Recycled tires are often shredded for use in a variety of consumer-related products. The rubber so used may contain a number of compounds known to be deleterious to human and environmental health. We obtained nine samples of shredded tire material sold over the counter to the general public for home use, as well as six samples used for infill in synthetic turf athletic fields. After thorough cleaning and grinding, samples were extracted with either organic solvent (dichloromethane), strong acid, or simulated acid rain, or allowed to degas passively. Compounds released by these multiple methods were then identified, and in some cases quantified. Solvent extraction yielded 92 separate compounds, of which only about half have been tested for human health effects. Of these, nine are known carcinogens and another 20 are recognized irritants, including respiratory irritants that may complicate asthma. Strong acid extraction released measurable amounts of Pb and Cd and relatively large amounts of Zn. These three metals were specifically targeted for analysis, and others may be present as well, but were unmeasured. Simulated acid rain extracted only Zn in significant quantities. Passive volatilization yielded detectable amounts of 11 compounds. Results demonstrate that recycled tire materials contain and can release a wide variety of substances known to be toxic, and caution would argue against their use where human exposure is likely.
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We gratefully acknowledge the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for support of SD and the Lattner Family Foundation for funding the research.
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Benoit, G., Demars, S. Evaluation of Organic and Inorganic Compounds Extractable by Multiple Methods from Commercially Available Crumb Rubber Mulch. Water Air Soil Pollut 229, 64 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-018-3711-7
- Crumb rubber
- Shredded rubber
- Artificial turf