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ECHA study: recycled rubber infill risks ‘very low’

Europe – The risk to adults and children using artificial sports pitches comprising recycled rubber infill is ‘very low’, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has concluded. Based on an evaluation requested by the European Commission, the association believes the same applies to workers installing and maintaining such pitches.

‘Lifetime cancer risk is very low given the concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons typically measured in European sports grounds,’ the ECHA states. Furthermore, the risk posed by metals is ‘negligible’ given ‘the levels are below the limits allowed in the current toys legislation’, while no concerns were identified from phthalates, benzothiazole and methyl isobutyl ketone as the concentrations were deemed to be below those levels that would lead to health problems.

The ECHA’s findings are preliminary ‘and will be updated when new information becomes available’. At the BIR world recycling organisation’s tyres & rubber committee meeting in Amsterdam last October, it was reported that a TV programme had claimed the tyre-derived rubber granulate used in sports pitches to be carcinogenic.

In the USA, media stories connecting crumb rubber with cancer had played their part in a 30% decline in the market for this material over the previous two years, the same meeting was told by Robin Wiener, president of the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

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