Public concern is increasing over the safety of recycled rubber tire crumb used as infill for synthetic turf fields and playgrounds. There are currently between 12,000 and 13,000 synthetic turf fields in the United States, and millions of adults and children are estimated to use these fields every year. Critics caution that the use of these fields could be related to certain adverse health effects due to the potential exposure to chemicals in tire crumb rubber.

Although the research conducted so far does not appear to demonstrate an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb rubber, some questions remain unanswered. Thus, on February 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, launched a Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds to comprehensively study key environmental and health questions relating to human exposure to tire crumb rubber.

On December 30, 2016, the agencies released a preliminary report providing an overview of the tire crumb rubber manufacturing process and the public health issues of concern. The report summarizes the agencies’ actions to date, including their progress on research programs, and provides a final peer-reviewed Literature Review/Gaps Analysis. Next steps and a timeline for completion of the final report are also included.

Notably, because research is still ongoing, the status report does not include any preliminary findings. However, the federal agencies anticipate releasing a final report later this year.

Additionally, it is unknown how this investigation will be affected by the new presidential administration. Therefore, manufacturers, distributors, facility owners and their insurance companies should check back with us for updates on both changes in regulation and science as well as any case and/or litigation reports.

The full status report is available here.