Danger hidden in artificial turf
October 05, 2015
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has withdrawn its safety endorsement for artificial turf. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is taking credit for having exerted pressure to get an admission by Elliot F. Kaye, chairman of the CPSC, that he did not intend to convey that artificial turf was "safe to play on." That the endorsement was the result of a "political effort at the time" was a further admission by Kaye during questioning by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) at a CMT CPSC Oversight hearing last May 2015.

Crum rubber, or synthetic turf made from recycled tires, has been the subject of several studies evaluating the risk to those exposed to its potentially hazardous chemicals--benzothiazole, carbon black and heavy metals. However, their conclusion has been that the degree of exposure whether thru ingestion, touch or inhalation is too small to cause significant health risks. The significance of the endorsement of these studies by the Synthetic Turf Council, perhaps, needs further investigation.

Mounting statistics, albeit still insignificant, were compiled by June Everett after establishing the Austin Everett Foundation that works with professional and collegiate athletic organizations to empower and improve the lives of kids battling cancer. She discovered that several soccer goalies had contacted cancer like her daughter who was involved with the sport for many years playing on artificial turf.

According to PEER, it was EPA's safety endorsement that helped spread the use of artificial turf fields. No risk assessment data apparently is available to substantiate the EPA endorsement that was intended to promote the use of shredded tires as a solution to a solid waste problem.

In late 2013 PEER was told by the CPSC that it had opened an enforcement review on PEER's complaint regarding the safety of using artificial turf. PEER claims that the agency is unable to produce any records reflecting what happened to that review.

Right now the CPSC is preoccupied with establishing safety standards for baby bouncers et al. PEER hopes that crum rubber remains an emerging national issue that the CPSC will be forced to address.

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