Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pallone Calls for Answers from EPA on Safety of Synthetic Turf Fields

Bipartisan Committee Leaders Sent Letter on Heels of Media Reports Questioning Safety of Exposure to Crumb Rubber to Kids

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with a bipartisan group of Committee leaders sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking about the safety of recycled rubber tire crumbs used in synthetic turf fields.   Pallone was joined on the letter by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.  The text of the letter is available HERE

“The reports of children who have blood cancers who have also been playing on fields containing crumb rubber are alarming,” said Congressman Pallone.  “We cannot ignore the chance that children are getting cancer from crumb rubber.  Yet, there are many unanswered questions and insufficient research.  I am glad that my effort to get answers for parents and children has gained bipartisan support, and I am hopeful that EPA’s response will help shine more light on the need for increased research into this potential link.”

There have been concerning reports regarding young athletes who have played on synthetic turf athletic fields containing crumb rubber being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and other blood cancers.  More scientific study is needed to investigate this disconcerting link.  In particular, recent NBC News headlines – “How Safe is the Artificial Turf Field Your Child Plays On?” and “Mom of Goalie Who Died of Cancer Wants Answers on Artificial Turf” – have caused concern among Members about the effects of crumb rubber on humans.

Pallone has been a leader in Congress in his efforts to reveal the potential risks of crumb rubber.  Earlier this month, Pallone urged Committee Republicans to prioritize hearings to examine the safety of turf fields. His statement is available HERE

At a hearing in May, Pallone questioned Elliot Kaye, Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on the risks of crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields.  With Chairman Kaye’s response, Pallone got clarity that a 2008 statement from CPSC that fields filled with crumb rubber are “OK to install, OK to play on” does not reflect the current views of the Commission, and a commitment to continue their work with federal agencies to review the issue. A video of the exchange between Congressman Pallone and Chairman Kaye is available HERE.

Last year, Pallone wrote to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to ask the agency to conduct an official study to examine whether synthetic turf athletic fields increase the risk of lymphoma, leukemia, and other blood cancers. The text of the letter is available HERE.  In the agency’s reply they stated that they are supporting efforts by the CPSC and EPA in this area.

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