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Feds to investigate health risks of synthetic turf used national - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Feds to investigate health risks of synthetic turf used nationally, locally

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"Crumb rubber" is used to fill in artificial turf fields. (KSBY) "Crumb rubber" is used to fill in artificial turf fields. (KSBY)

Under pressure following an NBC News investigation, three government agencies will now look into the health risks of synthetic turf.

It was a year and a half ago, that NBC News first reported on what's called "crumb rubber" and KSBY looked into it locally as well.

"Crumb rubber" is crushed up recycled tires used since the early 2000's to fill in synthetic turf fields. It acts as a cushion for young athletes to prevent injury, but now three government agencies-- the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- will investigate whether crumb rubber does more harm than good saying in part "the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns."

"Look what we're doing to a whole generation of children. Look what we're doing to them," in November 2015, KSBY News talked with Nancy Alderman of "Environmental and Human Health Incorporated." That agency's study found  96 chemicals in crumb rubber, of which half have *never* been tested by the federal government and 12 were known carcinogens.

A KSBY News investigation found this type of artificial turf is used at local school districts. While Santa Maria Joint Union High School District declined to comment, the superintendent of Santa Ynez Union High School District had this to say: "we want to do anything we can to keep the students safe. And the research right now that says these fields are generally safe," said Scott Cory and he's right.

Although the NBC News investigation found a growing number of soccer players - specifically goalies - developing cancer, there is no research linking crumb rubber exposure to cancer and the industry points to dozens of studies as proof that their fields are safe, but now the federal government says more research is needed.

The feds plan to reach out to athletes, parents and synthetic turf industry representatives and draft a report by the end of the year. Industry leaders said they welcome the new research.

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