Stephanie Gosk, Hannah Rappleye and Kevin Monahan, NBC News, October 1, 2015
EXCERPTS FROM THE ARTICLE:
"We certainly didn't think that it was harmful because we never questioned what was in it, what the make of it was," Leahy says. "It was just a new surface that had a bit of cushioning."
But by 2008, Leahy and her daughter, Austen Everett, had questions about the synthetic materials. The University of Miami athlete had just been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — and was learning about three other goalies who had also fallen ill.
Everett died from the cancer in 2012. Her grieving mother said it was soon after that, as she found out about even more sick players, that she came to believe that turf was the culprit.
Leahy says that since her daughter's death, she still hasn't gotten enough answers — or action from lawmakers and regulators.
Crumb rubber turf, which is used in thousands of U.S. schools, parks and professional stadiums, is made from pulverized tires — which can contain carcinogens — and green nylon blades of fake grass.
No research has linked crumb or shredded rubber to cancer, and the turf industry says dozens of studies have shown the surface poses no health risk.
Dr. Laura Green, an MIT-educated toxicologist and independent consultant who recently worked for the turf industry, said that the process used to manufacture tires ensures that chemicals and carcinogens remain trapped inside.
"There's zero reason to be concerned that playing on synthetic turf will put your child at risk for cancer," she said. "It's simply not true."
Some parents and activists, however, say there should be more testing and that federal regulators should take a position on its safety.