Landfills all over the United States are filling up quickly, which has caused much of the nation to focus on recycling rather than throwing things away. One such item that is commonly recycled is vehicle tires that are often ground up and reused in everything from road construction projects to ground cover at local playgrounds. But even though this recycling effort keeps thousands of tires that could cause environmental harm out of landfills every year, some researchers believe they could still pose a risk to people's health.
Manufactured tires contain a number of chemicals that have been identified or are suspected of being carcinogenic, meaning they can cause cancer. But it's important to point out that not all tires contain the same chemicals, meaning it is up to recyclers to test the end product, such as tire crumbles which are used in played grounds and artificial turf, to make sure that it is not harmful to the public.
It's difficult to say though how often tire crumbles are tested, which means children on playgrounds and athletes on artificial turf fields may be coming into constant contact with harmful chemicals without even knowing it. There are already several cases of American soccer players who have been diagnosed with serious forms of cancer such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia.
Little research has been conducted nationwide on the potential risk to public health that tire crumbles may pose though. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which conducted a limited-scale study on tire crumbles, is hesitant to say for sure whether recycled tire surfaces pose a threat to people's health.
What can be said is that cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia can be disabling illnesses that may force a person to apply for disability benefits down the road. It's an application, some feel, wouldn't need to be filed if there was more research to explain the dangers of tire crumbles.
Sources: NBC News, "How Safe Is the Artificial Turf Your Child Plays On?" Hannah Rappleye, Oct. 8, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "The Use of Recycled Tire Materials on Playgrounds & Artificial Turf Fields," Accessed Oct. 16, 2014