Beijing and Shenzhen, China – Chinese authorities are inspecting polyurethane-based and synthetic school running tracks and suspending new school athletic track construction.
According a BBC news report, the inspections follow reports of primary school children suffering nose bleeds, allergies and dry eyes after using a Beijing sports track.
All construction of new school athletic tracks has also been suspended, according to a statement by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, the BBC article said.
It is widely reported within China that at least some of the tracks under scrutiny within Beijing and Shenzhen are PU-based, as are the majority of running tracks in China.
Last November, authorities in Shenzhen tore up an athletics track after tests showed it contained more than 140 times the permitted level of methylbenzene, according to the BBC report.
The running track at Meilian Primary School in Shenzhen – as reported by Shenzen Daily at the time – was found to contain toxins. Furthermore, at more than 10 schools in Futian, Nanshan, Longgang and Bao’an districts were found to have tracks that contained toxins or are suspected of containing poisons.
The city government and the education bureau planned to remove tracks at two Shenzen schools that failed tests.
According to a report provided by the municipal education bureau, the air quality at the courts and fields at all 11 schools met environmental standards, the Shenzen Daily article said.
“The plastic tracks in China mainly consist of polyurethane, a kind of nontoxic material,” Ye Ping, deputy director of Taizhou Product Quality Supervision and Inspection Institute, told the China Daily. “However, suppliers may add toxic adhesives. They give off a pungent smell and may cause itching and dizziness.
“Some suppliers may also add a kind of material that helps the plastic solidify, but contains lead which will raise lead levels above normal in children’s blood after longtime exposure.”
Ye told the paper that that the country has no regulations regarding toxins in running tracks.