No Health Risk From Recycled Tire Rubber Crumb, BIR Reports

“Extremely negative” publicity continues to surround the use of tire-derived crumb rubber in synthetic turf despite evidence from all studies worldwide concluding there is no risk to human health, according to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).

At the BIR Tyres & Rubber Committee meeting in New Delhi on October 15, its Chairman Barend Ten Bruggencate of Dutch tire collection organization Recybem reported that TV programs aired recently in the Netherlands have alleged a connection between rubber granulate and health risks to human embryos, as well as an environmental impact from leaching into the soil.

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“But there is no evidence,” Bruggencate said.

On the issue of leaching, committee chairman Ten Bruggencate added, tests on water from underneath synthetic turf pitches have indicated that the quality is actually higher than for rainwater.

Similarly, in the US, a series of national news stories broadcast over the last three years has suggested that recycled rubber fields can cause cancer in youth soccer players – but “with no specific evidence”, according to Robin Wiener, President of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

A multi-agency study involving, among others, the Environmental Protection Agency is “at least a year away” from publishing its conclusions about crumb rubber use in synthetic turf, Wiener said.

“It is unfortunate that “the issue is not going away until there is a definitive study issued,” Wiener said. On-going “speculation” has already led to a 30% market decline for crumb rubber in recent years, she said.

She urged the research community to be categorical about the risk factor “to help parents, teachers and policy-makers understand the true risks”. Almost 100 studies have been conducted worldwide into crumb rubber use and “none of them have found a health risk”, Wiener said.

© Scrap Tire News, November 2017