After an NBC News report alleged that black rubber “dots” used in artificial sports fields might be causing cancer, Burien’s Kennedy Catholic High School on Monday announced that it will utilize a different material in its new William F. Eisiminger Field. The new field, which will open with a football game on Thursday, Oct. 23, will utilize “a cutting edge product called Nike Grind â€” which is simply ground up tennis shoe soles provided by the Nike Corporation,” according to a statement issued by the school on Monday, Oct. 13. According to the NBC report, “38 American soccer players â€“ 34 of them goalies … have been diagnosed with cancer. At least a dozen played in Washington, but the geographic spread is nationwide. Blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia dominate the list.” These rubber “dots” that might be causing illnesses are “made out of synthetic fibers and scrap tire — which can contain benzene, carbon black and lead, among other substances,” but have “not been adequately tested. Few studies have measured the risk of ingesting crumb rubber orally, for example,” NBC said. Kennedy announced that it will not be using these black rubber “dots.” “Kennedy Catholicâ€™s field will be one of only a few nationwide to feature this recycled material (“Nike Grind”) and the only known high school in Washington,” the school said. “Because we had a small window of time before the field opening, we felt this change was the most conservative and sound decision when facing limited information beyond the news report.” It is unknown what specific ingredients are used in the Nike Grind fill or if there are any health concerns associated with that (to learn more, visit Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe website). Here’s the full text of the email sent out by Kennedy:
Dear Kennedy Catholic Community, In just over a week, we will play our first ever home football game on our very own William F. Eisiminger Field. It is a very exciting time to be a Lancer! Last week, NBC News released a story about an alleged health risk from the crumb rubber fill installed in artificial turf fields across the country. This material is made from ground up recycled tires. The news story highlights a number of soccer players across the country undergoing cancer treatment. Though no formal research has linked cancer to artificial turf, questions have arisen about the safety of the athletes who play on the tens of thousands of parks, schools and playgrounds across the country. We appreciate the feedback and concerns we have heard from some of you as we were just days away from installing crumb rubber fill â€” the final step of the installation process on our own field. Because the news is still breaking, and it will inevitably take some time for all the scientific testing to be completed and reviewed, we have decided to make a bold move as a school to prevent any unnecessary risk to our student athletes. We are replacing the black rubber fill with a cutting edge product called Nike Grind â€” which is simply ground up tennis shoe soles provided by the Nike Corporation. Kennedy Catholicâ€™s field will be one of only a few nationwide to feature this recycled material and the only known high school in Washington. Because we had a small window of time before the field opening, we felt this change was the most conservative and sound decision when facing limited information beyond the news report. To learn more about Nike Grind, visit their Reuse-A-Shoe website. In addition to the above precautionary design component, Kennedy Catholicâ€™s field also features a Brock surface below the turf. Brock is a padding surface specifically engineered to increase safety and sustainability of an artificial turf. Brock reduces concussion and sprain risk by acting as a shock pad. Our school will be one of only a handful of high schools nationwide to feature a Brock Powerbase pad. As demonstrated by the Nike Grind and Brock Powerbase features of Eisiminger Field, our first priority is student athlete safety. The well-being of our athletes now and in the feature drove every decision we made about design, equipment, and material use. Thank you for your continued support of our school and our athletic program. If you have any questions about these products or the field in general, please contact Amy Hall. Sincerely, Mike Prato President]]>
This shows a real commitment on the part of Kennedy given the concerns surrounding ground up tires. It is unfortunate however that not much more is known (or at least available) regarding “nike grind.” It all demonstrates the challenges and burdens placed on communities/parents/institutions to try and do their best to make decisions regarding safety when we don’t have overriding laws that ensure products are safe BEFORE they enter the marketplace (such as they do in the EU). I hope we get lucky with the nike grind!
Thank you for sound judgment in favor of protecting those kids who play on field, their health is first of course, and what relief that your school demonstrates this priority. Never worth taking chances! Health risks are already so plentiful all around us, let’s keep safety in first place especially for kids. Sound judgment means avoid such material rather than wait for some studies to prove actual harm caused! Way to go Kennedy staff
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