Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds

Background

Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled tire crumb used in playing fields and playgrounds in the United States. Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.

Federal Research

Because of the need for additional information, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched a multi-agency action plan to study key environmental human health questions. This coordinated federal action includes outreach to key stakeholders, such as athletes and parents, and seeks to fill important data and knowledge gaps, characterize constituents of recycled tire crumb, and identify ways in which people may be exposed to tire crumb based on their activities on the fields. The Federal Research Action Plan includes numerous activities, including research studies. While additional research questions may require evaluation beyond this year, the information will help answer some of the key questions that have been raised.

Objectives

The specific objectives of this research effort are to:

  • Determine key knowledge gaps.
  • Identify and characterize chemical compounds found in tire crumb used in artificial turf fields and playgrounds.
  • Characterize exposures, or how people are exposed to these chemical compounds based on their activities on the fields.
  • Identify follow-up activities that could be conducted to provide additional insights about potential risks.

Status

The collection and analysis of samples for the exposure and tire crumb characterization parts of the study are now complete. EPA and CDC/ATSDR drafted the report which is now undergoing technical peer review.

For the tire crumb characterization part of the study, tire crumb samples were gathered from tire crumb manufacturing/recycling plants and from indoor and outdoor fields across the country. Samples were gathered from nine tire crumb manufacturing/recycling plants and 40 fields.

For the exposure characterization part of the study, on August 2, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the Information Collection Request for the continuation of the exposure characterization study. With the OMB approval, the EPA and CDC/ATSDR team were able to complete the field work associated with the exposure characterization in the Fall of 2017. During the exposure characterization field work, EPA and CDC/ATSDR visited several fields to collect exposure information to better characterize people’s exposure to tire crumbs. Activity information from field users who elected to participate in the study was also gathered.

Prior to the August 2017 OMB approval, the exposure characterization portion of the study as outlined in the Federal Research Action Plan was posted for public comment in February 2017. An additional requirement of a 30-day Federal Register Notice, along with the Information Collection Request package was published on June 12, 2017 .

On December 30, 2016, the agencies released a status report describing the progress of the research to date. The status report includes the final peer-reviewed Literature Review/Gaps Analysis report and describes the progress to date on other research activities that are part of the effort including: Characterization of the chemicals found in tire crumb; Characterization of the exposure scenarios for those who use turf fields containing tire crumb; Study to better understand how children use playgrounds containing tire crumb and; Outreach to key stakeholders. The status report does not include research findings.

While this effort won’t provide all the answers about whether synthetic turf fields are safe, it represents the first time that such a large study is being conducted across the U.S. The study will provide a better understanding of potential exposures that athletes and others may experience and will help answer some of the key questions that have been raised.

Timeline

The draft report on the Federal Research Action Pan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds (FRAP) was sent for external peer-review in May 2018.  The US EPA and CDC/ATSDR are currently working to address peer review comments.  The Agencies plan to release the report in two parts.  The first part summarizing the Tire Crumb Rubber Characterization Study will be released for public comment in early 2019.  Currently, CDC/ATSDR is initiating a biomonitoring study to investigate potential exposure to constituents in tire crumb rubber infill.  The information from the biomonitoring study will be released for public comment, along with information collected as part of the FRAP Exposure Characterization Study, at a later date.  The timeline and information about the study is and will continue to be posted to this website.

With respect to the biomonitoring study, CDC/ATSDR has posted a 30-day Federal Register Notice inviting comment on the information collection request, “Exposure Characterization and Measurements during Activities Conducted on Synthetic Turf Fields with Tire Crumb Rubber Infillexternal icon.”

Documents and Sources of More Information

Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds Status Reportexternal icon

On Friday, December 30, 2016 the CDC/ATSDR, EPA, and CPSC released a status reportexternal icon describing the progress of their research to date.

The status report includes the final peer-reviewed Literature Review and Data Gaps Analysis report and describes the progress to date on other research activities that are part of the effort including:

  • Characterization of the chemicals and materials found in tire crumbs.
  • Characterization of the exposure scenarios for those who use turf fields containing tire crumbs.
  • Study to better understand how children use playgrounds containing tire crumbs.
  • Outreach to key stakeholders including states, relevant federal agencies, international government agencies, non-governmental organizations, industry, field users and others that have researched tire crumb or have research underway and/or that can provide expertise to inform the federal study

 

NEW! Documents from EPA

Main website
https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/federal-research-recycled-tire-crumb-used-playing-fieldsexternal icon

Report Documents website
https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/july-2019-report-tire-crumb-rubber-characterization-0external icon

Q&As website
https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/tire-crumb-questions-and-answersexternal icon

Public Webinar Announcement
https://www.epa.gov/research/epa-tools-and-resources-webinar-recycled-tire-crumb-researchexternal icon

 

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Page last reviewed: July 25, 2019