Crumb rubber, also known as ground tire rubber, or GTR , is made from ground-up shredded tires. Here is a photo of the crumb rubber that was shaken out of a coach’s shoes after being on the field during one game. As a coach, not a player. The crumb rubber and artificial 'blades' are in a ~6-1/2-inch-wide baggie. This person coaches children, age about 11-13.
~6-1/2-inch-wide clear plastic bag containing 1. crumb rubber (the small black objects that are scattered to the right and left within the bag); and 2. artificial 'grass blades' stitched together and held together by a black strip of artificial material, in the center of the bag
Remember how I told you that the artificial turf industry worked so hard, and paid lobbyists tens of thousands of dollars to make sure artificial turf is not categorized as a ‘children’s product?’ This is why. Because any amount of lead is dangerous. And if a product is classified by the U.S. government as a ‘child’s product,’ it must be tested and its lead level revealed. Gee, why wouldn’t manufacturers of such a safe product want their product tested? Hmm…maybe because it’s not so safe after all.
So, here goes folks, in another of those discussions about, what is it made of really?
According to a private manufacturer of tire shredders,
“Crumb Rubber is the name given to any material resulting from granulating scrap tires or other rubber into uniform granules with the steel, fiber, dust, glass, and rock removed.FieldTurfTarkett states on its website that the method used by their shredders is cryogenic.
Crumb rubber production is accomplished by grinding techniques generally known as ambient or cryogenic. Ambient means grinding at room temperature. Cryogenic means grinding at very low temperatures. Other methods exist such as proprietary wet-grinding.”
Shredded scrap tire is placed in liquid nitrogen and is frozen and becomes brittle. Next, it is shattered and sorted by size. And voila! 'cryogenic' crumb rubber.
And here's what the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has to say about artificial turf and crumb rubber. Oh, and lead. (bold color text my own)
Q: What chemicals can be found in the synthetic turf crumb rubber?
A: The crumb rubber used in synthetic turf is mainly composed of recycled tires, which contain man-made and natural rubber. Based on the review of research studies and reports, certain chemicals have been identified in crumb rubber. These include small amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals such as zinc, iron, manganese and lead.
Q: Can people be exposed to the chemicals found in crumb rubber?
A: Although the potential for significant exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber is very low, there are three possible ways for people to have contact with these chemicals on artificial turf fields:
Accidentally ingesting small amounts of crumb rubber by putting fingers in the mouth or not washing hands before eating after playing on the fields.
Breathing in dust and vapors while playing on the fields. Crumb rubber may become dust as it wears and the rubber may give off some vapors.
Direct skin contact with the crumb rubber.
But not to worry, folks! Our elected officials at the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public School Board of Education, led by Shirley Brandman; and Phil Andrews, Valerie Ervin and the other county council members who enthusiastically voted 'YES!' when it comes to having your children play on these artificial fields, aren't worried, so why should you be? Just remember to make sure your child follows the simple directions as above:
- Don't breath.
- Don't have skin contact with the field.
- Always wash hands after you play on the fields, before you eat.
How much crumb rubber is in a football field? This link helps you figure out how many pounds of crumb rubber you need for a football field. Try it! It's fun! Unfortunately there is no comparable site out there that tells you how many pounds will be washed into the Chesapeake Bay. Too bad.