The use of Synthetic turf made with “crumb rubber” on playing fields has become popular due to its water conservation and low maintenance benefits. There are an estimated 12,000 crumb rubber synthetic turf playing fields across the country. Crumb rubber is manufactured from recycled automobile tires that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills. Because tires are made from petroleum products, crumb rubber synthetic turf contains petroleum hydrocarbons, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Increasingly, health concerns have been voiced by parents of children that play on crumb rubber synthetic turf and by the media, public health officials, and athletes.
Therefore, the long standing controversy over whether athletic fields should be covered with grass or synthetic turf has pivoted away from concern over turf toe and dermal abrasion to this more ominous in a disturbing new direction due to uncertainty over whether crumb rubber poses a cancer risk.
Potential litigation may be in the offing for the target of those receiving adverse publicity, including private and public schools and universities that use synthetic turf on playing fields and playgrounds, municipalities, the manufacturers and installers of artificial turf, and the chemical manufacturers whose products, comprise the product.
Objective scientific and public health studies performed to date suggest that there is no basis for legitimate health concerns. Despite these findings, the parents of school-age children continue to express concern for their children’s safety.
Although most health investigators examining the safety of crumb rubber have not found any association between crumb rubber and safety concerns, safety advocacy groups have demanded that crumb rubber turf companies affirmatively prove that their products are safe. Under increasing pressure, municipalities around the country are debating whether the science available to date justifies devoting significant taxpayer resources to replacing existing crumb rubber playing fields.
Our Chemical Exposure Subgroup has addressed claims involving exposure to all manner of petrochemicals. Our group members have defended claims involving allegations of cancer, neurological, reproductive, and immunological claims asserted by plaintiffs in industrial and non-commercial settings for the past two decades. We have defended and tried matters in this area and have acted as national coordinating counsel for matters involving chemical exposure litigation involving petrochemicals, solvents, pesticides, and many other specialty chemicals. Our attorneys have an in depth knowledge of the scientific issues involved in the disease allegations as well as the product chemistry involved. We also are familiar with the leading experts in the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, industrial hygiene, neurology, chemistry, oncology, hematology, and many other disciplines.