The debate over whether shredded tyres are safe to use as surfacing in playgrounds is continuing in the US.
Last month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that is was going to take a fresh look at whether recycled tyres could present a hidden health threat.
Now Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has published internal documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the EPA that show the watchdog does not know the extent to which children may be exposed to the toxic chemicals that are used in the manufacture of tyres.
Every year hundreds of thousands of tyres are recycled into ground rubber which is used to reduce injuries from falls in playgrounds – not just in the US, but also in the UK and around the world.
But PEER is concerned about the lack of information on the potential toxicity of the material, claiming that hazardous materials such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and hydrocarbons are used in the production of the original tyres.
Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, said: “Kids roll around in this stuff, put it into their mouths and rub it into their skin and hair.”
He also pointed out that tyre crumbs are often painted in bright colours which are enticing to very young children.
Mr Ruch said: “Despite the growing concerns of its own scientists, EPA has issued no public statement of caution and still promotes tire crumbs in playgrounds.”
He added that the EPA had embraced a supposed ‘win-win’ solution for a solid waste problem without considering potential side effects.
The EPA is conducting its own field monitoring study, but admits that these limited tests could leave many questions unanswered.
Denna Bowman, Head Office