Use of Recyled rubber, plastics in playgrounds a safety issue

A recent alarm about the use of recycled tire materials in playgrounds and on soccer and other athletic fields has raised concerns for children who play on those surfaces everyday. Clemson University Civil Engineering professor Serji Amirkhanian says the results of a number of laboratory and field tests conducted in several states and in Europe on the recycled materials containing rubber and plastic indicate that the materials do not have an adverse affect on youngsters.Amirkhanian serves as Director of Clemson’s Asphalt Rubber Technology Service. He recently participated in an international conference in Buffalo, New York on the use of recycled rubber and plastic together. Amirkhanian says some researchers expressed concern about the possibility of chemicals leeching from the materials especially when dampened by rainfall.
“The findings indicated that really one of the few items that you get elevated levels of is zinc. However most of the reports if not all I know of indicated that the zinc levels even if it is elevated still is within EPA’s regulations and requirements.”
Amirkhanian says people are naturally concerned when an issue or product may directly affect children. Amirkhanian says what is needed is a comprehensive study that involves both industry and government that will settle the issue.
Amirkhanian says it is important to point out that a number of people will have allergic reactions to certain materials. “There are some people who are allergic to either latex, crumb rubber, or any other chemical that may be used in this product. Unfortunately some kids, or parents, or even dogs have some reaction to it. That is unfortunate, but at the same time some people are allergic to trees and grass too, but we don’t get rid of grass completely.”
Amirkhanian says safety should always be our main concern. As the father of four, Amirkhanian has no problem with his children playing in areas using the recycled materials.
“I would rather my kids play on this than anything else because it’s much much safer if they are going to fall. Now, it might smell a little bit during the summer like rubber, but I will take smell any day compared to if they fall on a concrete surface, asphalt, or sand.”

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