Tire Crumb Field Safety Questioned

Bob Conroy

Second in Series

The use of recycled tires as artificial turf infill (CSN, January 2016) was called the “larg­est failure of government at all levels in our lifetime” by Nancy Alderman, president, En­vi­ronment and Human Health Inc.

In a CSN interview she pointed to local, state and federal government decisions that have resulted in persons playing on synthetic turf fields surfaced with rubber tire mulch being exposed concurrently to multiple chemicals and multiple carcinogens.

In addition to athletic fields, shredded tires are being used on playgrounds and as gardening mulch. Alderman noted that in the US alone one used tire per person is generated annually. Disposal is a big problem and using shredded tires for athletic fields was considered a creative solution.

Environment and Human Health Inc. (EH­HI) of North Haven, Conn., is a non-profit organization of physicians, public health professionals dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms and does not receive any funds from businesses or corporations. http://www.ehhi.org.

Chapel Hill and Durham have synthetic turf fields with tire crumbs at Cedar Falls, Old Chapel Hill Road, Herndon, Twin Lakes city parks. UNC is considering new artificial turf surface for Fetzer Field renovation project ap­proved by BOG in October. Duke’s West Campus baseball field appears to be synthetic turf, with tire crumbs on the sidelines.

The Tire Crumb Cancer List (CSN, Jan 16) keeps growing, Alderman said. As of January there were 203 athletes who have played on synthetic turf and reported cancers to Amy Griffin, University of Washington soccer coach. Over 60 percent have blood cancers. There are 32 more cancers among soccer players and 12 more cancers among goalkeepers than were reported in July 2015.

According to Alderman, there are now reported 159 cancers among soccer players and 97 of those with cancer are goalkeepers. Goalkeepers are the most heavily exposed players to the crumb rubber infill on a soccer team.

EPA is now saying (Nov. 9, 2015)”new science” is needed to answer questions about turf safety and “existing studies do not comprehensively address the recently raised concerns about children’s health risks from exposures to tire crumb.”

Two members of the Senate Commerce Committee have asked President Barack Obama to initiate a comprehensive federal-led study into the potential health risks posed by the surfaces. In a Jan. 21 letter to the president, Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the possible correlation between crumb rubber and cancer suggested by recent reports warrants further scrutiny.