In a recent press release the European Tyre Recycling Association, ETRA, has stated that all the actors in the artificial turf sector need to unite in order to counter the allegations about the impact of tire rubber granulate used in sports fields. The claims that have been made state that tyre rubber has a harmful effect on the players, who are in contact with the rubber infill, particularly the goalkeepers.

However, the results of the past two decades researching the subject do not show anything linking tyre rubber to cancer. The USA Environmental Protection Agency has listed 41 independent empirical researches, none of which have found any harmful effects of using tyre rubber in sports infill. The Synthetic Turf Association has listed 10 more similar reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ has cited over fifty studies on the topic.

Dr. Ettore Musacchi from ETRA has stated that in an investigation carried out by the City of Turin, Italy, comparative tests have shown no major differences between the levels of potential contaminants from sports fields and those sampled in the local urban area or on heavily trafficked streets.

He also stressed that this was a complex situation and it needed addressing by all parties involved. There needed to be a wide co-operation to resolve the issues around rubber infill. ETRA is looking into this alongside the European Rubber Chemicals Association and other bodies.

The European Commission has written to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) requesting that their Risk Management Unit review the available evidence and scientific literature on crumb rubber and PAHs and to closely follow the US inquiries on crumb rubber (ie, those started by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) and analyse their findings.

With some 39 per cent of recycled tyre rubber being directed to sports surfaces (bonded, moulded, or loose, as well as infill) any adverse outcome of such research would be incredibly damaging to the tyre recycling sector and would create a crisis in waste tyre management, as Europe already has an oversupply of tyre derived stock and relies on exporting its waste to India and other markets in order to prevent stockpiling in Europe.

Source: The European Tyre Recycling Association