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The Friday night football game at the high school athletic field, the afternoon play date at the playground, and the weekend picnic at the local park – synthetic turfs are growing in popularity and are increasingly likely to be found in our communities. Synthetic turf can be made of ground, or crumb, rubber from recycled tires and the artificial grass, made of nylon or polyethylene that is dyed green. Health concerns have arisen over the use of lead in the dye and the possible effects of carcinogens and other toxins released into the air from the crumb. What exactly are our children coming in contact with and what are the potential health risks to them?

These are exactly the questions I posed to the Environmental Protection Agency – calling on the agency to investigate the possible health and environmental impacts of the synthetic turf, especially the potential danger posed by possible toxins to children and families (to view the letters to the EPA, please click here and here). While I am pleased the agency is creating a working group on the issue, I intend to continue to press the agency to undertake a thorough investigation. Children should not have to be exposed to dangerous chemicals while getting the physical activity that is so essential to their well-being.

For this reason, I am deeply concerned about the recent report on lead in synthetic turf from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unfortunately, there appear to be significant flaws in the study and unresolved issues regarding the health and safety effects of synthetic turf fields. After testing ten samples of synthetic grass from four fields manufactured by the same firm, the agency declared the fields safe – and they only examined the potential lead exposure, not the effect of the crumb rubber in synthetic turf. Yet in the same breath the CPSC also suggested that children wash their hands after playing on the fields and urged voluntary guidelines be developed. Even though this is what we have come to expect from the CPSC – the agency oversaw record toy recalls last year – the agency has a responsibility to conduct trustworthy studies and provide accurate information on product safety. It is a responsibility I intend to hold them to (to view the letter to the CPSC, please click here).

When it comes to the health and well-being of our children, we cannot be too vigilant.

—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3)

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