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Are Artificial Turf Fields Safe for Children?

The federal government recently launched an investigation into the safety of artificial turf fields and playgrounds. Researchers will study whether the play surface, which is made from recycled tires, poses health concerns for children.

The Health Risks of Crumb Rubber

Synthetic turf made of crumb rubber is a popular alternative to grass because it is easier and cheaper to maintain. It is now found in tens of thousands of parks, playgrounds, schools, and stadiums across the United States.

Because the artificial turf is made from ground up tires, any of the chemicals found in the tires — benzene, carbon black, mercury and lead — are also in the turf. While the risks of inhalation, ingestion, and skin exposure have not been conclusively established, initial studies have shown that crumb rubber could put children at risk for cancer and other health conditions. Accordingly, some cities and towns have already made the decision to stop using it.

The Federal Investigation into Artificial Turf

In January, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Bill Nelson called on the Obama Administration to launch a multi-agency investigation into the safety concerns surrounding synthetic turf. In response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced that they will work together on the federal study that aims to determine whether artificial turf made from crumb rubber poses any long-term health hazards for children.

While the lawmakers acknowledged that the scientific evidence regarding the risks of crumb rubber is still incomplete, they noted that early research suggests a link to cancer. In their letter to President Obama, the Senators specifically cited a report from the University of Washington, where soccer coach Amy Griffin found there are now 153 reported cancer cases involving athletes who spent significant periods of time playing on synthetic turf with crumb rubber infill. Of the reported cases, 124 of the athletes are soccer players, of which 85 percent played goalie.

“Given that millions of children and young athletes play on crumb rubber synthetic surfaces every day, this correlation with cancer cannot be ignored,” Sens. Blumenthal and Nelson wrote. We will be closely following the investigation and posting updates as they become available.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to dangerous product, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Our legal team has successfully represented clients against manufacturers and distributors for more than 30 years.