The Obama administration has given the green light to three federal agencies to begin a collaborative investigation into potential health risks associated with crumb-rubber turf – employed in many playing fields and children’s play areas across the United States, reports NBC.
The turf is made from recycled rubber tires and used as an alternative to natural turf to provide year-round cushioning and traction for athletes. While there is currently no conclusive evidence that crumb-rubber is unsafe, in 2015 a soccer coach from the University of Washington presented a list of young athletes who are now suffering from cancer due, he says, to regularly playing on crumb-rubber turf fields. Most of the 200 athletes on the list are soccer goal-keepers – who are naturally required to spend more time on the ground than other players.
UPI report that Sen. Bill Nelson, D -Fla., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pushed for the White House to approve the study:
Given that millions of children and young athletes play on crumb-rubber synthetic surfaces every day, correlation with cancer cannot be ignored.
The $2 million study will see the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission unite to examine any possible link between cancer and the chemicals contained in the crumb-rubber turf. “Parents and athletes of all ages want and deserve conclusive answers on whether exposure to crumb rubber turf can make one sick,” Sen. Nelson told NBC.
Combining the resources and expertise of three federal agencies to help find those answers is the right thing to do.
The news was welcomed by environmental lawyers Jon and Laura Damm, who have been campaigning for their local authorities in Fairfax County, Virginia, to cease using crumb-rubber at sports facilities:
It’s fantastic…This really provides us with a lot of hope…Hopefully they’ll take a pause and use one of the alternatives and see how this plays out.