Artificial turf under fire again in youth sports

Artificial turf under fire again in youth sports

The war over artificial turf wages on as the general public still can't decide whether or not the rubber pellets found on youth sports fields are safe. What's it made of? Where does it come from? But, on the most important end of the spectrum, one major question still remains: Does it cause cancer?

A new article from the Los Angeles Times has revisited the controversial topic and reopened the conversation in a big way. David Wharton's feature first focuses on Emily Prince, an athlete attending Vassar College, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Prince remembers, as many athletes from the youth sports level and higher do, those black pellets that dominate artificial turf fields in the name of softness. And, believe it or not, many think the rubber bits may hold the answer to everything. Wharton says:

"Synthetic turf manufacturers say more than 60 studies over the past two decades have shown no elevated health risks associated with their products, but not everyone is convinced. Environmental health advocates worry about a complex brew of chemicals, metals and suspected carcinogens that may be found in crumb rubber. They characterize past research as incomplete."

Although the number of potential cases grow, manufacturers continue to reassure the public that it's merely coincidental. In response, the federal government has put forth plans to study and report their findings on the rubber by the end of 2016. Additionally, Wharton writes, California and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are looking to research the material for the third time, searching mostly for "inhalation, skin contact and the effect weather has on deterioration of the material."

For us, this has long been an issue close to our hearts. Much like last night's entry on banning tobacco from youth sports events, this rings similarly. How can our next generation of athletes excel in youth sports if they have to worry about becoming seriously ill? We highly recommend heading to the Los Angeles Times to read Wharton's full, phenomenal piece -- it's certainly worth your time! But, with no report due soon, we'll likely just have more questions than answers on the topic for the foreseeable future.

The Los Angeles Times -- Are synthetic playing surfaces hazardous to athletes' health? The debate over 'crumb rubber' and cancer

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