BRUSSELS—The Bureau of International Recycling insists there is no evidence to support claims that the use of tire-derived crumb rubber in synthetic turf poses a risk to human health.
Despite all the "extremely negative" publicity, studies carried out worldwide all found such claims to be unfounded, Brussels-based BIR said in an Oct. 23 news release. The statement noted allegations on Dutch TV claiming a connection between rubber granulate and health risks to human embryos, as well as an environmental impact from leaching into the soil.
"But there is no evidence," Barend Ten Bruggencate, of Dutch tire collection organization Recybem, said when speaking at a BIR tires and rubber committee meeting in New Delhi on Oct. 15.
On the issue of leaching, committee chairman Ten Bruggencate added that tests on water from underneath synthetic turf fields have indicated that the quality is actually higher than for rainwater.
Similarly in the U.S., a series of national news stories broadcast had suggested that recycled rubber fields can cause cancer in youth soccer players, the meeting also heard. These claims are coming with "with no specific evidence," according Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, who noted that a multi-agency study involving the Environmental Protection Agency was "at least a year away" from publishing its conclusions.
"It is unfortunate that the issue is not going away until there is a definitive study," Wiener said, noting that on-going speculation had caused a 30 percent market decline for crumb rubber in recent years.