EPA Releases Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Status Report

Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled tire crumb rubber used in playing fields and playgrounds. Studies to date have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb rubber, but these studies have limitations and do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb rubber.

That’s why early in 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in collaboration with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), launched a multi-agency effort called the Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds to study key environmental and human health questions.

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The coordinated Federal Research Action Plan includes outreach to key stakeholders, such as athletes and parents, and seeks to fill important data and knowledge gaps, characterize constituents of recycled tire crumb and identify ways in which people may be exposed to tire crumb based on their activities on the fields.

On December 30, 2016 the agencies released a status report on the Federal Research Action Plan describing the progress of the research to date. The status report is available on the EPA’s Tire Crumb website: www.epa.gov/tirecrumb.

This status report provides a summary of the agencies’ activities to-date, including stakeholder outreach; tire and tire crumb rubber manufacturing process; final peer-reviewed Literature Review/Gaps Analysis; tire crumb rubber characterization and exposure characterization research; use of recycled rubber tires on playgrounds; next steps and a timeline.

The Literature Review/Gaps Analysis (LRGA), a key component of the multi-agency report, was developed to provide a current summary of the available literature and capture the data gaps as characterized in those publications. The Literature Review/Gaps Analysis identifies 90 references. Each reference was reviewed and categorized according to 20 general information categories (e.g., study topic, geographic location, sample type, conditions and populations studied) and more than 100 sub-categories (e.g., study topic subcategories: site characterization, production process, leaching, off-gassing, microbial analysis, human risk).

The FRAP status report includes a summary spreadsheet of the Literature Review/Gaps Analysis as well as the full Literature Analysis Report.

For the characterization of the chemicals research, tire crumb material has been collected from tire recycling plants and synthetic turf fields around the U.S. Tire crumb samples have been gathered from nine tire crumb recycling plants, 19 fields located on US Army installations and 21 community fields including both indoor and outdoor fields.

Next Steps and Timeline
Analysis of the tire crumb samples collected from fields and recycling facilities, and the exposure characterization component of the study will continue in 2017. Parts of the exposure study may be conducted during the hotter months of 2017. The CPSC playground study also will continue in 2017.

Since research is currently ongoing, the status report does not include any preliminary research findings. The results of the synthetic turf fields research will be available later in 2017, EPA said.

While this effort won’t provide all the answers about whether synthetic turf fields are safe, it represents the first time that such a large study is being conducted across the U.S., the report said. The study will provide a better understanding of potential exposures that athletes and others may experience and will help answer some of the key questions that have been raised. Depending upon the findings, available resources and other considerations, additional research beyond the first year may be conducted.

© Scrap Tire News, January 2017