Health and Safety Concerns about Crumb Rubber

The Crumb Rubber underlayment was unacceptable to many parents for a variety of reasons. It off-gassed heavily year-round, though it was much stronger in hot weather. The smell had a strong chemical quality to it, similar to industrial solvents and tires. A number of adults and children reacted strongly to the Crumb Rubber after being on the playground for only minutes. Some had allergic reactions and had to get medical attention. Others got headaches and nausea. Enough people reacted strongly enough that the school had an unusually difficult time scheduling volunteers for playground duty during recess. Many parents were convinced that, while there were no definitive studies showing that Crumb Rubber is either harmful or safe, there was enough evidence for them to decide it posed an unacceptable health risk to their children and had to be removed. Samples were sent to a lab for analysis and showed the presence of many heavy metals and known carcinogens as well as a number of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Many of these compounds are not well studied, but noted as cause for concern. The chunks of Crumb Rubber were initially the size of gravel but soon began breaking down to fine dust. On still days, a cloudy haze could be observed around the playground during recess. Chunks of Crumb Rubber migrated all over the school grounds and school building and found their way home with students in their clothes, lunch boxes, hair, ears and mouths. The exposure children were getting could not be described as light. They were breathing it while on the playground and wearing it on their bodies the rest of the day.
In addition to the health issues, many parents were concerned with the fact that the Crumb Rubber discriminated against children with physical disabilities. Being light and loose, it moved around readily and made the whole playground inaccessible to wheel chairs and walkers.
Proponents of the Crumb Rubber noted that it had the highest fall-safety rating, which it does. The problem was that, because it moved around so readily, the children's' normal activity pushed it out of the fall zones leaving too little material to provide the specified fall rating. The maintenance personnel had to spend extra time on a daily basis raking the Crumb Rubber back into the fall zones.