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Study: Can Artificial Turf Lead to Cancer?

Study: Can Artificial Turf Lead to Cancer?

How safe are children on artificial turf? A recent investigation finds that there may be a link between the rise of cancer among athletes and the surfaces they play on. 

NBC News conducted investigative report on children's safety when it comes to playing on artificial turf on playgrounds or sports fields, said an article on Philly.com. 

"Artificial turf fields can be found all over the United States as the popular alternative to natural grass fields which require a lot more upkeep; however, the chemicals involved in making the turf has been drawing some concern," the article said.

What concerned investigators the most, the article said, was the "artificial grass that uses infill called crumb rubber made of pieces of old tires."

This, the article said, "is what makes these fields more bouncy, protecting players better from more serious injuries like concussions." The downside, according to the article, is that "when players’ bodies connect with the field, little pieces of the infill fly up and scatter everywhere."

Because different types of tires made from a large variety of materials are used to make the turf, it is hard to pinpoint the particular chemicals that could be causing the increase in cancer rates," said Philly.com. "The EPA lists mercury, lead, benzene and arsenic as well as other chemicals and carcinogens as being the ingredients in tires."

“If you look at the ingredients that go into a car tire, some people take those ingredients and turn them into health concerns, but after the vulcanization process, those ingredients are inert," said David Gill, vice president for marketing of Field Turf, a maker of artificial turf. Field Turf, the article said, "assures its customers that the ways these chemicals are manufactured makes them safe."

According to the article, many scientific studies have been conducted over the last few years, "but no real link has been found between cancer and artificial turf fields."

"Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have done their own studies which indicated that there was no reason to be concerned," the article said. "More recently, however, the EPA told NBC News that 'their studies were limited and that more testing needs to be done.' But apparently we can’t expect them to conduct any future research because they consider the use of artificial turf a 'state and local decision.'"

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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