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Concerns grow over crumb rubber turf safety (14-10-2015)


KARE MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. – Growing controversy over the safety of artificial turf filled with recycled rubber pellets is giving some Minnesotans second thoughts about using it.  

For many young athletes, soccer is a year-round sport, but this year Mounds View High School freshman Jolie Deuel is taking the winter off.

"Once you are aware of it, it`s hard to look the other way," said Dan Deuel, Jolie`s father. "We saw the NBC News story last fall, and my wife and I almost got sick to our stomach watching it."

Over the last year, NBC News aired a series of reports citing more than 60 soccer players—many of them goalies—stricken with cancer and questioning if crumb rubber artificial turf caused the illnesses.

There is no study to date that directly links crumb rubber turf to cancer, according to the report.

The little rubber pellets used as infill for the turf are made of shredded tires, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency, have been found to contain mercury, lead, benzene, and arsenic, among other hazardous chemicals.

"This stuff is too toxic for landfills yet we are putting it on kids` fields. "There`s something wrong with that," said Deuel.

This summer, Deuel and a group of other parents created a website called Ban Toxic Turf and approached school district officials with concerns over Mounds View High School`s crumb rubber turf field.

Deuel says he was pleased to find out the district was already researching and considering alternative options to crumb rubber.

"We did get close to that 12-year mark, and it was time to replace the field," said Bob Madison, activities director at Mounds View H.S. "There`s been a number of conversations regarding crumb rubber. There are studies that will say crumb rubber is perfectly safe and others that have concerns along with them. We as a community decided to take ourselves out of that conversation and go with a different product."

Ultimately, the district decided to install a new field with a plastic alternative to crumb rubber called Thermo Plastic Elastomer (TPE). TPE is an "environmentally inert material" utilized in making heart stents, athletic shoes, and food and beverage containers, according to Target Technologies International, which supplies TPE.

"It`s peace of mind for us for the next ten to twelve years that we won`t be involved in conversations regarding synthetic fields and crumb rubber," said Madison.




(source in Eximbank)
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