The below opinion is that of the writer and does not represent the opinion and views of Canaiden LLC, its associates and entities.
Why is it when PCBs are found in a school, the school is closed while they remove it? No one says - we know it is a carcinogen but we do not know whether the children will be exposed at a level that will harm them. Instead, the carcinogen is removed before the children return.
Why is it when asbestos is found in a school, the school is closed while they remove it? No one says - we know it is a carcinogen but we do not know whether the children will be exposed at a level that will harm them. Instead, the carcinogen is removed before the children return.
Why is it then when shredded rubber tires that contain many carcinogens are put in school playgrounds and athletic fields - many health departments say, "yes, there are carcinogens in the product, but we do not think the children will be exposed at a level that will harm them." In these cases the carcinogens are allowed and not removed.
That is what is happening with rubber tire infill and rubber tire playground mulch that is put in school playgrounds and synthetic turf fields all over the country - while health departments and government agencies turn a blind eye to what is happening to a whole generation of children and athletes who are being exposed to numerous carcinogens, not just one, as with PCBs and asbestos.
The question must be asked - how has this happened?
The following is a summary of findings of chemical analysis conducted by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies of crumb rubber tire infill used in synthetic turf and rubber tire mulch used as surfacing material in toddler playgrounds.
The shredded rubber tire playground mulch samples tested were provided by the manufacturer and were purchased in new bags of rubber mulch for use in gardens and playgrounds. The rubber tire infill for synthetic turf fields was obtained as new infill material from installers of synthetic turf fields. There were five samples of infill from five different installers of fields and nine different samples of rubber mulch taken from nine different unopened bags of playground mulch.
1. 96 chemicals found in 14 samples analyzed. Each sample represented either a different synthetic field supplier or a different unopened bag of rubber playground mulch.
2. Of the 96 chemicals detected, 47 (49 percent) had no toxicity assessments done on them for their health effects.
3. Of the 96 chemicals detected, 49 (51 percent) have had some toxicity testing done, but even many of those had incomplete toxicity testing and therefore all health effects are not fully known.
4. Of the 49 chemicals that have been tested, 10 (20 percent) are probable carcinogens.
5. Of the 49 chemicals that have been tested, 19 (40 percent) are irritants.
Specifically, of the 40 percent of the chemicals that have been tested and are known to be irritants:
1. 12 (24 percent) are respiratory irritants; some causing asthma symptoms.
2. 18 (37 percent) can cause skin irritations.
3. 13 (27 percent) can cause eye irritations.
Chemicals are usually assessed for their toxicity one chemical at a time. Synergistic affects of being exposed to numerous chemicals at the same time is not known. From the data of this new study, it is reasonable to assume that persons playing on synthetic turf fields with rubber tire infill or toddler playgrounds surfaced with rubber tire mulch are being exposed concurrently to multiple chemicals.
This study did not analyze for carbon black that makes up to 30 percent of each tire, nor did it analyze the carbon black nanoparticles or the nanotubes that are now used in the manufacture of many tires. These three additional substances add to the toxicity of the shredded rubber tires that our toddlers, children, students and athletes now play on.
It is time to remove the toxic rubber mulch in toddler playgrounds and to stop installing synthetic turf fields.
Nancy Alderman, President
Environment and Human Health, Inc.