Who’s At Risk? It is believed that children who play sports, such as soccer, football on artificial turf fields may be at the greatest risk for developing cancer.
What is ‘Crumb rubber’? It is used in artificial turf fields to fill the space between the grass blades. It is a form of recycled rubber made from automobile and truck tires. The EPA states that a number of materials, including lead and benzene, may be found in tires. Therefore, some believe that these same substances may also be present in artificial turf fields across the country.
Have Lawsuits Been Filed? Yes – and three of the country’s biggest manufacturers of artificial turf, Field Turf, AstroTurf LLC and Beaulieu Group, have already agreed to reduce the amount of lead in their products. This came after the California Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit alleging that the companies failed to warn the public about harmful substances in their artificial turf products. These lawsuits did not provide compensation to those injured as a result of exposure to synthetic turf.
Who’s At Risk? Any child or adult who has spent an extended amount of time on artificial playing fields may have been exposed to lead and other carcinogens. Child athletes, especially high school soccer goalies, are thought to be particularly at risk for health problems related to artificial turf, as they are routinely in contact with the ground.
Study Find Dangerous Amounts of Lead in Artificial Turf
The main reason artificial turf is particularly dangerous is because it contains “crumb rubber,” which is made of ground-up rubber tires and is used to fill space between the turf’s grass blades. According to the EPA, tires contain lead and a number of other potentially hazardous substances, leading many to believe that artificial turf products may also contain the same dangerous compounds and materials found in automobile and truck tires.
In 2010, as part of a state investigation, artificial turf at The Mission Recreation Center in San Francisco was tested for lead levels. At the time, the California state standard for lead in children’s products (turf is classified as a children’s product since children frequently play on it) was 300 parts per million (ppm). The Mission Recreation Center’s field was found to contain 17,000 ppm, which meant that the turf contained a dangerously high level of lead. The California standard for lead ppm has since been lowered to only 60 ppm, making the recreation center’s turf more than 250 times the level now thought to be safe. Unfortunately, it is believed that such high levels of lead in sports fields across the country are not uncommon.
Companies Reduce Lead Use in Turf, But Thousands Still At Risk
In 2009 and 2010, Field Turf, AstroTurf LLC and Beaulieu Group faced legal action from the California Attorney General’s Office over allegations that they failed to warn the public about the lead in their products. As a result of a settlement, the turf manufacturers agreed to drastically reduce the use of lead in their products and to replace turf in fields considered to be unsafe; however, because this settlement only required the companies to replace unsafe turf in California, thousands of playgrounds, parks and sports fields across the country may still contain hazardous levels of lead.
SynTurf.org Note: The purveyors of artificial turf fields are rather fond of saying that ‘[d]uring the past two decades, there have been more than 60 technical studies and reports that review the health effects of crumb rubber. The preponderance of evidence show no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf.” The preponderance of evidence is civil measure of responsibility and its usually satisfied with a showing of 50+1 percent certainty. That leaves 49% of uncertainty. If among 100 players, 51 did not get cancer but 49 did would one excuse the deaths of 49 players to such a standard. In this country—at least one would hope—that in matters of public health and certainly life-and death that one would espouse a higher standard—even more so than the familiar “beyond the reasonable doubt” but decide matter son the basis of “beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Please call or email your opposition to your elected officials now. Tell them to back down on MD House Bill 597 and stay transparent. See our previous coverage here >>> Say “NO” to – HOUSE BILL 597 – Outdoor Synthetic Turf Fields.