TURLOCK (CBS13) – There’s a new turf war developing across California.
A state senator wants to ban recycled tires used in the artificial turf at schools and playgrounds because there may be a link to cancer. That has people asking what this ban would mean for local schools that already have the turf and the businesses that produce it.
It’s quiet at the Rubber Bark factory. Two months ago, these machines would have been turning old tires into cushioned turf, but a network news report slowed sales almost overnight after raising concerns that a chemical in the tires could cause cancer.
Rubber Bark CEO Jana Nairn says there is a chemical that could be linked to cancer in the old tires. But the studies she pulled from universities, including UC Berkley, show it’s only harmful if it burns and is inhaled.
“And many of them have been done by state agencies across the nation,” said Nairn.
But California State Senator Jerry Hill isn’t convinced. He wants to ban the use of recycled tires for two years until further studies can be done. He says the burned rubber on the road is not the same as playing on it.
“Tire particles are not right next to my child’s or our children’s noses and we’re not ingesting those tire particles,” said Senator Hill.
The recycled tire turf is found almost everywhere.
“We’ve been shipping to cities and counties and schools and residences all over the west coast, all over California,” said Nairn.
So, if the tires are cancer-causing, will all the turf have to be removed? If the bill is approved, Senator Hill says yes.
“If they are harmful, we certainly don’t want to put them in a playground or ball field so that children can be harmed by that,” he said.
Nairn says if the tires are banned, her business and recycling center will close. And the next question Nairn and Hill can’t answer is what will happen with all of California’s old tires?
Escalon and Lincoln unified school districts both recently received grants from Cal Recycle to install the tire turf. District spokespersons say today was the first time they’ve heard about the potential danger.