The federal government is soon expected to release the results of the first comprehensive study of the health risks associated with “crumb rubber,” a synthetic material made from recycled tires that is used on many soccer fields and playground areas. Many experts are expecting that the study will acknowledge the long-suspected link between crumb rubber and certain types of cancer.
In the 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) began looking for a better way to handle the disposal of 240 million tires that were making their way into landfills every year. By the early 2000s, crumb rubber, which is sometimes referred to as “tire crumb,” started being used at playgrounds and playing fields across the United States. Today, nearly 11,000 American fields and playgrounds contain tire crumb.
Around 2009, several studies were published that suggested a link between exposure to crumb rubber fields and cancer. That same year, Amy Griffin, a soccer coach at the University of Washington, began noticing that many goalies were being diagnosed with lymphoma. This fact may help to establish a link between playing fields and cancer because, during soccer practice and games, goalies hit the ground more often than other players and become covered in the black rubber specks of crumb rubber.
One 2009 study conducted by the EPA found that concentrations of pollutants in crumb rubber were below the level considered harmful. However, the 2009 EPA study only included four sites, and thus, was not considered a comprehensive study. Indeed, that same year, the California Environmental Protection Agency found there was some health risk associated with inhaling the air above synthetic turf. Meanwhile, contemporaneous studies in New York and Connecticut found no significant health risk from crumb rubber. In 2015, Yale University published results of a study finding that crumb rubber contained “probable carcinogens.”
Shortly after the Yale study was released, the federal government began an independent investigation—leading to the current EPA study. Results are scheduled to be released at the end of 2016. The study will focus on the chemical concentration of crumb rubber and a risk assessment will likely follow. The results of this study may help shed light on the harmful effects of crumb rubber and pave the way for individuals to be able to obtain compensation for contracting cancer after being exposed to harmful playground turf.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a serious illness because of contact with crumb rubber, the lawyers at Axler Goldich will tirelessly fight to hold the responsible parties accountable. To speak with one of our knowledgeable lawyers, call us at 866-207-2920 or contact us online today. With offices located in Center City Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients in claims involving toxic torts across the United States.