Brackin spoke partly on behalf of the Synthetic Turf Council, a 210-member association of artificial rubber turf producers founded in 2003.
The STC is in a coalition comprised of the Institute of Scrap Processing Industries, the Safe Fields Alliance and the Recycled Rubber Council. They joined forces to defend the safety and utility of crumb rubber infill in artificial athletic turf, she said.
Infilled rubber athletic turf is still a new industry, Brackin said, with the first rubber-infilled athletic field installed in 1997.
Since 2007, about 4.5 billion feet of synthetic turf has been installed worldwide, including 800 million feet in the U.S. alone, she said.
Some 20,000 scrap tires are used in every infilled athletic field, according to Brackin.
“These fields are durable systems that can last eight years or more,” she said.
“When they wear out,” she said, “many of their components can be recycled, including the recycled rubber infill.
“They need no water for irrigation. They need no fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides.”
The artificial turf industry was perplexed two years ago when news reports from NBC News and other outlets presented anecdotal evidence purporting to link crumb rubber exposure to cancer, according to Brackin.
“Because synthetic turf and crumb rubber were now synonymous in the media, we decided we needed a collaborative effort, and so we got to work,” Brackin said of the industry coalition.
The coalition hired a firm to study current awareness and perceptions of crumb rubber, according to Brackin.
Based on these results, the industry chose an evidence-based message strategy with specific messaging for various stakeholders, she said.