Athletic turf may pose significant health risk for children

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Athletic turf may pose significant health risk for children

Artificial athletic turfs are all over the United States and seem to be a good use of resources, but are they causing significant health risk in children and young adults? A recent article in NBC News shared that these turfs filled with tiny black rubber crumbs could be a possible cause of elevated cases of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among teens and college-age soccer students. After several of her players were diagnosed, Coach Amy Griffin compiled a list of 38 American soccer players, 34 of which were goalies that had been diagnosed with cancer. The majority of the individuals on the list were cases of blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. Griffin now takes a handful of every turf she goes to with her team and ships it off to be studied.

The tiny black crumbs of old tires the fields are made of can get in the players hair, mouth, and uniform and even in their cuts and scrapes. The tires come from a range of places and can contain mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and arsenic. When the fields get hot, they also release a gas that is full of chemicals. Overall the turfs have a significant impact on young athletes.

Although there is a possibility that these turfs may pose significant health risk, they have help prevent concussions. The turfs can be found everywhere from high schools to multi-million dollar complexes and save millions of tires from ending up in landfills every year. The Synthetic Turf Council reported that 14 studies on their website show that there are no negative health effects, and the CDC has also never found the turfs to be a risk.

Congressman Frank Pallone, has now written the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry calling for an official study on the potential health risk that could come from artificial athletic turfs. “It is clear that more data is needed to evaluate the risks that exist from exposure to crumb rubber in athletic turf and its effect on human health,” Rep. Pallone wrote.  He specifically asked for a study on whether there is a correlation of the crumb rubber to an increase in the risk of blood cancers.  The most recent study was done in 2009 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which found levels of hazardous substances at four turf sites to be too low to cause harm to humans.

We hope that these studies will shed light on the issue of whether it is safe to let children and teens play on these turfs.

Source: NBS News,

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  1. […] and adults have suffered severe health related issues after prolonged exposure to these turfs. You can learn more about those circumstances on our blog here. We sincerely hope that CPSC will consider opening its own investigation of the […]

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