The newly-laid  “crumb-rubber” surface – dyed green and blue at Plassey Square children’s play area. Cllr Clive Williams is demanding an immediate halt to laying any further such surfaces because of possible health risks.

Vale of Glamorgan Councillor Clive Williams (Independent Plymouth Ward) is demanding an immediate halt to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s schemes to lay controversial rubber surfaces made of recycled car-tyres on children’s playgrounds in Penarth.

With just that 7 weeks to go before the council elections in May  the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council had embarked on a last-minute series of so-called “upgrades” of children’s playgrounds in Penarth.

The black underside of the playground surface is made of “crumbs” recycled car tyres. Workers wear protective gloves to handle it.

However it emerged last week [ see PDN http://tinyurl.com/zxmu6nc%5D  that the “upgraded” playgrounds are being surfaced with dyed “rubber crumbs” – mostly derived from recycled car tyres .

In the USA scientists are now questioning the wisdom of using this material on sports grounds and children’s playgrounds because car tyres contain a range of chemicals which, they say, could constitute a danger to human health – particularly to children.

Cllr Clive Williams (Independent Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Williams says “The reconstituted rubber surfaces to be used in our children’s play areas is potentially extremely harmful according to very detailed research from a number of organizations throughout America, due to the chemicals in the bonding agents and the chemicals used in the original tyre production.”

He says “Dutch research states the “sprinkling ” of rubber crumbs on to artificial grass is harmful. Holland has ordered that many such sports fields are to be ripped up. The European Union research states this material is suitable for sports fields.  – This is ludicrous because  this product has not been out that long. They cannot say positively what the  long-term results are.”

The prospect of the Vale Council being taken to court has also been raised by Cllr Williams. He says  ” If tyre crumbs being sprinkled over artificial grass is deemed worthy of replacing, how much more harmful is this product in a concentrated area?     I know who I would rather believe. In my professional career, I know under Health and Safety law if  you are aware of an operative using a tool, you know as being suspect, you are liable to prosecution under the law.”

The new children’s playground at Plassey Square is surfaced with crumb rubber partly derived from recycled car-tyres

In his statement  Cllr Williams says “I will therefore be shirking my responsibility to residents if  I did not  demand the Vale council stops work immediately and no reconstituted rubber is used at the play area  at Cliff Walk or Old Pens.   We must err on the side of caution for our children’s sake.”  [ PDN Note: The children’s play area at Plassey Square – pictured above –  has already been completed and the rubber-crumb surface has been laid]  

Cllr Williams says that this is such an important issue, local residents “must stand up and take action” . He also appeals for professional experts in the field to come forward with their comments and advice.

It’s now emerged that the Labour controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council was fully aware of the concerns over the safety of “crumb-rubber” surfaces back in December.

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

On December 14th Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) asked the Vale ‘cabinet’ member for Leisure Services, Cllr Gwyn John about a series of newspaper articles indicating safety concerns about the use of  rubber crumb surfaces.

Cllr Gwyn John Vale of Glamorgan Council ‘cabinet’ member for Leisure

Cllr John replied :- “This Administration is justifiably proud of its record in promoting sport and developing all -weather sporting facilities and we take the health and safety of our customers very seriously. We are aware of these reports and our officers are in contact with officials of both Sport Wales and the Football Association for Wales (FAW).”

At the present time I can confirm that there is no evidence of a proven link between the rubber crumb used for 3G pitches and cancer. Sport Wales has stated that the most up-to-date guidance issued by both FIFA and UEFA refutes any claims of a link and considers them to be false. We will obviously continue to monitor the situation but at present no further action is being taken”

The Vale Council then went ahead with its programme of “upgrading” children’s play areas in Penarth with rubber crumb surfaces. The play area at Plassey Square has just been completed – with a new rubber-crumb made from shredded used car-tyres.

It’s not known whether the Vale Council ever mentioned any concerns about the health risks of rubber-crumb playground surfaces in any of its “consultation sessions”  with local parents.


