ETRA: No harmful effects of using crumb tyre rubber in sports infill

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Source: European Tyre Recycling Association

Brussels — ETRA, The European Tyre Recycling Association, has declared that there is a need for all the actors in the artificial turf sector to come together and move to refute allegations about the impact of tyre rubber granulate used in sports fields. In recent years, unfounded claims have been made that recycled tyre rubber has a harmful effect on sports players who come into contacts with the rubber infill – in particular those in goalkeeping roles.

However, despite two decades of research on the subject, funded by industry, the government and public interest groups, there is no empirical research that links tyre rubber to cancer. The USA Environmental Protection Agency lists some 41 independent projects, none of which find any harmful effects of using tyre rubber in sports infill. The Synthetic Turf Association lists another 10 such reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ cites over fifty studies on the issue.

ETRA’s Dr. Ettore Musacchi reports that in an investigation carried out by the City of Turin, Italy, comparative tests showed no significant difference between the levels of potential contaminants from sports fields and those sampled in the local urban area or on heavily trafficked streets. Musacchi pointed out that this was a complex situation and it needed addressing by all those involved. There needed to be a wide co-operation to resolve the issues around rubber infill. ETRA is looking into this alongside the European Rubber Chemicals Association and other bodies.

The European Commission has written to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) requesting that their Risk Management Unit review the available evidence and scientific literature on crumb rubber and PAHs and to closely follow the US inquiries on crumb rubber (ie, those started by the Environmental Protection Agency and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) and analyse their findings.

With some 39 per cent of recycled tyre rubber being directed to sports surfaces (bonded, moulded, or loose, as well as infill) any adverse outcome of such research would be incredibly damaging to the tyre recycling sector and would create a crisis in waste tyre management, as Europe already has an oversupply of tyre derived stock and relies on exporting its waste to India and other markets in order to prevent stockpiling in Europe.

Source: The European Tyre Recycling Association