Watchdog group calls for federal investigation into crumb rubber


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The head of the nation’s top consumer safety watchdog group is calling for a multi-agency federal investigation into health hazards allegedly linked to tire crumb rubber artificial turf and playground mulch.

Chairman Elliot Kaye of the Consumer Product Safety Commission says the growing number of cancer cases in children and young adults who were exposed to the recycled rubber surfaces for prolonged periods of time. With the product being used on playgrounds and athletic fields, Elliot says the long term health effects are impacting children of all ages.

“What I hope to see out of this is that all the federal agencies that have jurisdiction, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, will come together and have the type of collaboration that we need to come together,” said Kaye. “Pooling resources and authorities to give parents the answers that they need.”

This comes a week after Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida and Sen. Richard Blumenthal D-Connecticut wrote a letter to President barack Obama calling for a major federal investigation into the rubber surfaces that researcher suggest could be linked to more than 150 cancer cases. A large number of them soccer players. Chairman Kaye says his commission is best suited to investigate playgrounds.

“If there can be this federal effort, this joint effort, then we can do our part to assist in that,” said Kaye. “We can help more on the playground side, so if the other agencies can take the lead on the artificial turf side, that would be the ideal solution.”

Blumenthal said the comments by the chairman is “news” to him but they’re an encouraging step forward in the search for answers.

The topic of crumb rubber fields is sweeping through towns and states across the country with some choosing to ban the product, including in New York City and Los Angeles.

Previously, Kaye said financial restraints would allow the CPSC to only assist in a state investigation in California.

The call for a broadened federal investigation is good news to Jon Damm. The Virginia father and life-long lacrosse player turned coach has started a petition with his wife at seeking to ban anymore of the fields to be constructed in his area of Fairfax County, Virginia.

“We're not going to allow our children to play on these fields,” said Damm. “We need help and the federal government is the only entity that can approach this and help us.”

Damm believes a plant-based turf product is a safer alternative than crumb rubber.