Crumb Rubber Fields – An Emerging Mass Tort?

Bloomberg News recently interviewed my law partner Doug Daniels and I for an article entitled “Playing Fields and Cancer – An Emerging Mass Tort?”  The article examines whether crumb rubber synthetic playing fields could be the next mass tort considering the effects these fields have on public health and the environment.  The chances are good these fields become vulnerable to litigation, public scrutiny, and increased government oversight and regulation.

As a coincidence, this past weekend I witnessed a crumb rubber field being installed by RS Global, a company based in Dallas, Texas.  Field Turf provide the materials while RS Global performed the actual installation.  It was for a local private school in Houston.  My kids were playing on the adjacent grass fields during the installation.  I could see heat waves rising above the field as the day was sunny and in the mid-80s.

The tall white bags are filled with crumb rubber pellets.

The tall white bags are filled with crumb rubber pellets. Each crumb rubber turf field contains 20,000-40,000 recycled tires.


Produced from recycled scrap tires, crumb rubber consists of granular-sized rubber pellets measuring approximately 1 millimeter and often mixed with sand to provide a playing surface with a firm but forgiving cushion.



Most people are aware that rubber tires contain over 200 raw materials including carcinogens, heavy metals like lead and zinc, and carbon black. The most common form of rubber tire is the co-polymer styrene-butadiene (SBR). These chemicals include polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), zinc, iron, manganese, nickel, PCB, copper, mercury, lead, cadmium, volatile nitrosamines, benzothiazole, isononylphenol, and more.

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