Why do shock-absorbing rubber tiles have to comply with the limit for consumer products while rubber granulate does not?

This has a legal background. Shock-absorbing rubber tiles are consumer products, and rubber granulate is considered a mixture of substances that have different limit. RIVM recommends adjusting the limit for rubber granulate to one that is closer to the limit for consumer products.

Is it safe to play on shock-absorbing rubber tiles?

Based on the calculations, it can be concluded that it is safe to play on tiles that comply with the limit for consumer products. The composition of rubber tiles as they are sold or are present in playgrounds has not been investigated. This study on the product limit for PAHs in rubber tiles is a theoretical one.

The limit for all consumer products containing rubber was tightened in 2015. What about the older shock-absorbing rubber tiles?

The composition of shock-absorbing rubber tiles was not investigated in this study.

Do the current tiles comply with the limit?

This is a theoretical study. The composition of shock-absorbing rubber tiles was not investigated in this study.

Why was this study done if the composition of the tiles in the Netherlands has not been studied?

The limit for consumer products was tightened in 2015. RIVM has calculated the health risks for playing children when the rubber tiles contain the maximum permitted amount of PAHs. In setting this limit it was agreed that it would be evaluated by the European Commission in 2017. The RIVM calculation of health risks from the shock-absorbing tiles that comply with the limit can contribute to this evaluation.

How is the risk of cancer-causing substances from the tiles calculated?

In general, the risks from the exposure to cancer-causing substances are indicated as the extra number of people who develop cancer per million of exposed people; the term ‘extra’ is used as people have the risk of developing cancer without this exposure. An extra risk of 1 in a million exposed people is regarded as negligible in the risk assessment of cancer-causing substances. Because of the uncertainties about the exposure, the calculated extra cancer risk due to the exposure to rubber tiles is presented as a range, meaning that the extra risk lies between two extreme values. At the worst-case extreme level, the negligible risk level is slightly exceeded.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) made a recommendation in 2014 on rubber tiles and concluded that the future REACH limit value of 1 or 0.5 mg/kg is adequate. Why did RIVM make a new risk assessment?

The NVWA opinion is based on an RIVM assessment from 2013. This was made following an incident. That assessment was based on an exposure period of 6 months. The risk assessment that has now been established is based on an exposure period of 11 years.  Both assessments have a fundamentally different premise. In the event of an incident, the harmfulness of the situation encountered is assessed, with a view to taking immediate measures to protect health or limit further damage. When assessing a safe limit, protection of the most sensitive population groups is examined, in which outliers (e.g. playing outdoors on rubber tiles for 11 years) are also protected. Therefore, this is the other side of the spectrum: at which concentration are we certain that there is no damage.