Although Tire Recycling is a century old industry it didn’t reach mass awareness until the advent of the second generation of synthetic turf fields. In the late 90’s FieldTurf introduced this new generation of artificial turf that played more like natural turf and provided a safer surfacing through a patented infill blend of sand and cryogenically recycled tire rubber (crumb rubber).
Over the next decade the market for synthetic turf expanded rapidly and many new competitors entered the arena. As the exposure to this new technology grew, some consumers questioned the safety (both health and environmental) of using waste tire materials in these applications.
In 2009, New York Parks & Recreation Department banned crumb rubber infill. This set off a firestorm of new testing and an analytic review of the extensive body of work that had already been done examining the safety of crumb rubber.
Over the next few years, study after study came to the same conclusion; crumb rubber used in synthetic turf and playground applications poses no elevated health risk to consumers or the environment.
So what concerns remain regarding crumb rubber and what do the experts and the various studies show about the validity of those concerns:
What the studies show: although tires are manufactured using some potentially harmful chemicals, the EPA, the State of California and many other government agencies have conducted extensive testing and concluded virtually no harmful chemicals are released over time from crumb rubber and the level of potentially harmful chemicals that is released is at such a low level it poses no elevated health risk to consumers or the environment including ground water supplies.
What the studies show: bacterial growth does not occur on crumb rubber or in synthetic turf fields and studies show lower likelihood of infection from contact in synthetic turf fields. Furthermore studies have shown no increased health risk from dermal abrasion, inhalation or even infrequent ingestion of crumb rubber used on outdoor fields and playgrounds.
Waste tire management and tire recycling produces many benefits to local communities by diverting waste from landfills and using recycled content to produce innovative products and solutions. Federal and local government agencies from the EPA to CalRecycle endorse the use of recycled tire rubber for applications ranging from tire derived fuel to playground surfacing to landscape cover and paving. The body of evidence has clearly exonerated crumb rubber of the claims of human health and environmental risks and show it to be a valuable and viable renewable raw material resource. Visit Environmental Molding Concepts LLC to read many of the studies and decide for yourself.