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Artificial turf linked to cancer being abandoned across the U.S. as citizens demand safe playing fields for children and athletes

Artificial turf

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(NaturalNews) While the artificial turf that is often used for various sporting events across the country has been praised for its apparent ability to help diminish impact injuries and be less of a hassle than tending to ongoing lawn maintenance, it is also being eyed as a cancer-causing health problem.

Ever since an NBC investigative report aired last year, concern over the artificial turf -- which is used in several thousand parks, colleges, schools and professional stadiums countrywide -- has been mounting. At the center of the concern is something called crumb rubber, a material made from pulverized car tires. The synthetic infill layer used in the turf, which often adheres to a person's shoes or cleats, gets under fingernails and caught in hair, is thought to be comprised of harmful carcinogens and chemicals. Therefore, it's no surprise that Seattle, Washington, soccer coach Amy Griffin noted dozens of school athletes developing cancer after crumb rubber exposure. Soccer goalies -- who often are in frequent physical contact with the artificial turf -- were especially prone to developing cancer.

People developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at alarming rates

During the investigative report, the University of Washington coach Griffin explains how, while visiting a couple of female goalies who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a nurse shed light on the synthetic turf's potential health problems. The nurse said to one of the patients, "You're the fourth goalkeeper I've hooked up this week." Later, a player -- chemo needle in arm -- expressed her strong feelings that her cancer was linked to "...those black dots," undoubtedly a reference to the pulverized car tire material she'd been playing on.

When faced with unhealthy items ranging from foods to certain materials, it's no secret that better alternatives often exist. Such is the case with artificial turf; opponents of the synthetic material encourage the use of healthier turf made from mixes of coconut fiber or from cork or rice husks. Turning to these more natural alternatives over the toxic ones currently in place is a no-brainer for those who care about the health of everyone from little children at playgrounds to people who dive on the turf during intense athletic activities. However, more natural alternatives have been met with resistance, its higher cost and the lack of peer-reviewed studies showing artificial turf's harms often cited.

Key people dismiss problems, say more evidence needed to prove artificial turf's health hazards

For example, the Synthetic Turf Council said in a statement that "hundreds of tests and hundreds of pages of reports" have turned up no distinct association between crumb rubber and health issues. "All of that research provides confidence that there is no elevated human health or environmental risk from the ingestion, inhalation or dermal contact with synthetic turf."

Action needs to be taken to change the wait-and-see mentality. How many more people must we see develop cancers or other health conditions linked to black artificial turf particles that continually prod skin, come in contact with cuts and open mouths, and remain nestled under fingernails? How many studies -- which will very likely be skewed anyway -- must we wait for to prove the harms generated by this carcinogenic material? Isn't the fact that athletes are coming down with cancer to the tune of four in one week -- from the same location and playing the same sport on artificial turf -- enough evidence that this stuff needs to be ripped up and replaced immediately?

How you can take action so natural alternatives replace the toxic infill at synthetic turf fields

Please help put an end to the use of artificial turf by signing this Change.org petition. This particular petition focuses on the residents of Loudoun County, Virginia, who have been trying to make playing fields safer for quite some time. It states the following:

Loudoun County has been installing synthetic turf fields at an alarming rate and there are plans for many more including many of our schools. We need your help to raise our voices and concerns to our local supervisors and elected officials to stop the use of this toxic material on the fields our children are playing on! Ask Loudoun County to use safe plant-based infill, not toxic tire infill on all future fields and to replace the existing current toxic materials with the safe alternative.

As this material is banned county by county, awareness and proactive change will hopefully spread so that people throughout the nation can benefit from the good health they rightfully deserve. Be sure to sign this petition today. Every signature counts.

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