European Union Considers New Limit on PAHs in Crumb Rubber
A proposal (PDF) under review by the European Chemicals Agency would introduce a lower concentration limit for eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in crumb rubber, a material used as filler for synthetic soccer fields. According to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which prepared the proposal, the current concentration limits under the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation are not sufficient to protect individuals who are exposed to crumb rubber at sports facilities and playgrounds. Crumb rubber, a granulated material made from recycled automobile tires, is a common shock-absorbing surface for synthetic fields and playgrounds. PAHs are present at low levels in crumb rubber. The Dutch proposal targets eight PAHs that the EU presumes to have carcinogenic potential in humans.  Currently, the EU defines crumb rubber as a chemical mixture. Under REACH, concentration limits for the eight PAHs in mixtures range from 100 mg/kg to 1,000 mg/kg. The Dutch proposal would limit PAH concentrations in crumb rubber to 17 mg/kg, a value closer to the REACH concentration limits for PAHs in toys. If the EU adopts the Dutch proposal, the new limit would go into effect in 2020. In 2017, ECHA determined that PAHs in crumb rubber presented a very low level of concern for health effects in children, professional athletes, and workers who install and maintain synthetic fields. But ECHA also concluded that further investigation was warranted due to uncertainties in the available studies. More information is available from the ECHA website in a news release and on a topic page.