Previously, I wrote an article about kids in sports and the dangers of concussions.
Now there is growing evidence that many student athletes play on fields covered in what’s called ‘crumb rubber.’ According to a report from Chicago’s CBS 2 “New research is confirming that the tiny rubber pellets often contain cancer-causing chemicals.”
The report continues: “Environment and Human Health’s study at Yale University revealed that 20% of the 96 chemicals found in this turf are probable carcinogens — a potential cancer risk. They also found skin, eye and even respiratory irritants, some of which could cause asthma. The group also says nearly half the chemicals found in the crumb rubber have not been properly studied, so the health effects are unknown.”
Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Robert Cohen says there has been a lack of significant, long-term testing of crumb rubber to find out whether there is a health danger.
“We know some of these chemicals do cause cancer,” Cohen says. “I think the frightening thing is that we just don’t have the information we need.
Environment and Human Health, Inc., calls crumb rubber an “incredibly irresponsible experiment in people’s health.”
However, the Synthetic Turf Council has pointed to almost 60 studies indicating that crumb rubber is safe.
That’s not good enough, according to other experts.
Up until now the Environmental Protection Agency has refused comment on the allegations that crumb rubber does cause cancer and other illnesses.
One mom in the state of Washington lost her daughter, who was a goalie on her high school soccer team, to cancer. The mother suspects the artificial turf had something to do with it and is demanding answers.
NBC’s investigation also notes that University of Washington women’s soccer coach Amy Griffin keeps adding names to her list of athletes — most of them soccer goalies — who played on crumb rubber turf and have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Her list has grown from 34 goalkeepers to at least 63. She notes that the Washington State Department of Health has also begun its own research.
Congress is finally stepping in. Lawmakers are now asking the Environmental Protection Agency to weigh in on whether crumb rubber used in artificial turf fields in thousands of schools, parks and stadiums is safe for young athletes — citing the series of stories by CBS, NBC and other news outlets.
The bipartisan panel has asked the EPA to answer 10 questions about what tests have been done to determine whether turf made from recycled tires poses a health risk and what investigators have found.
Among the questions: “Are you aware of any studies about carcinogens present in field sports generally?” “Do data indicate that risk is greater for female athletes than for male athletes, for soccer players than for lacrosse, field hockey, or football players, and for one position in soccer more than for others?”
Some school systems have already banned crumb rubber. Others still allege it’s perfectly safe.
It will be interesting to see the results of the Congressional investigation. We should see a report on the EPA responses sometime in November.
Crumb rubber pellets recovered from an artificial turf field, left, and Nike Grind rubber bits, nestled among fake blades of grass, at right. Courtesy NBC News
Meanwhile, if you have a concern that you are a loved one has fallen seriously ill or has been injured due to any type of product that is suspected to be dangerous, contact us at Theodoros & Rooth.
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