January 2017: In an earlier post, I described what was then known about the study of the health risks of crumb rubber used on synthetic turf playing fields. In that post, I noted that a study of that issue was being initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Late last month, the EPA released the first status report based on that Federal study. This report describes the progress that has been made so far. It contains a summary of the data that are available in the peer-reviewed literature on the health effects of exposure to crumb rubber and an analysis of “data gaps”; that is, those issues related to this topic for which more information is needed. The status report also includes the current state of knowledge about crumb rubber characterization, exposure assessment, and a summary of a CPSC playground study.
So far, samples of crumb rubber have been collected from nine tire recycling plants and at 40 synthetic turf fields (both indoor and outdoor). Analyzing the collected crumb rubber samples and better characterization of the exposure aspects of this issue will continue in 2017, especially in the hotter months of the year. The CPSC playground study will also continue this year.
The EPA status report does not include any research findings, which was disappointing. Apparently, we will have to wait to discover what these agencies have actually found out about the health risks of crumb rubber on playing fields. The status report and future updates concerning the Federal study are or will be available at the EPA’s crumb rubber website: www.epa.gov/tirecrumb.