What is Tire Crumb?
Tire crumb rubber is recycled tires and tire material. When tires from cars, trucks, and other vehicles are worn out, damaged, or replaced, tires are recycled and can be used again for construction, new rubber products, or infill (filling) material in playgrounds and sports surfacing. In playgrounds and synthetic turf fields, tire crumb rubber provides cushioning and firmness to the surface.
Synthetic turf fields are installed for all kinds of sports activities played at both the recreational and professional level. As of 2016, it has been estimated that there are between 12,000 to 13,000 synthetic turf fields in the United States. Synthetic turf fields are installed at municipal and county parks, schools and colleges, professional team stadiums and practice fields, and military installations. They are used by professional and college athletes, youth athletes in school and/or other athletic organizations, adult and youth recreational users, coaches, teams, and facility staff.
About 95% of existing synthetic fields in North America are created using only tire crumb rubber infill, or as a mixture with sand or alternative other materials.
Different types of chemicals are involved during the tire manufacturing process, and so there could be the potential for people to be exposed to these chemicals from the synthetic turf fields and playgrounds that use tire crumb rubber infill.
There have been a limited number of research studies evaluating the health risks of playing on synthetic turf fields and playgrounds made with tire crumb rubber. These studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on synthetic turf fields and playgrounds with tire crumb rubber. However, the existing research is limited and does not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about potential health risks from exposure to tire crumb rubber.
Scientists and researchers are working to learn more about exposure to tire crumb rubber. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched a multi-agency action plan, known as the Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds (FRAP) to conduct studies to learn more about tire crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields and playgrounds. Learn more about the FRAP.