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"Rubber Mulch" A Danger for Gardens and perhaps even People

Synthetic Turf

North Haven, CT - Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is very concerned about the ground-up rubber tires that unsuspecting people are buying at places like Home Depot, Lowe's, B.J.'s and the internet and spreading the ground-up tire "mulch" all over their gardens.

In some states rubber tires are a "Hazardous Waste" and in other states they are a "Special Waste". Whichever the case - one has to get a permit to dispose of rubber tires and there is a cost associated with that disposal.

It is these very same rubber tires that are being cut up and sold to people as "mulch".

Why is this a serious problem?

  1. The rubber mulch has an excess amount of zinc - and the excess zinc stunts the growth of plants. See North Carolina's Department of Agricultural's study on
    rubber mulch -http://www.ncagr.com/agronomi/pdffiles/rubber.pdf
  2. There is the potential for ground water contamination from the chemicals in the ground up rubber tire mulch. For people on residential wells, this is particularly worrisome.
  3. If the rubber mulch is used on vegetable gardens there is the possibility that the plants will uptake the chemicals found in the used tire mulch.
  4. Chemicals found in rubber tires are:
    • Benzene Carcinogen, Developmental Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant
    • Phtalates Suspected Developmental Toxicant, Endocrine Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant
    • PAHs Suspected Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant ,Respiratory Toxicant,
    • Manganese a neurotoxin
    • Carbon Black Carcinogen
    • Latex Causes allergic reactions in some people
    • Benzothiazole: Skin and eye irritation, harmful if swallowed. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    • Butylated hydroxyanisole: Recognized carcinogen, suspected endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immunotoxicant (adverse effects on the immune system), neurotoxicant (adverse effects on the nervous system), skin and sense-organ toxicant. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    • n-hexadecane: Severe irritant based on human and animal studies. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    • 4-(t-octyl) phenol: Corrosive and destructive to mucous membranes. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    • Zinc: There is a very large amount of zinc that is added in the manufacturing of tires and therefore there is a great deal of zinc.
  5. The companies producing and selling this product do not explain where the rubber mulch comes from or the dangers it presents to gardens, soil contamination and ground water. They are simply telling people they won't have to mulch again for the next 10 years because the product will not break down. Real garden mulch is meant to break down and become part of the soil.

Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is a nine-member, non-profit organization composed of physicians , public health professionals and policy experts, dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms.

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