FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today said he was encouraged by a status report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on recycled tire crumb used in playing fields and playgrounds. Pallone has been a leader in Congress in his efforts to examine the potential risks of crumb rubber, which led to a multi-agency action plan formed last February. The report is attached.
“I am encouraged by the work of numerous federal agencies to better inform the public on the impact of crumb rubber and any potential negative health effects on our children,” said Pallone. “This status report is an important resource and I look forward to the conclusions that the EPA and its partners will reach in the coming months.
“Parents sending their kids off to play and take part in athletics deserve the peace of mind that these surfaces are safe. Since crumb rubber is found in surfaces at schools and stadiums across the country, we need to be confident that there are no negative health effects of crumb rubber, and I’m hopeful this action plan will provide much needed answers about the safety of these fields.”
The agencies are conducting research focusing on evaluating the risk of exposures, identifying the chemical compounds found in crumb rubber, filling important data and knowledge gaps, and engaging stakeholders, such as parents, coaches, athletes, and state agencies to further assess any risks posed. The results of the synthetic turf fields research are expected to be finalized later in 2017.
In recent years 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. Pallone has reiterated that more scientific study is needed to investigate this disconcerting link, and is hopeful that this multi-agency action plan will be able to conclusively determine the safety of crumb rubber.
In October 2015, Pallone led his colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency to examine the safety of crumb rubber. That same month, he also urged Committee Republicans to prioritize hearings to examine the safety of turf fields.
At a hearing in May 2015, Pallone questioned Elliot Kaye, Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on the risks of crumb rubber in synthetic turf fields. Based on Chairman Kaye’s response, Pallone was able to gain 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. He also received a commitment that the CPSC would continue its work with federal agencies to review the issue.
Pallone also wrote to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) 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.