About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    A surface that blends in with the natural environment would be better.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Cheapest but worst option- The attraction for the Vale must surely be that Rubber lasts up to TEN times longer than environmentally friendly sustainable Bark. Who says so? The Tyre Industry of course
      ROSPA The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents do not give a rating on the “impact attenuation” of “tyre crumbs” when comparing the benchmark EN1176/EN1177alternatives on their Website neither does Industry equipment leading manufacturer Wicksteed.
      . Elsewhere it is of course claimed to be “as safe as Bark” by the Rubber Industry
      The initial cost including laying about the same. £100 per cubic metre.
      The saving is derisory and trivial over time and teaches children nothing whatsoever about preserving their natural environment.

  2. JTR69 says:

    It is better than having a cracked skull.

    • M.T. says:

      That green stuff,what’s it called?Grass?That’s good for stopping that too!

    • Seth says:

      But not better than developing cancer JTR69.
      Flabbergasted at the flippant response to this issue.
      Asbestos anyone? Cigarettes? Are you the same people who blithely persist with something when warned it may damage your health?

      • JTR69 says:

        Seth, there is no evidence and the product is EU approved. Have you not considered that fact that Cllr Williams is creating a faux problem that only he can resolve ? Not convinced.

      • Matt says:

        JTR69. It may be approved by the European Union but it is not elsewhere. In addition, the EU has many question marks hanging over its attitude to various chemicals etc – I suspect the future will continue to see many of their directives change on the quiet. (It took the UK some time to admit asbestos needed to be banned and in the meantime, many were subjected to it…)
        Why do you think “EU approved” is not enough for others – and I don’t mean Cllr Williams? When you say there is “no evidence”, why are you ignoring the questions raised in the USA and Holland, so convincingly that they are stopping the use of rubber infill or ripping it up?
        Have they listened to Clive Williams? Or other sources of information?
        I can’t think why people are using the argument that “Cllr Williams is creating a faux problem” to counteract increasing concerns in other parts of the world. It seems so crass. Why are the concerns of other countries/experts being dismissed by people so eager to think it’s actually all the fault of Cllr Williams”?
        I’m not in the least concerned with his motives. I’m looking at the wider picture – beyond the boundaries of “EU approved”.

  3. Clive says:

    It is likely that continued exposure to weather will mitigate this risk – the risk of head injury is much more established

    • Bethan says:

      Do you speak as an authority? Actually, “experts” warn this surface is likely to be at its most toxic in warm weather.

  4. RetailGuru says:

    Storm in a teacup and stinks of Mr Williams creating an issue to gain votes from parents. The experts have spoken and have declared NO link between this surface and health issues. Go and fight some real issues please.

    • Howard says:

      What experts exactly have spoken? And why aren’t they good enough for the USA and Holland where surfaces are being ripped up? Look at what other “experts” say – that the effect of this controversial surface on children is unknown. How you can speak with such authority is beyond me. Go and do some real research please.

  5. M.T. says:

    The 1st picture has the comment “Workers wear protective gloves to handle it” The gloves shown are obviously to protect the workers from chemical not abrasive damage?

  6. Bullied says:

    Grass and woodchips are cheaper natural products and pose no risks to our children. The VoG council should have no end of wood chips with all the tree felling they indulge in. There are so many nuisance tyres to get rid of, so shred them up and sell them to gullible councils along with silly plastic flower pots that need poles, lol! No expense spared pre election.

  7. Monty says:

    This seems so typical of many issues. We live in the age of the Google expert who can find a piece of “research” to support anything. The earth is flat isn’t it? I’ve found research that proves it. We’ve got a lovely new play area, the design of which may offend some, but I’m sure the kids will love it. Let’s not allow cynicism and scaremongering to spoil it. Children have survived and thrived in far more hazardous circumstances.

    • Ffion says:

      Yes, Monty, when research queried asbestos, people like you pooh-poohed it and the stuff carried on in circulation for many years – too late for some.
      This stuff is clearly questionable – and if there are any doubts at all, I am amazed people are so cavalier about exposing children to it.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      Where? Fukushima? The dangers of asbestos were ignored for many years, dismissed as scaremongering until it was too late for many. Now “crumb-rubber” maybe the new asbestos, we should not ignore it. Cllr Williams is quite right to raise concerns that must be addressed.

