For several months media have been reporting that there may be a concern with tire derived products that are part of synthetic turf playing fields. These reports, while originating in the United States, are also being reported on in Canada.
There have been numerous independent scientific studies conducted over the past two decades that have reviewed the health effects of crumb rubber, and the findings from these studies do not indicate that there are negative health effects associated with the use of recycled rubber in synthetic turf.
To learn more please explore the following links:
- Synthetic Turf Council
- Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA)
- United States Environmental Protection Agency – The Use of Recycled Tire Materials on Playgrounds & Artificial Turf Fields
- NBC news report
- Recycled Rubber Council
We support the research being done by the aforementioned agencies. As additional findings become available, CATRA and its members will review the results and assess the implications.
Q1: Is crumb rubber safe?
It is important to note that CATRA as an organization is not a health expert; that said, many independent studies have reviewed the health effects of crumb rubber and the evidence indicates there are no negative health effects associated with the use of recycled rubber in synthetic turf. Please review the studies and additional background information above.
Q2: How is crumb rubber made?
Tires are first shredded into large chunks. The steel and fibre are separated and removed from the rubber. The rubber is then broken down further into small particles of rubber known as crumb, which can be used to manufacture a wide range of products – from playing fields to planters. For more information, please visit Tire and Rubber Association of Canada’s (TRAC) page and watch the video on tire recycling.
Q3: Are all recycled tire products, including crumb rubber, safe?
Based on current research, products that are in market today are safe for their intended purposes.
Q4: Have you conducted studies? Why not?
CATRA is responsible for supporting effective scrap tire diversion and recycling across Canada – our focus is on waste management, as such we have not conducted any studies ourselves. We are however supportive of more studies being conducted should more information be required. Please review the studies and additional background information above.
Q5: Why are you supporting this product if you can’t say that it is safe?
Based on our knowledge and currently available independent studies, using crumb rubber in playing fields is a safe application of using recycled tires. We can also share that many independent studies have reviewed the health effects of crumb rubber and the evidence indicates there are no negative health effects associated with the use of recycled rubber in synthetic turf. Please review the studies and additional background information above.
Q6: What is CATRA’s role in marketing crumb rubber?
CATRA is an organization with the mission to ensure scrap tires are responsibly recycled and not illegally or unsafely disposed of in the environment. Our members, the not-for-profits and, in some cases, government organizations, are responsible for carrying out this mission to deliver programs in a variety of ways, but none are directly involved in or benefit from the production or sale of crumb rubber.
Q7: What other products use crumb rubber?
The majority of crumb rubber is used to make pour-in-place playground surfaces, gym mats, commercial flooring, roofing shingles, rig mats, horse mats, truck bed liners, automotive parts, and even garden edging and planters.
Q8: Is CATRA not biased? Don’t manufacturers of these products sit on your board?
No. CATRA’s board only includes the Chairs of the provincial and territorial tire recycling agencies or senior staff representing provincial tire recycling programs.
Q9: Why would people choose to use synthetic turf anyway?
There are many reasons why synthetic turf is an ideal option. Some high-traffic fields like those found in sports arenas or school yards can experience difficulty growing or retaining natural grass so synthetic turf makes sense from both a time and cost standpoint. Maintenance is minimal as they don’t require watering or much upkeep, and as the rubber infill is made from recycled rubber tires, it’s a great alternate use for what was originally destined for the landfill.
Q10: Where can I go for more information?
Please visit CATRAonline.ca for more information and links to additional resources.