Editor: As a toxicologist with nearly two decades of experience in human health risk assessment, I believe that there is no scientific reason to make a link between chemicals found in recycled rubber infill in turf fields and any health issues (“Report Finds Crumb Rubber Alternatives More Expensive,” 2/24/17).
There is a substantial body of research already in existence—more than 90 peer-reviewed studies, reports, and evaluations from academics, state health departments, and third parties—that does not find any link between this material and adverse health effects. Just recently, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment released a comprehensive study of 100 different fields concluding that playing on these surfaces is safe, and on Feb. 28, the European Chemicals Agency released its own report and came to a very similar conclusion.
The few contrary studies that have been cited in some media stories generally do not take into account actual exposure to chemicals, and simply rely on the presence of these chemicals as a reason for alarm. Many common products we interact with as part of everyday life contain low levels of chemicals that do not pose a threat, but could if they existed at significantly higher levels. Presence alone does not necessarily equal danger.
Children’s safety should be placed above all else, but when making decisions about installing turf fields that could provide a durable playing surface for hundreds of children, unsubstantiated fears shouldn’t undermine science.
Michael Peterson, Leavenworth, WA
The writer is a board-certified toxicologist at Gradient, an environmental and risk sciences consulting firm. He serves as scientific adviser to the Recycled Rubber Council.