EPA Questions Safety of Playground Turf

January 23, 2014- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its website in response to a complaint that its public information on artificial turf made from old tires understated concerns about safety.

Recycled tire parts, sometimes called "tire crumb,” are used to make pliant surfaces for playgrounds, tracks and playing fields. There are concerns that the tires contain lead and other harmful chemicals, putting children who play on turf at risk.

In a November 2009 study, the EPA stated there was only a "low level of concern" about potential health risks posed by toxic chemicals in tire crumb. But earlier this year, the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility accused the agency of downplaying potential health concerns and asked it to rescind the findings. The EPA study involved only a few sites, PEER said in its complain, making it "inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable."

PEER announced recently that the EPA had agreed to add a disclaimer to its original press release, noting that it is "outdated," and redirect visitors to a different site that more accurately reflects the science on tire crumb. The newer website also emphasizes the need for "future studies," and lists hazardous chemicals that could be present in tire crumb -- including arsenic, benzene, mercury and lead.

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