Concerns about carcinogens used on some synthetic turf fields have Chartiers Valley officials debating whether to replace the high school stadium surface.
Last week, CV’s Board of Education watched an ESPN report about cancer cases among soccer players who competed on fields that use material from recycled tires to provide cushioning and support.
It’s called crumb rubber—the little black granules that get kicked up and can stick to your skin if you’re playing soccer or football on synthetic turf. Several analyses have found known carcinogenic agents in crumb rubber, but no studies have found a link between crumb rubber and actual cases of cancer.
However, existing research doesn’t adequately investigate the ways that athletes might be exposed to the chemicals in crumb rubber, Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy told ESPN:
“It’s the exposure for ingestion. And I’ve seen the pictures about the abrasions from some of these fields and whether or not it can get in. Are those beads really entering the body and have an ability to break down and are connected with these types of health consequences? … And it’s worth looking at those issues. Because these are the issues that I don’t believe we have systemically looked at for a long time or ever.”
The ESPN report looks at a list of 158 soccer players nationally who have been diagnosed with cancer after playing on crumb rubber fields. Sixty-three percent of those players were goalkeepers.
Chartiers Valley’s crumb rubber synthetic turf field is 12 years old, with perhaps one more useable year left. A new playing surface would cost about $400,000, according to the Tribune-Review’s Jim Spezialetti:
Superintendent Brian White said the timeline to replace the turf is flexible, but could be done as soon as this summer.
The district will look at other options for a new playing surface, including turf made from sugar cane, according to the Post-Gazette.