Crumb rubber is a material made from recycled rubber from automotive and truck scrap tires. The recycling procedure involves removing any steel and tire cord and breaking the rubber pieces into smaller granulated particles.
Crumb rubber is typically used in:
- Astroturf for athletic games
- Material for athletic race tracks
- Children’s playgrounds
- Waterpark floor surface
- Landscaping and trails
There have been several injuries and safety problems associated with crumb rubber. First, there are concerns about toxic exposure through inhalation or ingestion of the crumb rubber particles during usage or play. This issue is compounded because tire rubber materials may vary from batch to batch or by the manufacturer.
Secondly, there are concerns about the increased chance of injury during the athletic use of crumb rubber, especially on astroturf surfaces. These have included increased risk of broken bones, sprains, twisted ankles, “turf burns,” and other injuries.
Other elements may also create increased toxic exposure and injury risks from crumb rubber, such as:
- Indoor use of crumb rubber (buildup of volatile organic compounds or VOCs in the area)
- Usage of crumb rubber outdoors in scorching temperatures
- Crumb rubber that is very aged or in need of replacement (can be corroding)
Who Can be Held Liable for Crumb Rubber Injuries?
Depending on the situation, various parties may be liable for crumb rubber injuries. In many circumstances, manufacturers or producers of crumb rubber can be held liable for damages caused by a defective crumb rubber product. This can involve toxic tort injuries and injuries resulting from sports or playground usage. For example, damaged or corroded crumb rubber can often present a trip hazard, particularly for children’s playgrounds.
In other circumstances, the owner or maintainer of the premises can be held accountable for injuries resulting from crumb rubber. These kinds of claims are generally based on negligence. They may require demonstrating that the premises owner knew or should have known of the hazards associated with the crumb rubber yet failed to take measures to make repairs or fix the risks.
Are There Any Legal Remedies for Crumb Rubber Injuries?
Crumb rubber injury claims may often need legal action to resolve. The legal remedy will normally involve a monetary damages award in such cases, which will often compensate the injured party for medical costs, hospital expenses, lost wages, and other expenditures.
In some instances, severe issues with crumb rubber may lead to more expansive measures, such as a product recall or stricter enforcement of industry standards. Also, some injury claims may need a class action filing to deliver legal relief for the affected consumers.
Additional Information on Crumb Rubber Dangers
Presently, claims exist that there is a connection between new athletic field turf and cancer. The new athletic turf that has been popping up all over the country for the past two decades is known as ‘field turf’ or ‘sprint turf’ and includes small rubber particles called butadiene rubber or “crumb rubber” – basically old tires and synthetic fibers.
There are currently 95 reported cancer cases among student-athletes who have played sports on synthetic turf fields (crumb rubber fields). Sixty-five of these cancer cases are soccer goalies (goalkeepers). The reported cancers are broken down as follows: 40 lymphomas, 16 leukemia, 7 brain cancer, 6 thyroid cancer, 7 sarcomas, and 3 testicular, the rest being rare forms of cancers.
Guidance for Communities Concerned About Playgrounds with Recycled Tire Surfaces
Communities, parents, and state and local officials are concerned about recycled tire materials used in playground surfacing.
The Child Interaction and Potential Exposure to Playground Surfacing Materials findings deliver a better understanding of potential exposures kids may encounter using recycled tire surfacing playgrounds. While this short-term study won’t deliver all the answers, the data will help answer some of the questions raised.
While the CPSC knows no specific chemical hazards from recycled tires in playground surfacing at this time, the following precautions to limit exposure are recommended:
Avoid mouth contact with playground surfacing materials, including mouthing, chewing, or swallowing playground rubber. This may pose a choking hazard, regardless of chemical exposure.
Avoid eating food or drinking beverages directly on playground surfaces, and wash hands before handling food.
Restrict the time at a playground on sweltering hot days. After visiting the playground, sanitize hands and other exposed skin areas, and consider changing clothes if evidence of tire materials (e.g., black marks or dust) is observable on fabrics.
Wash any toys used on a playground after the visit.
Communities, parents, and state and local officials are urged to research Federal Agency websites to check the study results on recycled rubber tires for playgrounds and artificial turf fields. In addition, concerned people can inspect their state’s public health agency websites to resolve if there are state-specific recommendations.
Is Crumb Rubber Mulch on Playgrounds Safe?
Safety is a primary concern when developing playgrounds for kids. One widespread material used when creating soft surface playgrounds for children’s safety is crumb rubber produced from shredded recycled tires, but this material may bring extra health hazards.
In a new student-led investigation, Texas A&M University School of Public Health doctoral student Leanne Fawkes and Environmental and Occupational Health Capstone students evaluated heavy metal exposure hazards in playgrounds around the Bryan-College Station area. The analysis estimated heavy metal concentrations in crumb rubber mulch and compared them against safety measures from the United States and European Union.
The research team gathered several samples of crumb rubber mulch from 16 parks in Bryan and College Station. They then examined those samples in the laboratory to measure heavy metals like lead, chromium, and zinc concentrations. Next, they incorporated the results for samples from each park to assemble average values and compared those values to existing safety standards. The research team selected research methods and safety standards similar to those utilized when testing toys for heavy metals in the United States and Europe.
The study detected 14 different heavy metals in the samples, four of which had concentrations too low to be approximated to safety guidelines. This left ten heavy metals for comparison; however, all ten were well within American and European safety policies. These results conform with previous studies of crumb rubber used in athletic fields and show that crumb rubber mulch use in playgrounds presents minimal risks offset by injury risk deduction.
Although heavy metal concentrations appear safe, the students reported elevated levels of lead, zinc, and selenium. Because of this, it is prudent to take a few measures to protect the health of kids who play on playgrounds that use crumb rubber. Hand-to-mouth and object-to-mouth exposure present the most significant threats, so guardians should try to keep kids from eating or drinking while sitting or lying on crumb rubber surfaces, and kids should wash their hands before eating or drinking. It may also be worthwhile to restrict kids’ time playing on worn surfaces as there may be a heightened danger of ingesting small pieces of crumb rubber.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Crumb Rubber Injury Case?
Crumb rubber injury lawsuits can be complex; you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need assistance with the legal process. Your attorney can provide you with guidance and research for your claim and represent you in court as needed.