Senators ask for comprehensive rubber turf study

Two top Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee have written President Barack Obama, asking him to initiate a comprehensive federal study of the potential health risks of crumb rubber athletic turf and playground surfacing.

“The existing body of knowledge on the safety of crumb rubber is incomplete,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in their Jan. 21 letter to the White House.

“Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that these surfaces may pose serious health risks, including cancer, to individuals who come into frequent contact with them,” Sens. Blumenthal and Nelson said.

The lawmakers cited recent NBC and ESPN news reports about Amy Griffin, a University of Washington soccer coach who began researching instances of cancer among athletes who spent significant amounts of time on crumb rubber playing fields.

Ms. Griffin found 153 cases of cancer among such athletes, according to the senators. Of these, 124 were soccer players — and 85 were goalies, they said.

Last November, Sens. Blumenthal and Nelson asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to conduct an independent investigation of crumb rubber turf.

The CPSC said it would aid the current state investigation of crumb rubber in California, as did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the senators said. They lauded the effort, but said it was not enough.

“We believe that a more comprehensive federal study on this matter — one that draws not only from the public safety expertise of the Consumer Product Safety Commission but from the public health and environmental expertise of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency — would more fully inform the public on any potential health or safety impacts associated with crumb rubber,” they said.