NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Kids are back at school now and back out on the field. Many sports teams play on synthetic turf fields. These fields are popular because they have flat surfaces for athletes to play on and they are low maintenance. An analysis by Yale University researchers shows that these fields may not be as safe as once thought, however. Environment and Human Health, Inc. asked Yale University to analyze the crushed tires used to cushion those fields and some playgrounds.
“I knew there were heavy metals in them but I never expected 96 chemicals,” said Nancy Alderman, President of EHHI.
Alderman says half of those chemicals have not been tested by the government, so it’s not clear if they’re safe. As far as the other half, some of those chemicals are known to cause cancer and some can irritate people’s eyes, nose and lungs.
“When you’re exposed to more than one low level carcinogen then it becomes very toxic,” said Alderman.
The State of Connecticut has looked into the safety of these fields too. Four state agencies worked together to evaluate the risks of playing on artificial turf fields. The two year investigation found that the fields are not a significant health risk. It also found that they do not release a large amount of toxic vapors or particles.
Alderman isn’t so sure, however. She says the risk is greater at this time of year, since the toxins come out faster in the heat. Kids can breathe in toxic particles and they can be absorbed through the skin. She thinks artificial turf fields shouldn’t be used and that kids are better off playing on the real thing.
“People need to go back to grass,” said Alderman. “Grass is the safest surface for students to play on and that’s what we need to do.”
Rom Reddy, a spokesman for the artificial turf company Sprintfurf, gave News 8 this statement:
“Synthetic turf fields using crumb rubber are safe. More than 75 studies from academic, federal and state government organizations, including the Connecticut Department of Public Health, have all had one thing in common – all have found no connection between these fields and cancer or other health issues. ”
He also says the EHHI report is not a peer-reviewed study and that it isn’t supported by any actual data or evidence.