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Congressman Cites NBC Report in Calling for Study of Synthetic Turf

Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey cited NBC News reporting in letter to federal agency asking for research on any possible link to blood cancers.

A New Jersey congressman has cited NBC News reporting in calling for a further study of any health risks associated with a form of synthetic turf found on thousands of playing fields across the country.

On Thursday, Rep. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) sent a letter to the acting director of the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry asking for an official study on what effects exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber turf fields might have on athletes. The ATSDR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Crumb rubber has been known to contain carcinogens and chemicals, but there is an astounding lack of information on how this product affects our health," said Rep. Pallone in his letter to Robin Ikeda. "And yet, we send our young kids off to soccer practice and football practice to play on turf fields made of this very substance. … More research must be done to protect the safety of public health."

"I respectfully request that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conduct a study to determine if human exposure to recycled rubber tire crumbs in synthetic turf athletic fields increases the risk of lymphoma, leukemia and other blood cancers."

Rep. Pallone cited Wednesday’s report on “Nightly News,” in which a soccer coach asked for further study of turf and cited a list she had compiled of dozens of U.S. players, most of them goalies, who have contracted cancer. No connection between crumb rubber turf and any health risk has been established. The EPA and the CPSC have conducted studies, but the EPA told NBC News that while the agency welcomes new studies, it does not plan to conduct any new studies of its own.

An industry group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pallone's letter. The industry has previously said that more than a dozen studies show the product is safe, but it is open to more research.

In Depth

-- Hannah Rappleye