In United States, several new tests were conducted on crumb rubber sports fields. Carried out in five U.S. cities, the research by Maryland-based Jenkins Environmental Inc. concluded that cancer risk for children who play on synthetic turf fields and crumb rubber playgrounds is negligibly small and won’t pose any threat to players.

The company thoroughly considered an almost $200,000 project to examine how safe the field is. This was requested by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation in Baltimore. Steve Salem, the chief executive of the foundation, asserts he is very confident in the results of the study. He adds that the foundation came up with the initiative to carry out thorough researches on cancer risk of crumb rubber to make sure it won’t affect kids’ health. The organization funded construction of all 5 fields which were tested.

At Everett ballfield, installation of synthetic turf was completed in 2014. The construction was funded by the Ripken Foundation, Snohomish County Parks and Recreation and Everett Community College. Now, the softball team of the college plays on the field.

Other fields tested were located in Newport News (Virginia), Baltimore (Maryland), Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) and Hartford (Connecticut). In June 2015, the Ripken foundation announced it would fund testing of its sports fields.

Salem asserts that before the testing results were released, the organization expressed its commitment to safeguard the players’ health and thus remove the material on all of its fields across the U.S. in case the study shows there is risk of cancer.

The decision to test the fields was made due to the growing concern over the safety of synthetic turf fields in America. Tire recyclers supply sports fields with crumb rubber used as a filler to prevent wear of synthetic grass. Tiny crumb rubber particles may be accidentally inhaled or contact with players’ skin.

Some time ago, Amy Griffin, a soccer coach at the University of Washington, composed a list of 53 soccer players who were diagnosed with cancer, such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, after playing on the artificial turf.

After Austen Everett, a goalkeeper who trained with Griffin, died from cancer in 2012 at the age of 25, the Edmonds City Council temporarily banned installation of crumb rubber on publicly owned athletic fields.

The Maryland firm’s study is the second study carried out in 2017 which concluded that crumb rubber in artificial turf is safe for children to play on. In January 2017, a study by state Department of Health found no evidence that playing on crumb rubber sports fields caused soccer players to get cancer. Currently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission conduct a national investigation of the possible health effects of playing on crumb rubber fields. Notwithstanding, an environmental scientist Michele Twilley who worked on the study by the Ripken foundation has her own opinion about crumb rubber fields.

In the study which commenced in 2015, scientists tested crumb rubber from the sports fields, the soil beneath them and the air around them. As a result, 92 chemicals, heavy metals and compounds were detected and then evaluated according to the EPA safety standards. Concentrations of lead, mercury, cadmium and two other contaminants were below Consumer Product Safety Commission limits.

Michael Cirri, the president of the Maryland firm which wrote the study claims that conclusions of the study are 100% reliable and that all the results are supported by the data gathered in the process of the study. In addition, the study notes that some types of cancer are typical for certain age and that 4 out of 10 people in United States are diagnosed with cancer once in their lifetime.

The Ripken foundation is going to continue utilizing crumb rubber to build 25 new artificial turf fields throughout United States, as long as there are no local bans on the product.

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