The European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA) has launched a campaign to refute ‘allegations’ about the impact of tyre rubber granulate used in sports fields. In recent years, it says, ‘unfounded claims’ have been made that recycled tyre rubber can harm those coming into contact with it while playing sports – in particular, those in goalkeeping roles. However, despite two decades of research into the subject funded by industry, governments and public interest groups, “there is no empirical research that links tyre rubber to cancer”, ETRA asserts.
The US Environmental Protection Agency lists some 41 independent projects, none of which have discovered ‘any harmful effects’ from using tyre rubber in sports fields, it is noted. The Synthetic Turf Association lists a further 10 such reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ cites over 50 studies on the issue.
According to ETRA’s Dr Ettore Musacchi, comparative testing by the City of Turin in Italy has showed ‘no significant difference’ between the levels of potential contaminants from sports fields and those sampled in the local urban area or on streets with heavy traffic. Given that some 39% of recycled tyre rubber goes into sports surfaces (bonded, moulded or loose, as well as infill), negative publicity is ‘incredibly damaging’ to the tyre recycling sector, says ETRA.
The tyre recyclers’ body warns this could create “a crisis in waste tyre management as Europe already has an oversupply of tyre-derived stock and relies on exporting its waste to India and other markets in order to prevent stockpiling in Europe”.