After a long period of frustration and hand-wringing, the U.S. government is finally responding to the public’s concerns about artificial turf’s potential link to cancer. For some time now, researchers have suspected that dangerous chemicals found in artificial turf are making their way into people’s bodies – especially children – and possibly being correlated to cancer rates. Three agencies will begin an investigation, following a call to action which reached all the way to the White House.
Artificial turf fields made from recycled tires, a material called crumb rubber, have had a suspicious connection to cancer rates in those who play on the fields. Last year the Environmental Protection Agency was called on to respond to growing concerns; they were even given a November deadline by Congress, which they failed to meet. The story began much earlier than that, however, amidst studies arguing a cancer link and a University of Washington women’s soccer coach documenting 153 reported cancer cases in people who had spent extensive time on the field.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Bill Nelson implored the Obama administration to study the potential link and finally got a response, according to Reuters. As a result, the EPA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are conducting an investigation. CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye has said, “I am very pleased that we are joining forces to investigate crumb rubber, as millions of children are exposed to it on playground surfaces and as infill on playing fields.” How fast the teams move is anyone’s guess, but at least there is finally recognition from governmental agencies of this material’s risks.