The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has terminated its longtime campaign to promote the use of recycled tires on artificial turf fields and playgrounds, amid growing concern from critics in California and elsewhere who fear the material poses a health risk to people.
Millions of children and athletes across the nation play on surfaces that contain rubber from scrap tires. The rubber is transformed into colorful soft landing mats beneath playground equipment or shredded to act as a replacement for wood bark at schools and parks. Ground up further, it makes up the tiny black pebbles that give resiliency to artificial turf.
But environmental groups and health advocates say the EPA failed to thoroughly study the health effects of the so-called “crumb rubber” because the agency was vested in promoting recycling of the material as a solution to the nation’s growing stockpile of scrap tires. They fear the crumb rubber infill, used in artificial fields since the 1990s, has contributed to cancer cases in 126 soccer, field hockey and football players across the nation.