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Crumb Rubber Update

The battles in the states over the use of crumb rubber on synthetic fields has primarily continued in the usual places – Washington, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.

Throughout the country, the discussions revolve around the federal study being conducted at EPA, CPSC, ATSDR, and CDC as well as in California. While there are nearly 100 studies and reports already in existence from all over the world, the federal study has become the focal point for policymakers, parents, teachers, and athletes. Over the past several months, a couple of reports have been completed that have helped answer many of the data gaps and other questions. A Dutch study as well as one from Washington state have both provided useful and definitive information. However, the federal study continues to garner the most attention.

Earlier this year, EPA issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing their plan to conduct the study on crumb rubber used on athletic fields – both indoor and outdoor over the next two years. Over a year ago, EPA was directed to complete this study within one year. The Federal Register notice was issued several days before the new EPA administer Scott Pruitt was confirmed. While the federal study had a very ambitious timeframe, EPA’s progress in developing the study plan took significant time and pushed back the completion date. Industry argued that any report should have baselines and explanations of the found chemicals so that anyone who is not a practicing toxicologist would be able to easily understand the findings. At this point, EPA staff is continuing to advance the study even with a drastically reduced federal budget and no direct funding source. Currently there is no assistant administrator who will be responsible for overseeing this study. 

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there is no confirmed chairman. Instead, Ann Marie Buerkle is the acting chairman. During a public conversation, she explained that she is unable to proceed without a quorum and indicated that with a reduced budget for the Commission, studies such as the crumb rubber one for playgrounds would not be a priority largely because there is already a large body of science. She did not know when she would be formally nominated for the chairman role and when other commissioners would be appointed so that the CPSC can function. This is a common theme in Washington as the Trump Administration is taking it very slow at filling out the large number of political appointees with authority to promulgate regulations and approve research. 

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