If you have played a team sport in the last few decades, you will probably recall tediously picking tiny rubber crumbs from the turf field out of your socks. While this is certainly a pain, a recent study warns that these rubber crumbs may be more than just a nuisance.
According to a report from NBC News, three federal agencies have launched an investigation into a possible link between these rubber crumbs and cancer. The EPA, CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission unveiled an “action plan” this Friday that sought to answer some of the most pressing questions about the risks associated with rubber turf crumbs.
The rubber used to provide traction on artificial turf fields usually comes from recycled tires, and many people have raised questions about whether or not this poses risks to the athletes that play on these fields. According to the CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye, “Some of the government’s best and brightest scientists are working to identify what is in recycled tire crumb, identify ways in which people may be exposed to it, and determine if it is harmful.”
So far, research on the health effects of exposure to recycled rubber has been limited, but no clear danger has been found. Researchers are determined to keep looking, however, and hope to “comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.”
The effort to determine whether or not there were real health risks associated with rubber crumbs on turf fields was spearheaded by Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. “Parents and athletes of all ages want and deserve conclusive answers on whether exposure to crumb rubber turf can make one sick,” said Nelson. “Combining the resources and expertise of three federal agencies to help find those answers is the right thing to do.”
It remains unclear where the push to establish a link between the rubber crumbs and cancer originated, but the public is clearly concerned for the health of athletes that uses these fields daily. The federal agencies are working together to have a report written by the end of the year.