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The Cancer List Keeps Growing Among Athletes on Synthetic Turf

NORTH HAVEN, Conn., June 16, 2015 -- Cancer cases among athletes who have played on synthetic turf fields are being gathered in a ever lengthening list, reports Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals.

Because there is still no government agency collecting data on the cancer cases among athletes who have played for a number of years on synthetic turf fields, the collecting of the cancer data has been left to Amy Griffin, Associate Head Soccer Coach at the University of Washington.

There are now 153 cancer cases reported, and of those, 124 are soccer players with 85 being soccer goalies. Many of them are student athletes.

One would expect the soccer goalies to be the first to be affected because they are the ones who are always diving into the fields and therefore are the most exposed to the carcinogens in the crumb rubber.

The crumb rubber infill is loose and flies up in the faces, eyes and ears of the goalies as they dive for balls. There are 40,000 ground-up rubber tires in each field.

Although there is no conclusive proof that the crumb rubber infill is causing the athletes to get cancer, there is new circumstantial evidence that must be taken seriously.

A recently released study conducted at Yale University and commissioned by Environment and Human Health, Inc. analyzed the chemicals in the rubber tire infill and the toddler playground mulch. They found 96 chemicals in the 14 samples tested. Each sample represented either a different synthetic turf supplier or a different unopened bag of rubber playground mulch.

Of these 96 chemicals found in the Yale study: 47 had no toxicity assessments previously done on them for their health effects. Therefore nothing is known about them.

Of the remaining 49 chemicals many had incomplete toxicity testing and therefore all health effects are not fully known.

However, of those 49, 10 were found to be probable carcinogens.

David Brown, Sc.D. Public Health Toxicologist explained, "Chemicals are usually assessed for their toxicity one chemical at a time. Synergistic effects of being exposed to numerous chemicals at the same time are not known. From the data in this new study, it is reasonable to assume that persons playing on synthetic turf fields with rubber tire infill or toddler playgrounds surfaced with rubber tire mulch are being exposed concurrently to multiple chemicals and multiple carcinogens."

Gaboury Benoit, Ph.D., Yale Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Engineering and lead investigator of the study said, "Not surprisingly, the shredded tires contain a veritable witches' brew of toxic substances. It seems irresponsible to market a hazardous waste as a consumer product."

As well as the 10 carcinogens found, carbon black and carbon black nanoparticles make up to 30 percent of each tire and therefore those substances are also in the rubber tire infill and playground mulch, adding to their toxicity.

"This new study along with the updated cancer figures should give pause to all those schools, towns, and government agencies that have told the public these fields are safe," said Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health, Inc. Exposing toddlers, students and athletes to this many carcinogens, often at the same time, seems like an incredibly irresponsible experiment in children's health and should to come to an end."

Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), is a non-profit organization of physicians, public health professionals dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms. EHHI does not receive any funds from businesses or corporations.

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