EPA to investigate recycled rubber crumb turf

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Saturday, February 13, 2016
FILE - In this May 17, 2009, file photo tiny a man holds bits of ground-up tires, used as filler between blades of artificial grass, on a playing field made of synthetic turf.

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- The Environmental Protection Agency will investigate recycled tire crumbs used as artificial turf after many athletes questioned their safety.

Concerns about recycled tire crumb turf have grown in sports circles, especially for youth soccer. ESPN reported in November 2015 that athletes became steadily more concerned about the safety of rubber crumb as more athletes playing on crumb rubber turf were diagnosed with cancer.

Crumb rubber turf had previously been praised for its efficient recycling; each field uses 20,000 to 30,000 ground up tires according to ESPN. But the long-term effects of exposure are difficult to study, and federal agencies are responding to athletes concerned about their health.

The EPA says that while limited studies exist about the rubber turf and they show no elevated health risks, comprehensive studies are needed to be sure. The agency will work with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.