  8. Anna says:

    Are people here such know-alls that they dismiss the reactions of world leaders in health issues?
    So, recommendations in the US NOT to lay more rubber infill, the Dutch are ripping it up (at some expense) but no, the PDN posters have spoken and, on their say-so, rubber infill is safe to use.
    Reminds me very much of other health issues like tanning, where the clever dicks know best.
    This is an insidious substance. If Monty will allow anyone, “google” the link between goal keepers on rubber infill and blood cancers. Then see if you’re such smart alecs.
    Shocked at the sneering on here of such an important issue but then I suppose it’s up to you which google result you believe isn’t it? Some say it’s safe, some don’t.
    Why – not least when it young children – are people so quick to believe it’s safe?
    Very strange and worrying. Remember to leave any asbestos in your home – it’s only scaremongering after all and you know best.

  9. snoggerdog says:

    children & adults dont need to go to a play area,for hazardous materials,they are up & down every vehicle strewn street, dust & particles from tyres & exhaust fumes everywhere. the room is getting smaller & the elephant is turning into an s.u.v. .

  10. M davies says:

    The place to go for expert opinion on all aspects of children’s play is PLAY WALES which is in Cardiff Bay. They have access to expert advice and information tel 20486050.

  11. Jessica says:

    The rubber crumb used in these areas is NOT dyed rubber, it is a fully NEW manufactured rubber, the crumb is coloured throughout and not toxic, the gloves are for the glue that its mixed with, would you work with glue without gloves on… dont be so naive, another councillor trying to scare the public into voting for them, this whole story is pathetic.

    • Becky says:

      Why are you going on about dyed rubber??? Nobody has mentioned the dye. How do you state so assuredly that the colour is not toxic? Any colour built to last in all-weather conditions will contain some pretty serious ingredients. Do you know what’s in the dye – seeing as you’ve brought it up?
      What is pathetic is people trying to ignore the potential hazards of rubber infill.

    • Ffion says:

      What is PATHETIC is people trying to pretend rubber infill is the healthiest thing since sliced bread. What is the matter with you? Rubber infill, dye or no dye, is potentially hazardous – especially to children. How are you managing to ignore the increasing amount of research into this subject – pushed by concern about rubber infill???
      I take it you’re aware of the carcinogenic chemicals involved in the rubber manufacturing industry.
      You take your kids there. I’ll take mine elsewhere thanks.

    • Simon says:

      Interesting use of the word “story”, Jessica. May I ask if you speak as a concerned citizen or as a journalist turned spin doctor? 🙂

  12. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    They used to spray the parks with toxic pesticides until they realised

  13. Emma says:

    There are clearly concerns about the safety of rubber infill, especially for young children. If this was a toy, it would have been withdrawn from sale and rightly so. Any element of doubt and it should not be imposed on young lives. People talking over the extensive research – choosing to believe an alternative view as though they are well-informed – should be as ashamed of themselves as the asbestos gainsayers. Enough said.

  14. Tim Hughes says:

    Where do the PDN readers think the tread wearing from their car tyres go to? Some is washed down the drains but some is small enough to be become airborne and this material is far more dangerous in your lungs than under the soles of you feet. I am no expert but I think that crumbled tyres under a covering under my grandchildren’s feet is not their greatrest risk. This is one of the good reasons for having 20mph limits in urban areas not only are their bones safer but also their lungs!

    • Matt says:

      You could have used lots of similar arguments with asbestos, Tim Hughes.
      I’ve never understood the argument which offers alternative causes of harm – especially to children’s health – so to heck with it, let’s jump in with both feet.
      Surely, with the cumulative threat in mind, it is better to withdraw those we know about – and are able to – instead of foisting them on the young.
      I wonder if PDN readers might get in touch with the authorities in the USA and Holland and inform them rubber infill is perfectly safe and they are wasting their time and money taking it up.
      If you’d all been around when asbestos was first questioned, I imagine we might still have been smugly unaware of its deadly properties.

