guide work?

Everyone involved with artificial pitches can play an important role in making your pitch more environmentally friendly. The practical steps you can take will depend largely on your role, so we have split our guide into 3 parts. Click on the appropriate link to download your very own pdf copy of the guide:

Guidelines for Designers and Procurement Specialists

The following guidelines have been created for industry to take into account, and aim to prevent, microplastic loss during design, build and renewal of pitches. These guidelines are also relevant to procurement specialists, and those submitting a pitch construction to tender. Recommendations are made assuming a new pitch is being built, but many also apply to retrofitting old pitches.

The aim is for any changes to be as simple and low cost as possible.

Guidelines for Owners and Maintenance Teams

If you’re interested in this guide, you probably own or manage a synthetic turf field. These simple recommendations will help to make sure any infill you use stays on the pitch. It includes information on alternatives to microplastic, physical barriers, making changes to maintenance routines, and working together with pitch users to prevent loss.

We hope that these small changes will not only protect the local environment of the pitch, but may also save resources, while keeping the pitch in the best possible condition for players.

Guidelines for Pitch Users

This guidance document is for pitch users. Have you ever noticed the little black granules in your shoes and kit after a game of football on an artificial pitch? Did you know that these little specks are usually made of rubber, and are classed as a type of microplastic? If they escape the pitch, these granules can find their way into the surrounding environment and can cause harm to wildlife.

By following these simple steps, you can do your bit to help to keep infill on the pitch, and reduce the environmental impact of your local field.

 

These guidelines have been collated by Fidra and KIMO International, using expert advice from industry and feedback from sites in Sweden, Norway and Denmark where trials are already underway.

We are constantly striving to improve these documents, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further suggestions or insights into reducing microplastic loss from pitches.