I first read about artificial turf in The Forecaster. Like doubtless many others, I am concerned that, although crumb rubber in-fill has only been marketed for about 15 years, a University of Washington soccer coach, Amy Griffin, has identified a disproportionate occurrence of cancers among young soccer players who have played on an in-filled surface.
According to Dr. Joel Forman, a professor of pediatric and preventive medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, quoted in an NBC investigative report, “None (of the studies done so far on artificial turf) are long term, and they only look for concentrations of chemicals and compare it to some sort of standard for what’s considered acceptable.”
The EPA, which initially concluded that there was no risk of health effects, now says that more testing needs to be done. In the meantime, the New York City Parks Department has put a hold on artificial turf projects.
The black rubber bits get in the hair, face, clothing, and cuts of players, and are inhaled. Plastic and vulcanized rubber are both unable to be broken down by microbes. And when broken down into more numerous particles, they become more insidious in their interaction with living systems.
“You’ll eat a peck of dirt before you die” the saying goes, but rubber and plastic aren’t dirt and don’t belong being mixed with it and becoming part of anyone’s diet.