In recent years, recycled tires are being put to use for creating tire surface playgrounds. The United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) gave the stats that nearly 290 million scrap tires need to be disposed of every year with a good 28 million being recycled for different types of surfaces.
Recycling is a logical option as tire rubber seems less likely to injure kids when and if they fall. Recycling also reduces the landfills where space is limited and prevents the hazard of these disposed tires catching fire and releasing dangerous chemicals into the groundwater and air.
The recycled tires are used as:
- Rubber mulch or “crumb” (loose tire shred) on surfaces and it can be raked.
- A combination of binder and tire shreds that are poured onto a permanent surface
- Factory molded tiles from the binder/tire shred combo that are glued onto the playground surfaces.
Scientific studies raise safety concerns
Three laboratory studies were carried out in 2007 by the California OEHHA (Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) investigating possible risks to the health of children from these recycled tire surfaces. One study evaluated the level of chemicals like mercury, arsenic, and several hazardous hydrocarbons that could be harmful if children ate parts of the tires or put their hands in their mouth after touching the playground surface. The other two studies examined injuries from falls on recycled tire playground surfaces as opposed to wood chips, and if air or water could be contaminated by recycled tire shreds.
From these studies, it is seen that repeated or long-term exposure might be harmful to a child’s health.
The Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) conducted a study at Yale University in 2015. The report analyzed the chemicals found in five samples of tire crumbs from five different companies that install school athletic fields and nine different samples taken from nine different unopened bags of playground tire mulch.
96 chemicals were found in the samples. Of the chemicals examined in the studies, many were irritants (substances that cause a reaction from the body). 24% were respiratory irritants (can cause asthma symptoms); 37% were skin irritants, and 27% happened to be eye irritants. It was also found that 20% of the chemicals tested could probably be the cause of delayed cancer diagnosis.
What protection can you give your kids?
We must bear in mind that kids are more susceptible to being harmed by chemical exposure from the environment than adults as they are still developing. It is imperative that you greatly reduce or totally eliminate any contact that may occur with known and suspected harmful substances. Choose another playground in your area that doesn’t have a recycled rubber play surface.
More than ever before, you must emphasize and teach your children the importance of washing their hands after playing or touching anything that should not have been touched. All the agencies urge us, as parents, to make washing hands part of the norm.
In addition, if you find any type of tire debris or see any loose tire shreds on your child after playing at the playground, remove them from shoes and clothes before they enter the house.
Author Bio: Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina, you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach with her family. She loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness but often writes about families and safety.