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EPA Fails to Protect Our Children From Shredded Tires on Playgrounds

EPA approves tire usage on playgrounds without significant studyMy mommy instincts told me playing on shredded tires was not good for my children’s health, but apparently the EPA lacks such intuition.  According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilty (PEER), the EPA has admitted it does not know “the extent of childhood exposure from ingestion or inhalation of an array of toxic chemicals found within tires”.

Documents obtained by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that –

  • EPA lacks the information to “assess toxicological risks of tire crumb in situations where children are exposed” but has recommended tire crumbs for public recreational use since 1991;
  • Agencies are issuing contradictory advice to consumers. In June 2008, for example, the Centers for Disease Control issued an advisory for potential lead exposure from artificial turf, while weeks later, CPSC issued a press release downplaying the lead risk based on very limited testing; and
  • EPA plans to conduct its first field monitoring studies but admits that these limited tests will leave many questions unanswered.

Meanwhile, millions of pounds of shredded tires are recycled to be used for cushioning on children’s playgrounds. Recycling is good, but not at the cost of our children’s health. To blankly endorse the use of shredded tires by the EPA and the CPSC without ever having “investigated the potential toxicity to children from direct contact with tire ingredients, such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and a number of dangerous hydrocarbons” is criminal in my opinion.  In fact, PEER accuses the EPA of “burying its head in the tire crumbs”.

Image:  syberartist on Flickr under a Creative Commons License


  1. My nephew actually burned his hands and knees when he fell down on the shredded tires at a local park — it was a bright day and the tire pieces had become very hot in the sun. I can’t believe parks are using this stuff!

  2. Patricia Taylor says:

    The CDC has issued a Health Advisory pertaining to synthetic turf. Parents should follow the recommendations outlined at http://www2a.cdc.gov/HAN/ArchiveSys/ViewMsgV.asp?AlertNum=00275.

    In addition, the state of Connecticut is in the middle of a year-long field and lab investigation of synthetic turf and crumb rubber infill. A Connecticut group called Environment and Human Health, Inc. has called for a moratorium on the installation of new fields while they are being studied. More information can be found at http://www.ehhi.org/turf.

    The EPA said in June it was going to issue preliminary findings of its own investigation. You can find the January 2008 EPA internal memo and PEER’s press release on the EPA concerns and investigation at http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1202.

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