Blue Ridge Supervisor Calls for Turf Study

Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) has asked the Loudoun County Health Department to test crumb rubber fields in Loudoun for cancer-causing chemicals.

In a letter dated March 29, Buffington asked Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend that his department conduct carcinogen testing on all crumb rubber fields in Loudoun. Eleven public high schools in the county have an artificial turf field with crumb rubber infill; most have two fields.

Buffington has joined county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) in voicing concerns about cancer-causing chemicals in the crumb rubber infill.

“I feel such testing is prudent in order to maintain public trust and facilitate open, honest and well informed debate about the future of crumb rubber infill in Loudoun County,” Buffington said.

Goodfriend has previously briefed the Joint Board of Supervisors/School Board Committee that it is “unlikely” that there is a health risk from crumb rubber; however, he said, if there is a risk associated with crumb rubber, it could be years before it becomes apparent.

[Read about that meeting and Goodfriend’s report here.]

“The number one issue is if it puts kids in harm’s way then we’re not going to do this. The challenge is to prove something is safe and not causing a problem,” he said at that meeting. “I can’t prove the negative at this point that crumb rubber cannot increase the risk of cancer.”

Crumb rubber, which is derived from recycled tires, is the cheapest and most common type of infill for artificial turf athletic fields. The material came under the spotlight when a push for artificial turf fields at four Loudoun high schools with grass fields was met with concerns about the safety of crumb rubber.

[Read about Heritage High School students’ push for turf fields here.]

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