Health and Environmental Concerns
Disease carrying pests such as rodents may live in tire piles. Mosquitoes can also breed in the stagnant water that collects inside tires. Several varieties of mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, including encephalitis and dengue fever. Mosquito control and eradication programs—short of removing tire piles—are difficult. For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fire presents a second concern. Scrap tire fires are difficult to extinguish, and can burn for long periods. Tire fires release thick black smoke and can contaminate the soil with an oily residue. Tire fires generally start either as a result of arson or an accident. More information on tire fires.
Playgrounds and Synthetic Turf Fields
There have been concerns about the health implications of the use of recycled tire crumb in playgrounds and in synthetic turf athletic fields. EPA conducted a limited Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds. The purpose of the limited study was to test a method for measuring possible emissions from using synthetic turf on playgrounds and ball fields. The final report was issued in 2009 and, for the four sites studied, the concentrations of components monitored were below levels of concern. However, given the very limited nature of this study (i.e., limited number of components monitored, samples sites, and samples taken at each site) and the wide diversity of tire crumb material, it is not possible to reach comprehensive conclusions without the consideration of additional data. To supplement this study’s limited data, EPA met with state and local representatives in 2010 to review other available field monitoring studies.