Soccer Organizer Waiting On Studies

Fourth in Series

Orange County Adult Soccer League organizer Rob Smith who rents both grass and synthetic turf fields in Chapel Hill and Durham for OCASL program sent an email alert to players regarding tire crumb fields:

“OCASL does rent artificial turf fields in Durham and Chapel Hill, and that turf probably contains ‘crumbled tire fill.’ There is anecdotal evidence that the fill may be carcinogenic.  The risk may be increased for younger players (because of their reduced body size and because of their proximity to the surface) and there may be increased risk on hotter days.  We are not aware of scientific studies that prove or disprove increased risk…We’ll keep our players informed to the best of our ability on anything new we learn.”

Smith said he was referred by one of his players to a researcher at EPA who is studying the issue and who happens to be a soccer referee. Otherwise, there was no strong reaction regarding TC fields from the players either way.

Three federal agencies agreed in February to undertake a study of the potential health risks associated with tire crumb rubber fields and playgrounds (CSN, March 2016). They are taking public comments through April 18 at website. According to EPA, a draft status report on the study is due by the end of 2016.

“We will wait to see what the upcoming studies show, and we’ll see what the EPA scientist can tell us,” Smith added. “Hopefully the studies will be independent (not conducted or sponsored by the industry) and peer reviewed.  We understand that such studies might take a long time to conduct. We’ll notify our players of any new information we learn.

“If the science shows that the fields are dangerous, we hope there is a solution that will allow continued play on the artificial surface. This would probably entail vacuuming up the tire crumble and replacing it with some inert material. This would cause some unknown add­ed expense, but would be worth the cost—again, provided that the science shows the risk is more than minimal.”  J.B.