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ASTM to develop new safety standard for impact attenuation of artificial turf sports fields using HIC test method

Last week at the ASTM meeting held in San Antonio May 2-3, the subcommittee on synthetic turf apparently agreed that the hemispherical E-Missile is the appropriate device to use for the development of a new test standard for synthetic turf sports surfaces and will now be moving forward on the development of a new standard for impact attenuation on synthetic turf sports fields.  This is the same test device currently used in standards for playgrounds, pole vault and wall padding. Next steps in revising safety standards for synthetic turf fields using the E-Missile will be to determine test parameters, including the drop height limit, number of locations, and more.

Currently the ASTM standard for measuring safety of synthetic turf fields is the GMAX test, outlined in ASTM 1936 protocol. GMAX uses the A-Missile, a 20-pound, flat, cylindrical weight dropped from a 24-inch height.  It has been widely discussed across the sports field industry whether or not the A-Missile is the proper device to adequately measure the relative risk of head injury on synthetic turf fields. Many believe that the standard should include use of the E-Missile, a hemispherical “head-form” missile that produces HIC or Head Injury Criteria, and may more adequately represent the head-to-ground impact.  There is now consensus to move this forward.

Paragon Sports Constructors understanding is that the GMAX test utilizing the A-Missile will remain in place to cover legacy contracts while the new standard is developed.  Current industry safety standards for synthetic turf sports fields measured by the GMAX A-Missile are 200 g’s as outlined by ASTM and 165 g’s as outlined by the Synthetic Turf Council (STC).

As the national conversation around sports concussions continues to grow, and as we develop a better understanding about head trauma in both student and adult athletes, the artificial sports surface has become an area of focus in regards to improving safety.

While there will be much debate and discussion on this topic, a new ASTM standard will likely become effective during the next lifecycle of synthetic turf fields.

In February Paragon Sports Constructors hosted a sports field safety and performance seminar in Frisco, Texas titled SYNTHETIC SPORTS FIELDS: THE NEXT DECADE.  The seminar featured prominent researchers from around the country who addressed a wide range of sports field topics including: head safety, health concerns of crumb rubber (and other turf infill), heat generation of synthetic turf, injuries on synthetic and natural fields as well as these proposed changes to sports field safety measurement protocol.  As a sports construction company, we try to stay abreast of research and developments in the sports field industry and pass that information along to our market.  Since the seminar we have strived to keep our attendees up to date on these topics as they evolve so that facility owners and designers can make informed decisions regarding their sports facility projects.  We believe the evolution of these topics to be pertinent to all sports field owners, managers, designers and users; in an effort to keep all interested parties up to date we share this recent milestone in sports field safety measurement protocol.

Administrators or designers with questions on this topic, or who are interested in receiving further updates regarding sports field safety and performance may contact Katie Markovich at Paragon Sports Constructors via email, kmarkovich@paragon-sports.com, to be included in future communications.

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