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U.S. Agencies to Study Link between Artificial Turf and Cancer

Update Date: Feb 15, 2016 10:32 AM EST

Three American agencies will be studying the link between cancer risk and artificial turf, which can be found in playing fields and playgrounds throughout the nation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will be working together on an "action plan" to assess the risks involved with using this type of turf, which is manufactured from recycled tires.

The agencies stated during their announcement that although research-to-date has not found evidence that synthetic turf can cause cancer, the studies that have been conducted did not "comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb."

The agencies hope that their research will clarify the risks involved, especially for athletes who are exposed to the turf almost every day.

"Some of the government's best and brightest scientists are working to identify what is in recycled tire crumb, identify ways in which people may be exposed to it, and determine if it is harmful," CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said reported by NBC News.

The action plan, which will involve 50 federal employees and an initial budget of $2 million, was announced three weeks after senators Bill Nelson from Florida and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut expressed their concerns by asking President Barack Obama to start a comprehensive study.

"Parents and athletes of all ages want and deserve conclusive answers on whether exposure to crumb rubber turf can make one sick," Nelson said. "Combining the resources and expertise of three federal agencies to help find those answers is the right thing to do."

The senators had cited research from the University of Washington where a soccer coach reported 153 cancer cases in athletes who had high levels of exposure to rubber turf. The OC Register reported that the number of cancer cases in athletes across the country is over 200. About half of the cases involve soccer players.

The Synthetic Turf Council expressed its support of the study. It released this statement:

"We have consistently said that we support all additional research. At the same time, we strongly reaffirm that the existing studies clearly show that artificial turf fields and playgrounds with crumb rubber infill are safe and have no link to any health issues. We hope the federal government's involvement, which we have been encouraging for years, will settle this matter once and for all, put parents' minds at ease, and validate past and recent due diligence by public officials."

The agencies hope to have a report drafted before the end of the year.

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