Ban the use of Crumb Rubber on all synthetic turf athletic fields in the City of Edmonds, WA.

Ban the use of Crumb Rubber on all synthetic turf athletic fields in the City of Edmonds, WA.

June 29, 2015
Petition to
City of Edmonds, WA
Petition Closed
This petition had 273 supporters

Why this petition matters

Started by Laura Johnson


  • Our citizens, athletes, and environment deserve safe, non toxic fields
  • Crumb rubber contains many known carcinogens
  • Non-toxic infill is available and use is growing nationwide

The City of Edmonds is about to get it's first synthetic turf fields. Construction has already started on 2 fields artificial turf fields, at the Former Woodway High School; the current plan is to cover the turf surface with crumb rubbermade from approximately 80,000+ finely shredded recycled used tires! Tires contain known toxins and carcinogens. Infill is added on top of the synthetic turf to enhance play and safety characteristics. Unlike crumb rubber, plant based infill is made from environmentally friendly non-toxic materials, usually cork, coconut fiber, and rice husk combination. In the summer the plant based infill provides an added benefit of reducing surface temperatures on synthetic turf up to 40 degrees. Crumb rubber significantly raises turf temperature.

Our neighbors in Port Orchard and Silverdale, WA just chose plant-based infill. Many other areas of the country, like Portland, Long Beach, Palm Beach, Omaha, and Houston, are seeing the dangers and choosing the safe plant-based alternatives. It has proven to be a successful alternative in over 400 fields world-wide. New York City, Los Angeles, Sweden and Norway ban crumb rubber on athletic fields.

Why knowingly build turf fields with toxic substances without knowing the consequences?  We can have synthetic turf fields for our kids to play on, but like other responsible cities, EDMONDS MUST MAKE THE PRUDENT DECISION TO USE A NON-TOXIC INFILL ON ALL SYNTHETIC TURF FIELDS AND PROTECT HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH.

Please sign this petition in support of a ban on the use of crumb rubber on all athletic fields in the City of Edmonds; then share this petition and spread the word that crumb rubber is a potential health threat and that non-toxic options are available.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission have each issued retractions on their endorsement of crumb rubber safety and are encouraging further safety studies.

Many studies confirm that rumb rubber contains a long list of carcinogens, heavy metals, Phthalates (and other endocrine disruptors) as well as carbon black. Testing by the Environment and Health Human, Inc. (EHHI) found that when was exposed to water, the following chemicals were identified: 

  • 1,3-Butadiene: A carcinogen. Has been linked to Leukemia and cardiovascular diseases. 
  • Benzene: Carcinogen, developmental toxicant, reproductive toxicant. Can cause bone marrow failure, and has been linked to aplastic anemia and acute leukemia.
  • Phthalates: Suspected developmental toxicant, endocrine toxicant, reproductive toxicant. 
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Suspected cardiovascular or blood toxicant, gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, reproductive toxicant, respiratory toxicant. High prenatal exposure to PAH is associated with lower IQ and childhood asthma.
  • Carbon black: Carcinogen, nanoparticles. Has shown to lead to cognitive decline, dementia, ADHD, and decreased I.Q. Carbon black nanoparticles make up to 30 percent of each tire. It’s allowed in manufactured products because it is usually contained in a matrix that prevents it from escaping. Shredded tires crumbs, however, prove to be an exception.

In a study led by the Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the University of Edinburg/MRC Center for Inflammation Research in Scotland, research showed that long, needle-thin carbon nanotubes could lead to lung cancer and inhaling carbon nanotubes could be as harmful as breathing asbestos. The long, thin carbon nanotubes look and behave like asbestos fibres, which have been shown to cause mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the membrane lining the body’s internal organs (particularly the lungs) and can take 30 to 40 years to appear following exposure.  

To date, there has been no comprehensive assessment of the data collected on cancer among athletes exposed to crumb rubber. Cancer cases among athletes (mainly blood related lymphomas and leukemia) who have played on synthetic turf fields are being gathered in a ever lengthening list. There are now 153 cancer cases reported, and of those, 124 are soccer players with 85 being soccer goalies. It is hypothesized that goalies are presenting at a higher/earlier rate because of the nature of play and greater contact with the tires crumbs, through repeated diving for the ball. The rubber is a synthetic mix of dangerous chemicals never meant to be played on. There are multiple levels of exposure-

  • The chemicals are absorbed through simple dermal contact
  • Rubber pieces are swallowed during normal sports play
  • Dust is spread into surrounding areas and tracked into homes
  • Heavy metals in the chemical make-up of the crumb rubber could leach into ground water, streams, and into Puget Sound
  • Athletes, neighbors, and students will inhale VOC’s and tire dust

In a study released June 2015, Yale University and EHHI found that of the 96 chemicals detected in crumb rubber- a little under half have had NO toxicity assessments done on them for their health effects- therefore nothing is known about them. The other half had SOME toxicity testing done on them- but even many of those chemicals had incomplete toxicity testing and therefore all health effects are not fully known. Of the half that have had toxicity assessments, 20% are probable carcinogens. David Brown, Sc.D. Public Health Toxicologist explained, "Chemicals are usually assessed for their toxicity one chemical at a time. Synergistic effects of being exposed to numerous chemicals at the same time are not known." 

Those that support the use of crumb rubber argue that even though crumb rubber contains carcinogens, players only get a limited exposure. The studies thus far all assume this limited exposure position.  But direct experience with the fields conflicts with such hypothesis and assertions. Some players, especially goalies, get repeated and routine exposures to the loose sand like material and the dust that results from its continual degradation. No study has provided adequate assurances of safety and there are so many chemicals of concern with this issue. At some point, we have to recognize that our ability is limited to understand exactly how cancerous materials interact in the human environment.

The Precautionary Principle states "if an action or policy has a suspected risk of harm, in the absence of proof that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof is on those taking the action".  Following this principle, the social responsibility is to protect the public from harm. The new studies, combined the growing list of young athletes with cancer, should be a clear call to stop the use of crumb rubber.  We should not be putting in fields of old tires, and assuming that they are safe. We know there are carcinogens in them. We know there will be exposure. The only question is — and this isn’t a question we should be using kids as guinea pigs to answer — how much is the exposure? 


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