The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CPSC were tasked by President Barack Obama to conduct a study of synthetic turf/crumb rubber to determine whether the material was harmful to athletes who played on synthetic turf fields with crumb rubber infill.
Near the end of the Obama Administration EPA said that it needed an extended amount of time to further study the matter.
Concerned about the impact of such a delay on the crumb rubber and synthetic turf industries, ISRI staff met with the Acting Chairman of the CPSC to express deep concern about further delay when existing studies of the material suggested that they pose no significant risk to human health or the environment.
ISRI had also spoken to EPA staff several times about the damage to public confidence in synthetic turf with crumb infill as the public and industry await the results of the federal governments study. The fact that approximately one hundred studies all found no significant harm from the use of synthetic turf playing fields was emphasized numerous times in an effort to have EPA accelerate its efforts.
However, recently, the Consumer product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a statement welcoming the industry’s willingness to adopt a voluntary consensus standard for testing surface materials for heavy metals. While the statement has no regulatory impact, it is important towards sending a message to the public about the industry’s commitment to test this material to the U.S. toy standard.
Hopefully, the CPSC statement will allay some of the public’s concerns about this material. ISRI met with the acting CPSC chairman before this statement was issued illustrating the regulatory uncertainty caused by the delay in the federal study. This follows several recent studies indicating a low risk from exposure to the crumb rubber. ISRI has also spoken to EPA several times about the damage to the public confidence from this uncertainty even with nearly 100 existing research studies. Additionally, the budgets for CPSC and EPA have been dramatically curtailed which could have a significant impact on the timely completion of the federal studies.