The recycled rubber used to cushion children's playgrounds could be contaminated with lead and other toxins, USA Today reported. The advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility learned of this potential danger through internal EPA documents obtained via an FOIA request. A 2008 EPA memo said "there are insufficient data to assess the full spectrum of those risks." Rubber-chip surfaces, however, do prevent injuries better than bark mulch of concrete surfaces.
There's a growing debate about the safety of the recycled rubber chips used to cushion falls on many children's playgrounds.
The Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed rubber play surfaces since 1991, both to protect children from head injuries and prevent tires from ending up in landfills, where they can catch fire or become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Yet EPA officials say they can't vouch for the safety of recycled rubber, which can be contaminated with lead and other toxins, according to internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER.