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EPA Not Looking At Recycled Tires In Playgrounds

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:19 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Lead, Tire Mulch, Artificial Turf, Playground Dange, Tire Crumb, Arsenic, Children's Health

Kids should refrain from playing in playyards made with used tires until the EPA does an assessmenf for safety, an environmental group says.

Tire Crumb Controversy


IMAGE SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer Web site/ playing fields in New Jersey closed

Every year millions of pounds of tires are recycled into and placed on playgrounds to form a soft cushiony place for children to romp when they jump off the swing or land from a slide and a way to recycle old, used tires.

In fact, tire crumb, as it’s known, was added to the White House playground constructed for the Obama children.

So what’s the problem?

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists have raised serious concerns about the health risks associated with childhood exposure from ingested or inhaled toxic chemicals found within ground rubber.

Last May, EPA scientists strongly urged the agency to immediately “assess toxicological risks of tire crumb in situations where children are exposed.”

While the EPA and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have endorsed the use of tire crumb for playground use, scientists point to off-gases from tire ingredients including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and dangerous hydrocarbon.

What Is The Agency Doing?

The agency is not conducting safety studies on the potential health effects to children from tire crumb, even after its own scientists raised concerns, and even after it said it would have a report at the end of the summer, says an environmental watchdog group of local, state, and federal scientists that makes sure environmental laws are being enforced.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), has released the correspondence between the agency and the group. PEER sought clarification as to why the agency was not acting on the recommendations of its own scientists.

In a reply letter to PEER in July, an EPA spokesman said they hope to release study results later this summer.

But in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer the agency admitted that “the raw data shows there is no inhalation danger to children who play on various types of artificial fields and play surfaces.”

When PEER asked to see the raw data in another FOIA request, it was told, “The Agency has not conducted research to evaluate children's ‘health effects’ from tire crumb constituents.”

The “all clear” assessment was based on a literature review in 2008.

Tire Crumb

Tire crumb comes from automotive and truck scrap tires. The material is recycled and crumbled to be used in road construction, automobile parts, in athletic fields as a track material, in playing fields and playgrounds, and for landscaping mulch. Artificial turn needs no water and keeps down weeds and pests.

In 2008, New Jersey health officials found elevated levels of lead dust coming from pigment in artificial-turf fields. That led to the closing of Newark and Hoboken, fields.

Lead dust is not considered dangerous is small amounts, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued advisories to reduce exposure on playgrounds to young children.

Meanwhile, the EPA is slated to receive a 40 percent budget increase, bringing its budget to about $10 billion a year.

“If safeguarding children’s health is a top priority at EPA, why can’t this multi-billion dollar agency afford to take a hard look at what is in our playgrounds, schoolyards and athletic fields?” asked Ruch in a news release. “At a minimum, EPA should pull its endorsement tomorrow and issue a health advisory until it has answers.” #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by K Morgan
Thursday, November 05, 2009 3:52 PM EST

The reason they don't study it is because they don't CARE. Green means $$$$$...and so does sick kids.

Comments for this article are closed.

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