Amount Awarded:
Funding Received:
Project Status:
 Active: Planning phase

Executive Summary

In recent decades, the prevalence of artificial turf fields have increased drastically. The University of Washington has installed numerous outdoor turf fields to benefit student health and well-being and create surfaces where students can train and recreate in all weather. However, the installation of fields filled with waste tire rubber may be negatively impacting aquatic life in nearby waterways. Recently, 6PPD-quinone (an ozone transformation product (TP) from a common tire rubber additive, 6PPD) was found to be very highly toxic to aquatic organisms, including coho salmon, chinook salmon, steelhead salmon. In fact, 6PPD-quinone is acutely toxic to coho salmon at extremely low concentrations (95 ng/L), placing 6PPD-quinone in the top five acutely toxic compounds to aquatic organisms. 

While the environmental impact alone makes the investigation of 6PPD-quinone (and related PPD compounds) pressing, there are important cultural, financial and societal impacts of its release into the environment that are extremely relevant for a public university on indigenous lands to study and prioritize. Native American tribes in the region have deeply rooted environmental and cultural relationships with the land that are closely tied to both water and aquatic species, namely salmon. Therefore, the monitoring and reduction of 6PPD-quinone release on campus is both of environmental and social significance for our local and broader communities.  

Emerging research over the last two years has focused on the impacts of tire wear particles from road runoff on receiving bodies of water, but little research has been conducted to determine the impacts of runoff from turf fields filled with waste tire rubber. Herein we propose a student-led, two-phase project to monitor the impact of UW turf fields on water quality and to develop solutions with interested stakeholders. This project will start with a feasibility study, and if the feasibility study is successful, a full scale monitoring project and evaluation of potential alternatives or treatments will follow. 

Goals for Phase I (Feasibility Study):

  • Collect turf infill samples from all five outdoor fields on UW Seattle campus.
  • Identify catch basins and outflows from turf field runoff for sampling.
  • Conduct bench-top maximum and environmentally relevant leaching studies on turf infill to determine potential leaching mass of 6PPD-quinone (and other antidegradant TPs).
  • Develop a sampling timeline and procedure for Phase II.
  • Identify infill alternatives or treatment options to assess in Phase II with the input of stakeholders.
  • Raise local awareness of the ecological and societal issues derived from 6PPD-quinone.
  • Conduct a perception study of how athletes, community groups, facilities, and staff perceive the different treatment or product replacement options.

Tentative Goals for Phase II:

  • Collect samples from previously identified catch basins during storm events throughout the rainy season (October-March).
  • Test alternative infill options for 6PPD-quinone leaching with bench-top studies to generate a list of product replacement options for facilities.
  • Evaluate potential treatment options for future studies (i.e. retention basin under Husky stadium or sorbent media filters).
  • Submit monitoring results for publication.
Primary Contact:
Alanna Hildebrandt