On Tuesday, November 3, ESPN’s investigative news magazine program E:60 aired a report on the potential deleterious effects of crumb rubber infill used in many artificial grass sports fields. The report, titled The Turf War, examined a growing body of evidence which seems to indicate that crumb rubber infill is linked to incidents of cancer, most often among soccer goalies.
“Crumb rubber is not a product used in artificial grass landscaping applications,” said Purchase Green co-founder Tony Vena. “And while conclusive evidence regarding the dangers of crumb rubber remains elusive, we applaud ESPN for airing the segment and we hope it sparks further conversation about crumb rubber.”
It is important that a distinction is made between crumb rubber and artificial grass – they are often treated as being synonymous when in fact they are quite different. The report focused crumb rubber as an artificial grass infill and not the artificial grass itself. There are many infill options. Crumb rubber is not recommended for artificial grass used in landscaping applications. Additionally the impact attenuation characteristics that drive the use of crumb rubber in sports fields can be achieved in other ways, such as with the use of a shock pad underlayment.
Crumb rubber infill is made by grinding up old tires. At first, the solution was praised as an innovative, environmentally-friendly strategy to reuse the mountains of old tires sitting in landfills. However, in recent years, anecdotal evidence has begun to shed light on a potential link between the infill and instances of cancer, especially among goalies who frequently come into contact or even ingest/inhale the tiny black pellets common to artificial grass sports fields across the country.
Purchase Green, along with the rest of the artificial grass industry, is waiting on conclusive data regarding the health impacts of crumb rubber infill. Until such time, the company’s policy will continue to be to offer alternative infill solutions, such as Purchase Green’s MellowFill – that are superior to crumb rubber for landscaping applications and, when used in conjunction with a shock pad, can be superior in sporting applications as well.
“Many people associate crumb rubber with artificial grass because often their first exposure to artificial grass comes via artificial grass sports fields,” said Vena. “We aim to change that and appreciate ESPN’s reporting on this matter. At Purchase Green we take pride in offering customers the best artificial grass products in the industry and we have always taken the position that crumb rubber is simply not the best infill solution for the vast majority of artificial grass applications.”