3 Federal Agencies Officially Begin Researching the Danger of Crumb Rubber Fields


crumb rubber

Crumb rubber pellets recovered from an artificial turf field, left, and Nike Grind rubber bits, nestled among fake blades of grass, at right.

Finally the government is getting involved in researching crumb rubber fields.  NBC News reports, “Three federal agencies are teaming up to investigate the safety of crumb rubber artificial turf used in playing fields and playground all across the country.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an ‘action plan’ on Friday to answer questions raised about synthetic turf made from recycled tires and possible risks for young athletes.”

The announcement came three weeks after Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked President Barack Obama to spearhead a comprehensive study of the playing surface.

“Parents and athletes of all ages want and deserve conclusive answers on whether exposure to crumb rubber turf can make one sick,” Nelson said. “Combining the resources and expertise of three federal agencies to help find those answers is the right thing to do.”

While critics and supporters of crumb rubber turf don’t agree on whether the surface poses a health risk — the industry says studies have shown no link with illness, while some parents and activists demand more testing — all sides want federal regulators to take a clear public position.

The announcement was welcome news to Jon and Laura Damm, environmental lawyers and parents who live in Fairfax County, Virginia, and have been pushing for local authorities to stop using crumb rubber in athletic fields.

“I think it’s fantastic…This really provides us with a lot of hope,” said Jon Damm, who also plays and coaches lacrosse.

He said that cities across the country should take note of the feds’ assessment that existing studies are not comprehensive enough.

“Hopefully they’ll take a pause and use one of the alternatives and see how this plays out,” he said.

The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry group, also said it supports the federal effort.

“We have consistently said that we support all additional research,” the council said in a statement. “At the same time, we strongly reaffirm that the existing studies clearly show that artificial turf fields and playgrounds with crumb rubber infill are safe and have no link to any health issues.

“We hope the federal government’s involvement, which we have been encouraging for years, will settle this matter once and for all, put parents’ minds at ease, and validate past and recent due diligence by public officials,” it added.

It’s about time. These fields are everywhere.

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