BRUSSELS—All stakeholders in the artificial rubber turf sector must come together to refute allegations that crumb rubber used in sports fields are harmful to humans and the environment, the European Tyre Recycling Association said in a news release.
“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,” said the June 25 ETRA statement.
Europe already has an oversupply of scrap tire derived-rubber and must import the excess to India and other markets to avoid stockpiling, the ETRA said.
The City of 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, the ETRA's Ettore Musacchi was quoted as saying in the release.
“Musacchi pointed out that this was a complex situation and it needed addressing by all involved,” the ETRA said. “There needed to be a wide cooperation to resolve the issues around rubber infill.”
The ETRA is working with the European Rubber Chemicals Association and other associations to present a united position on artificial turf, the ETRA said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are currently conducting studies on the potential health and environmental effects of artificial turf.
The European Commission has written to the European Chemicals Agency, asking its Risk Management Unit to monitor these studies and other available evidence on crumb rubber, the ETRA said.
The ETRA cited more than 50 studies on artificial turf in its 2007 “Artificial Turf Compendium,” the association said.
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.