For many years, sports players have used all-weather pitches for football, gaelic sports, rugby, lacrosse and other sports. These artificial playing surfaces often use rubber granules as infill to make the pitches more durable, weather-proof and to add shock absorption and traction.

Playground surfaces also often use loose rubber mulches underneath swings, slides and other playground equipment to cushion the ground when a child falls. The granules and mulches are often made from scrap end-of-life tyres (ELTs) that are broken up and ground down into smaller forms.

The granules and mulches may contain a number of potentially hazardous substances including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, and phthalates, and they may also release volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic hydrocarbons (SVOCs). The presence of these hazardous substances has led to concerns about the safety of artificial sports pitches and playgrounds.