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Are Your Kids Playing on a Witches’ Brew of Toxins?

Are Your Kids Playing on a Witches’ Brew of Toxins?
February 15
08:57 2017

(HSI) — “No one at this point can convince me that playing on ground-up tires is a healthy option for kids.”

The mom who said that is Jean Bryant. Her son Jack was 14 when he, like so many other teen athletes who played on fields covered with pulverized recycled tires (called “crumb rubber”), was diagnosed with cancer.

If you don’t already know, toddlers, children, teens and young adult athletes all over the U.S. are rolling in, sliding on, breathing in, and getting crumb rubber all over (and inside) their bodies.

And what comes along with those used tires bits is a witches’ brew of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Ones you should be keeping your kids and grandkids a football field away from, not letting them play on a field covered with them.

Those who have been following this story believe that what we don’t know about crumb rubber, and how it may be harming our kids, could fill a book.

No other reason

Most of the awareness of crumb rubber and cancer has come from the hard work of University of Washington soccer coach Amy Griffin.

Years ago, Griffin started noticing how many of her current and former players were being diagnosed with cancer — mostly leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and other blood cancers. And a whole lot of them were goalkeepers who get exposed to a whopping amount of those crumb rubber black dots.

“I’m sure (they) eat it and inhale it,” she said.

Griffin, who has been compiling a list of stricken players for the past three years (it now totals 237), finally was approached by Washington State Health Department officials, who said they were going to do a comprehensive study of the issue.

But the report that the department, along with the University Of Washington School Of Public Health, just released amounts to nothing more than lip service to the industry. That’s right, toxic tire playing fields have their own industry. There’s even a trade association called the Synthetic Turf Council!

Unbelievably, these two health “watchdogs” said that the list Griffin compiled didn’t meet the CDC’s official definition of a “cancer cluster.” Case closed!

To add injury to insult, the Department of Health added a recommendation that everyone should keep playing on these fields to get all the health benefits of exercise. It’s absolutely unbelievable!

Griffin, for one, isn’t giving up. She wants more studies done. And she says that other than the crumb rubber playing fields, she can’t think of any other reason why so many players have come down with cancer. These are young, healthy athletes we’re talking about.

And if you’re wondering what’s in crumb rubber that kids are being exposed to, remember that tires are manufactured with some nasty chemicals like mercury, lead, benzene and arsenic — all compounds that have been linked to cancer.

While the industry would like us to believe that all those toxic substances stay nice and cozy and safely inside the billions of tiny pieces of tires that make up a field, that question has never been answered.

Vasilis Vasiliou, a molecular toxicologist at Yale, is another one demanding answers to these questions, starting with “do these chemicals get into the blood of our kids?” Apparently that’s never been studied, either.

And guess what? Vasiliou, who has two young boys and an 11-year-old daughter, doesn’t let his kids play on artificial turf.

Plenty of cities, towns and even professional athletic clubs have rejected artificial turf, including the Baltimore Ravens. If the Ravens can do it, there’s no reason why your local school or town parks system can’t.

And there are plenty of options out there. Things like coconut fibers, cork, or — remember this one — actual grass.

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