A $200,000 testing project to determine the safety of synthetic turf sports fields containing crumb rubber infill found that the likelihood of developing cancer due to contact with the surface is less than one in a million. 

The project, funded by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation of Baltimore, contracted Jenkins Environmental Inc. of Maryland to conduct the test. It was announced in June 2015 and began testing in August 2015. The study concluded May 10.

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The testing was prompted by recent concerns regarding the safety of crumb rubber infill, which has been suggested as a possible cause for high cancer rates in soccer players.

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The foundation undertook a sampling of fields whose construction it has sponsored in five different cities: Baltimore, Everett, Ma., Newport News, Va., Harrisburg, Pa. and Hartford, Conn.

According to chief executive Steve Salem, the foundation was prepared to remove crumb rubber from its fields nationwide, had they found evidence of harmful effects.

Salem told the Herald Net, “Our role in this was to bring the right people together, to come up with the funding to get this done, and make sure the kids were safe.”

Over the course of the study, sports fields utilizing crumb rubber were tested along with the soil underneath and the surrounding air quality.

The results showed concentrations of chemicals and heavy metals in quantities lower than what is allowed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in children’s products.

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Assuming a child that plays on the fields about two hours a day, five days a week, year-round, the study concluded that the likelihood of developing cancer is less than one in a million.

This study’s findings are in agreement with the findings of a review of crumb rubber infill completed in January by the State Department of health.

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The EPA, CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are now collaborating on a national investigation of the possible health effects of the material.

Jenkins Environmental Inc. president Michael Cirri said, “We stand behind our conclusion and have the data to stand behind our conclusion. The analysis in the report is extensive.”

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation plans to continue use of crumb rubber infill in 25 new fields nationwide, using a random sampling system to test the safety of the new installations.

 “We want to make sure the batches coming in meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards,” said Twilley.

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.