BRUSSELS (June 28, 2016) — The European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA) is calling on all stakeholders in the artificial rubber turf sector to come together to refute allegations that crumb rubber used in sports fields is harmful to humans and the environment.
The ETRA's call for action is in response to a request from the European Commission for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to examine the safety of crumb rubber, particularly with regard to its polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content.
The Brussels authority's move follows the launch of similar investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
“With some 39 percent of recycled tire rubber being directed to sports surfaces — bonded, molded or loose, as well as infill — any adverse outcome of such research would be incredibly damaging to the tire recycling sector and would create a crisis in waste tire management,” the ETRA said in a June 25 statement.
Any restriction on the use of recyclate in these application would be “incredibly damaging to the tire recycling sector and would create a crisis in waste tire management,” it said.
Europe has an oversupply of scrap-tire-derived rubber and must export the excess to India and other markets to avoid stockpiling, the ETRA said.
Turin, Italy, recently conducted research showing that there is no significant difference between levels of potential contaminants in artificial turf fields and those from heavily trafficked city streets, according to ETRA President Ettore Musacchi.
The association is working with the European Rubber Chemicals Association and other trade groups to present a united position on artificial turf, the ETRA said.
The U.S. EPA and California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are conducting studies on the potential health and environmental effects of artificial turf.
The ETRA cited more than 50 studies on artificial turf in its 2007 “Artificial Turf Compendium,” according to the organization.
These studies — as well as 41 cited by the EPA and another 10 listed by the Synthetic Turf Association — show no harmful effects from crumb rubber infill, it said.