by Brianna Ford
Although Stuart’s new turf field is an exciting attainment for the school, recent studies are questioning how safe turf is for athletes. Turf is made from pulverized tires, which accounts for the small black pellets that fill thousands of fields, parks and stadiums worldwide. This synthetic material contains carcinogens, which has been linked to causing cancer. If you’re a fall or spring athlete, you probably find these little pieces of rubber in your cleats, socks, all over your body and even on the floor of the laundry room. However, what most young athletes don’t know is that these small pieces of tire can be harmful and cancerous.
NBC news recently wrote an article about a mother mourning the loss of her daughter, who was a former goalie at the University of Miami. Austen Everett was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer that affects the immune system, and died at the age of 25. After her death, Everett’s mother as well as the coach of the University of Washington women’s soccer team, Amy Griffin, began researching carcinogens. They have found sixty eight other cases of goalies that had been diagnosed with cancer, and were later killed by it. Everett had attended a soccer camp run by Griffin, and they kept in touch throughout the years. “I put my hospital gown on as if it said Miami on the front and I walk the halls of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance just as I had imagined I would walk out for the NCAA championships,” said Everett in an essay she wrote during her early stages of cancer.
Many parents and activists believe that the government is not doing enough to test turf’s effects. The goalie is prone to touch the most turf on the field because they are constantly diving as well as getting pellets kicked their way. With all of these cases of young athletes dying due to carcinogens in turf, it seems that there should be more concrete answers on whether turf is actually safe to play on. Congress is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the crumb rubber and determine whether the material is hazardous to young athletes. Critics and supporters of turf have not concurred on whether or not this material should be used, but they have agreed that federal regulators need to take action quickly.
Now that schools nationwide have converted to the turf field, the possibility that it’s giving kids cancer is alarming. Once more studies are done on the effects of turf, it will be easy to see if it is as harmful as it seems. If results show that turf is indeed dangerous, the next step will be figuring out how to extract turf fields from schools everywhere. With $50,000 already spent on Stuart’s turf, the expense of removing these fields would be substantial.
Photo by Olivia Beeman