EPA Releases Final Crumb Rubber Report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  and the Center For Disease Control Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC-ATSDR) have released the second half of the Synthetic Turf Field Recycled Tire Crumb Rubber Characterization Research Final Report: Part 2 -Tire Crumb Rubber Exposure Characterization.

This report is part of the Federal Research Action Plan (FRAP) on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds,  a multi-agency research effort launched in 2016 by EPA and the CDC to characterize the chemicals associated with tire crumb rubber. The study found no significant difference in the exposure from certain chemicals found between players who played on synthetic turf fields that use crumb rubber infill and those who played on grass fields

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The release of the final report, the largest of its kind conducted in the United States, drew swift reaction from the tire industry, tire recycling companies, the synthetic turf industry  and recycling organizations, recognizing the importance of the study and applauding EPA’s work in completing the research.

“Safety has always been one of our top priorities for the public, our employees, and the environment,” Thomas Womble, CEO of Liberty Tire Recycling, said.  “I want to thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies that have worked on this project to help reassure the public about the use of recycled rubber.”

This study adds a powerful new resource to the body of literature demonstrating that recycled rubber is a win for the public and the environment, he said.

The report found that players using synthetic turf fields with crumb rubber infill were exposed to levels of specific chemicals—pyrene, benzo[a]pyrene, zinc, and lead— but had exposure levels that “ were similar to, or somewhat lower”  or even “substantially lower “ than the general public.

Air emissions were found to be “no different”; metal concentrations were “similar to those in the general public” and there were no significant differences in PAHs.

These results corroborate findings from similar studies that concluded the “risk to health from playing sports on these synthetic turf fields is virtually negligible” and found  “no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules as infill material.”

While the study is not a risk assessment, the agencies said the results of the research will advance understanding of exposure and could be used to inform the risk assessment.

“We thank the EPA for the dedication and time that went into this report and are pleased to see it reaffirms what other research has shown: synthetic turf and its system components are safe,” Melanie Taylor, President and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, Forest Hills, Maryland, said.

“Synthetic turf systems unlock thousands of hours of additional play across America, save millions of gallons of water annually, and provide a more consistent playing surface. Our industry has long been and remains committed to safety and creating sustainable play spaces, and we are pleased to see that the largest study ever conducted on crumb rubber infill in the country demonstrates there is no elevated health exposure for playing on synthetic turf systems,” STC’s statement said.

The Washington, DC-based Rubber Recycling Coalition also released a statement saying “This report adds to a growing body of evidence that confirms what we have long known to be true: Crumb rubber infill is safe and crumb rubber turf fields are as safe as natural grass fields.

It is of the utmost importance to our industry that playspaces are safe for our loved ones, and that is why we have supported this research from the outset,”

“We want to express our appreciation to the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the years of work that went into this thoughtful, thorough assessment,” the RRC adds.

In summary, ” although chemicals are present (as expected) in the tire crumb rubber and exposures can occur,”  the report concludes that such exposure is “ likely limited.”

The Federal Research Action Plan on the Use of Tire Crumbs in Playing Fields, launched in 2016, has played a pivotal role in addressing concerns surrounding crumb rubber infill.The collaborative efforts of various agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have resulted in these comprehensive findings, Tire Industry Association (TIA), said in its response to release of the report.

“The Tire Industry Association  extends its gratitude to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal entities involved in this landmark initiative for reaffirming the public’s confidence in the use of recycled rubber. TIA has been a staunch advocate for crumb rubber and has actively opposed state-level legislation seeking to restrict its use,” Roy Littlefield, TIA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, said.

© Scrap Tire News, May 2024