Tyre recyclers have rejected concerns about potential health problems associated with the use of artificial 3G sports pitches.
Scotland’s Daily Record recently reported that a professor identified cancer-causing chemicals in samples of rubber crumb from the pitches. In the US, there have been reports linking such pitches to cancer in 168 footballers, blaming polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
The crumb, spread on pitches to improve their bounce, makes up a “useful proportion” of the recycled tyre market, according to its trade body, the Tyre Recovery Association.
Secretary general Peter Taylor described the link between the crumb and health concerns as a “myth”, and said there were differences in the product sold in Europe and the US, where the EU regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals (REACH) does not apply.
“If these ideas take hold, they damage manufacturing interests right across Europe, he said. ”Quite a bit of recycled tyre material goes to these pitches, especially in Italy and Germany. It certainly does not account for the majority but a useful proportion of the tonnage.”
The European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) maintains that several scientific studies show the presence of PAH impurities in crumb rubber was not a health worry.
An information note published by ETRMA quoted several studies that found no threat from direct contact or inhalation of chemicals by exposure to the material. But the organisation said it was aware of US concerns about the use of the material in pitches.
“ETRMA and its members will be closely following the studies conducted by California authorities and a newly launched study to be conducted at the federal level in the US,” it said.
The European Commission has mandated the European Chemicals Agency to conduct a risk assessment of the presence of PAH in rubber crumb, which ETRMA supports.