Under increasing pressure from safety advocates and two U.S. Senators, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) said it may take a more active role in studying the potential health risks posed by “crumb rubber turf,” a synthetic turf made from recycled tires and commonly used on athletic fields throughout the U.S.
CPSC regulators have so far turned away from the issue, saying the agency lacks the staff and resources needed to conduct a comprehensive review of the product. The Commission has been following on the sidelines an investigation of crumb rubber products being carried out by California state regulators.
Two U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), have been pushing the CPSC to investigate the crumb rubber turf, voicing concerns that the material could be laden with benthothiazole, butylated hydroxyanisole, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals.
The two Senators warn that children and athletes may become sick from playing on the artificial rubber turf, which simulates real grass and is installed in playgrounds, schools, and sports venues throughout the country. They recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to draw on the resources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal agencies in addition to the CPSC for a “comprehensive study and assessment of the safety” of crumb rubber turf.
Senators Blumenthal and Nelson explained in the letter that there were 153 reported cancer cases involving athletes who spent significant time playing on crumb rubber fields, and that since “millions of children and young athletes play on crumb rubber synthetic surfaces every day, this correlation with cancer cannot be ignored.”
The senators commended statements recently made by CPSC Chair Elliot Kaye in a Florida WFTV 9 television report about the crumb rubber turf. In the interview, Mr. Kaye indicated that the Commission would be spearheading a probe of the potential health risks posed by crumb rubber turf.
Sources: Law360.com and Florida WFTV9
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