      • Tim Hughes says:

        Everyday we all make life decisions. Do we buy organic food, do we buy the top of the range Volvo (because of crash tests), do we take our kids to the park, do we travel in desiel vehicles? When we make choices we balance risk, we all do it all the time.
        Asbestos is an airbourne killer which is fine when left understurbed. Many many buildings still have asbestos in them, Should we continue to use them? Perhaps your world is different to mine but I will not criticise you as I do not know you.

      • Anna says:

        I think asking if we should still use buildings which have asbestos in situ is a rather different issue to knowingly laying down new rubber infill in a children’s playground when there are clearly concerns about its link with blood cancers etc. It’s not as though there aren’t other surfaces which could be used. I would say this situation is less about “balancing risk” – as you call it – and more about ignoring questions other countries seem to be (increasingly) asking and acting on.

      • Tim Hughes says:

        20 Dec 2016 – “THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch government public health organization said Tuesday it is safe to play soccer and other sports on artificial turf fields covered in rubber crumbs, following an investigation triggered by fears over dangerous chemicals in the granules.

        The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment published a report saying that the health risk from playing on such fields, which are common throughout the Netherlands and elsewhere as low-maintenance alternatives to natural grass, is “virtually negligible.”

        The EPA in the USA is part way through a comprehensive study of the risks. “Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled rubber tire crumb used in synthetic turf fields and playgrounds in the United States. We know people are concerned and players and their families want answers. Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb. We are committed to supporting more comprehensive efforts to assess risks from tire crumb.”

  15. George says:

    The heat is being turned up on the health issues between artificial turf and cancer.

    A professor at the University of Stirling says he has identified cancer-causing chemicals in crumb samples from artificial turf soccer fields.

    Specifically, the professor was analyzing 3G pitches–which claim to be the most significant and successful development in synthetic surface technology designed for football (soccer) and rugby. In 3G turf, the pile (artificial grass ‘blades’) is supported by a thin base layer of sand, and by AN INFILL OF RUBBER CRUMB. The pile height ranges from 40mm to 65mm depending on which primary sport is to be played on the surface.

    An article in The Scotsman reports: “Samples of the crumb – pellets spread on the artificial turf to improve its bounce – were sent for testing by the Environment Scientifics Group, and the results were passed to Professor Andrew Watterson, an environmental health expert from the University of Stirling. Watterson was quoted as saying: “THIS REPORT CONFIRMS AND REVEALS THE PRESENCE OF A NUMBER OF CARCINOGENS AT VARIOUS LEVELS IN THE RUBBER CRUMB.
    “If the chemicals and metals remain locked in to the crumb, then there will be no exposure. “However, it seems to be fairly clear that there may be some potential risk from some of these substances to sports people.”

    FieldTurf, a big seller of artificial turf fields, claims: ” Volumes of research and testing from academics and state governments like New York, California, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and school systems have examined everything called into question about synthetic turf. The conclusions show that there isn’t conclusive scientific evidence proving that artificial turf systems cause health risks. Synthetic turf is, and has always been safe. There is no scientific or medical evidence that synthetic turf poses a human health or environmental risk.”

    There has been concern about the safety of artificial turf for years. In 1978, experts found exposing mice to Chrysene led to a huge increase in tumours in the animals. A 1993 study into Benzo (E) Pyrene said the substance promotes tumours forming on skin.

    In 2014, NBC looked into the potential link between the rubber crumbs used in artificial turf and female soccer players getting cancer. The broadcast focused on Amy Griffin, associate head coach for the University of Washington’s women’s soccer team. Griffin, in her words, has discovered “a stream of kids” that have played on artificial turf and soon gotten cancer. Griffin has compiled a list of 38 American soccer players–34 of them goalies–who have been diagnosed with cancer. At least a dozen played in Washington, but the geographic spread is nationwide. Blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia dominate the list.

    In response to a NBC News investigation, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the EPA Administrator looking for more information about the safety of crumb rubber fields. Congress gave the EPA a November 6, 2015 deadline, which the EPA failed to meet.

    Finally in February three U.S. government agencies will team up to study whether artificial turf fields and PLAYGROUNDS THAT USE BITS OF RECYCLED TIRES are exposing children to dangerous chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday they will study the issue, CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement.

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