Tuesday, November 10, 2015

EPA Misses Congressional Deadline For Artificial Turf Safety Response


EPA Misses Congressional Deadline For Artificial Turf Safety Response

Traffic cop at the intersection of money and sports

A worker displays crumb rubber for a photograph at the Emterra Tire Recycling facility in Brampton, Ontario, Canada,Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
Two weeks ago, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator looking for more information about the safety of crumb rubber fields. The deadline for the response was November 6. 
The EPA failed to adhere to the deadline. On Friday, EPA spokesperson Liz Purchia told NBC News that the agency was “in the process of responding” to the Energy Committee’s list of questions.
After the congressional letter was sent to the EPA, two senators urged federal officials to lead an “independent investigation into the health risks of crumb rubber” turf, a surface made of recycled tires used on playgrounds and athletic fields across the country, according to NBC. The full letter can be seen here.
Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to Chairman Elliot Kaye of the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking the CPSC to “devote additional resources to conclusively determine whether these products can be safely played on by young children and people of all ages.”
In May, Kaye testified before congress regarding the CPSC’s stance on the stance on the safety of artificial turf. His response to representative Pallone is incredible. He basically says that a 2008 report that said crumb rubber used in artificial turf field “is safe” did not mean to convey to parents that the turf fields “were safe to play on.” and that the 2008 report does not reflect the CPSC’s current views. You can watch his testimony below.
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But the CPSC seems to be moving in the opposite direction of what congress and the senate would like. Last week, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals, reported that the CPSC has decided not to enforce toxic lead limits required by law for children’s products in artificial turf playgrounds, and that  the CPSC has been unable to supply a cogent explanation for this action, even in the face of litigation demanding relevant records. 



Kaye’s testimony is consistent with a letter the CPSC sent to senator Elizabeth Warren in July in response to questions the Town of Medway Board of Health regarding crumb rubber in artificial turf. In part, the letter to senator Warren says “the agency is not in a position to comment on the potential health risks from crumb rubber infill on artificial surfaces.”

But the letter also says, “Regarding the Town of Medway Board of Health’s reference to a review study of crumb rubber, in 2013, CPSC staff informed PEER that our Office of Compliance wold undertake a review and determine whether any enforcement action was appropriate regarding the issue. Upon further exploration, Compliance staff concluded, at that time, specific product enforcement was unlikely to be the best option, based upon the need for individual health assessments.”
So what the agency said in 2008 doesn’t mean artificial turf is safe. But the CPSC also won’t say that turf is not safe. And they don’t have, nor are they likely to ever have, enough information to rule on the safety of artificial turf.
The House and Senate need answers.

FULL ARTICLE ON FORBES website: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2015/11/09/epa-misses-congressional-deadline-for-artificial-turf-safety/#421ebe539cb2