Rubber granulate from end-of-life tyres is used in various applications where it is exposed to the public. Best known is infill in artificial turf pitches. In recent years, there has been quite an extensive media coverage of rubber infill – especially with focus on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their potential carcinogenic effects.
Numerous scientific studies have addressed this issue; and globally, more than 70 studies based on experimental data have been carried through, concluding that there is no significant or scientifically justified risk associated with the use of rubber granulate made from end-of-life tyres.
In 2015, honouring the ”precautionary principle” of the EU Treaty, stating that any suspected risk raised must be investigated, the European Commission initiated yet another study. This study was to be prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which is the body responsible for the regulation of chemicals and the safe use of these within the EU.
ECHA published its evaluation in February 2017, finding no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules as infill. ECHA concludes that “there is, at most, a very low level of concern from exposure to recycled rubber granules”. Follow the link below to download the ECHA report in full.
ECHA Evaluation of the Possible Health Risks of Recycled Rubber Granules used as Infill in Synthetic Turf Sports Fields
Current regulations within the EU
Rubber granulate is defined as a mixture, meaning that it must comply with articles 28-30 of Annex XVII of the (EU) 1907/2006 REACH regulation and the concentration limits for PAHs specified in Annexes I and VI to the CLP regulation (EU) 1272/2008. The concentration for each of the eight specified PAHs may not exceed the following limits: 100 mg/kg for Benzo[a]pyren and Dibenz[a,h]anthracen and 1,000 mg/kg for the other six PAHs respectively.
Genan has measured the PAH content in granulate samples for years, and levels never exceed 5 mg/kg for any of the specified PAHs – which is way below the concentration limit. The concentration of PAHs is constantly decreasing over time, as new tyres marketed in the EU must comply with Annex XVII to REACH, entry 50.1.
Source of rubber is important
All Genan granulate is guaranteed to be made with end-of-life tyres as source material. In Europe, Genan does not process tyres from sources outside the EU, ensuring Genan infill to be in compliance with the REACH regulation. However, there may be other infill products sold in the market, which are based on scrap rubber feedstock from other sources than ELTs.
An important issue for decision-makers should thus be to choose a supplier of rubber infill, who is able to document that their intake sources are suppliers of end-of-life tyre input only.