Crumb Rubber is recycled rubber from automotive and truck scrap tires. During the recycling process steel and tire cord (fluff) is removed leaving tire rubber with a granular consistency. Continued processing with a granulator and/or cracker mill, possibly with the aid of cryogenics or mechanical means, reduces the size of the particles further. The particles are sized and classified based on various criteria including color (black only or black and white). The granulate is sized by passing through a screen, the size based on a dimension (1/4") or mesh (holes per inch : 10, 20, etc.). Crumb rubber is often used in astroturf as cushioning, where it is sometimes referred to as astro-dirt.
Mesh refers to material that has been sized by passing through a screen with a given number of holes per inch. For example, 10 mesh crumb rubber has passed through a screen with 10 holes per inch resulting in rubber granulate that is slightly less than 1/10 of an inch. The exact size will depend on the size of wire used in the screen.
The first synthetic grass was placed over concrete in 1964 and became known as “Chem Grass.” It was later named “Astro Turf” when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome in 1966. Athletes did not like playing on these fields because it was dangerous and not comfortable for their landings. Compared to only a thin layer of Astro Turf on top of concrete, a new artificial turf was developed in the early 2000’s and was called styrene butadiene rubber, most commonly known as “crumb rubber.” This rubber was made of small black crumb pieces that came from old tires. The tire crumbs were poured in between the fake grass blades which gave the artificial fields more cushion and support. This was a better solution and satisfied athletes and prevention of major injuries.
Recycled pavement material
Rubberized asphalt is the largest market for crumb rubber in the United States, consuming an estimated 220 million pounds, or approximately 12 million tires annually. Crumb rubber is also used as ground cover under playground equipment, and as a surface material for running tracks and athletic fields.
What it is made of
- 70% recoverable rubber
- 15% steel
- 3% fiber
- 12% extraneous material
Crushing Crumb Rubber
A waste tire processing plant recycles whole car and truck tires into a valuable product called crumb rubber. This crumb rubber can then used in numerous applications including sport fields, rubberized asphalt for paving and a wide variety of molded products. The steel and fiber removed during this process is also recycled into 20mesh-80mesh Crumb Rubber. 
Description of crumb rubber grading
The following are common classifications of crumb rubber:
Retreaders tire buffings shall consist of clean, fresh, dry buffings from tire retread preparation operations.
No.1 - Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black Only Guaranteed MetalFree, sized. Magnetically separated materials are not acceptable. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.2 - Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black & White Guaranteed MetalFree, sized to minus 40 Mesh. Magnetically separated materials are not acceptable. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.3 - Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black Only Magnetically Separated, sized. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.4 - Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black & White Magnetically Separated, sized. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.5 - Tire Granule shall consist of unclassified granulated tire crumb, Sized, Unseparated, not magnetically separated, fluff from tire cord not removed.
Purpose of Crumb Rubber
- Athletic surfaces and fields
- Agrimats and equestrian footing
- Automotive parts and tires
- Landscape, trails and walkways
- Molded and extruded products
- Playground and other safety surfaces
- Rubber modified asphalt and sealants
- Rubber and plastic blends
When dealing with asphalt overlays, reflection cracks can arise and cause an unwanted crack pattern beneath the pavement. Rubber-modified asphalt uses stress absorbing membranes that reduce the reflective cracking because of its elastic properties. With less cracks, there are fewer repairs, so crumb rubber assists in reducing maintenance costs. The pavement has an increased lifespan because after multiple uses and exposure to different elements, regular asphalt loses elasticity over time. The use of the artificial rubber resists the formation of cracks and has an anti-aging effect that keeps the asphalt in a better condition. 
Studies have been conducted and scientists have come to the conclusion that there is, in fact, a connection that the chemicals from the tires may be a cause of cancer. Crumb rubber is made up of compounds called carcinogens, which can cause cancer. The International Agency for Research of Cancer has studied the crumb rubber with multiple tests in cancer treatment hospitals and rubber fabrication facilities around the world.Rutgers University did a study in 2006 of the tire crumbs that were being used on synthetic turf fields, and they found six polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) at extremely dangerous levels. These compounds are most likely carcinogenic to the human body due to a solvent extraction used to release the chemicals. It is difficult to know exactly how much carcinogen is in the rubber. A study of the chemicals released from crumb rubber found 49 chemicals, with seven of them being carcinogens.
Artificial turf fields are found all over the United States and are most commonly found at major high schools and athletic complexes. Anyone who has ever seen or played on this surface is familiar with the “little black crumbs.” These crumbs are small remains of old tires. They get everywhere; in the players socks, cleats, his or her hair, etc. Studies have shown that these pieces of tire are being consumed and isn’t healthy. Tests conducted on soccer goalies have shown that they are affected most. They’re in the air or on the ground the most which results with the rubber pieces flying up and getting into their bloodstream. The crumbs get in by their open cuts, their ears and their mouths, making the players ill from the chemicals and carcinogens they contain. 
The crumb rubber is used as a filling in artificial turf fields. They were used in its capacity that prevented about 300 million pounds of rubber that polluted landfills in 2007. Generally it takes 20,000-40,000 scrap tires to produce enough filling to cover an average football field (City of Portland, 2008)
- Rappleye, Hannah. "How Safe is the Artificial Turf?". NBC.
- EPA. "Management of Scrap Tires". Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- "Rubber Crusher Plant of Scrap Tires". Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Granulated Rubber (Tire Crumb)". Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Artificial Turf: Exposures to Ground Up Rubber Tires - Athletic Fields, Playgrounds, Garden Mulch". Environment and Human Health Inc.
- "Benefits of Rubberized Asphalt". Clemson.
- "LABORATORY IDENTIFICATION OF COMPOUNDS RELEASED FROM TIRE CRUMBS AND RUBBER MULCH". Environment and Human Health Inc.
- "Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields". New York State Department of Health.
- "Review of the Impacts of Crumb Rubber in Artificial Turf Applications". Liberty Tire.