Tag: consumer safety

A Turf Battle: The Safety Hazards of Synthetic Turf

artificial-turfSpring, along with park visits and soccer games, will return soon. The season will bring the worry parents have about sports safety and playground equipment safety, but there’s an even more concerning safety issues you may not even be aware of. It’s the ground children play on: synthetic turf.

Made from crumb rubber, rubber primarily from recycled tires, synthetic fields contain chemicals, metals, and carcinogens. Manufacturers currently say their fields are safe, the levels of these metals and chemicals are minimal and at safe levels, not posing threats to humans. With more than 11,000 synthetic fields across the country at schools and parks, in addition to many playgrounds that currently utilize crumb rubber, there is a lot of the rubber out there with little conclusive information on the health hazards they pose.

Synthetic fields and rubber filler for playgrounds were supposed to be a solution for the growing used tire problems. It recycled a product that couldn’t naturally decompose and also provided a cheap, long-wear, easy maintenance options for schools and parks. Now, more than anything, the crumb rubber has raised a lot of questions about its safety for those who play in/on it.

A small handful of studies have been conducted regarding the use of synthetic turfs but the studies have not been large enough to concretely determine if there is a risk to health from them. In an interview with the Huffington Post, EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen stated the current existing studies conducted by local, state, and federal government agencies “were not designed, nor were they sufficient in size or scope, to draw conclusions about the safety of all fields across the nation.” With the growing concerns and the lack of research, in 2016 the EPA started new research on recycled tire crumb used in playing fields.

Outside of the limited and ongoing research, multiple people have been informally tracking cancer diagnosis of athletes who regularly played on synthetic fields. Amy Griffin, former goalkeeper for the US National team, has tracked a correlation between artificial fields and cancer diagnosis in more than 200 athletes. Ethan Zohn, a former professional goalkeeper who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, has also tracked more than fifty athletes that once played on synthetic fields who now have cancer. Though the correlation does not equal causation, there are a lot of similarities in their lists that need to be explored further, including the fact that the majority of these athletes have been diagnosed with Lymphoma, outpacing Leukemia, the most common cancer in young adults.

With mounting concerns and lack of research, some school boards and local municipalities have already put a freeze on installation of new crumb fields, with some going as far to remove and replace fields they already had installed. While we wait on new research from the EPA to be completed, we also need to stop and demand more from the manufacturers. The questions now being posed, the concerns about health related safety of the fields, should have been addressed with thorough hazard and risks analysis before being released as a product option.  Their product engineers are the first line to consumer safety.

What do you think? Are you concerned with the hazards of crumb rubber? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.

Additional Reading:
Worries Mount Over Potential Link Between Artificial Turf And Cancer from The Huffington Post
Turf Battle: The Controversy Over Crumb Rubber Playing Fields from CBS Denver
Federal Research on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields from the EPA

Eliminating US Traffic Fatalities: It Is Possible

Car Technology 2What would you say if someone told you there could be zero traffic deaths each year? It might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s not. Many safety advocates are saying it is possible to eliminate most of the 30,000 plus annual highway fatalities in the US.

How is it possible? Speeding up the adoption on new safety technology. Automakers are notoriously known for taking decades to fully integrate existing safety technology into cars on a standard basis. But, if automakers were to safely speed along their adoption process for things that have been around since 2000 like forward-collision warning, rear cameras, lane-departure warning, traffic-jam assist, adaptive cruise control, and more, the aim for Vision Zero could be within reach.

Vision Zero was written into Swedish law in 1997, stating no level of traffic fatalities would be acceptable. They are demanding 100 percent safety on the road. New technology advancements like vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are a part of making Vision Zero a reality.

But even without those technologies that are in the works, and just with what is possible as of 2015, US traffic deaths could be cut by almost 10,000 a year, that is, if these technologies were implemented in all cars on the roadway. That’s where it gets harder. The US has nearly 260 million light vehicles on the road with an average age of 11.5 years. That’s a lot of older cars without new technology and with no financial incentives many consumers won’t or can’t invest in newer, safer technology.

It’s time for consumers, automakers, and lawmakers to step up. It’s time to stop accepting traffic fatalities as a normal. It’s time to demand the safety technology available is implemented in new vehicles. It’s time to demand affordable, safer options for America’s roadways.

Want to read more about the aim for zero roadway fatalities? Read Aiming For Zero, Automotive News for more details on this goal that could become a reality.

What Dangers Are You Facing

Danger AheadImagine you’re out on the green for a round of golf the last nice day of fall. You’re on hole nine, a 400 yard fairway and there is a sand trap at the end of the hole. A sand trap isn’t what you want to see on this nice day but thankfully for you, the sand trap holds no danger to you while on the tee.

The sand trap is a hazard. A “hazard” is an unsafe physical condition that can result in serious injury, death, and/or property destruction. “Risk” is the probability of an undesired risk occurring. Danger is the unacceptable combination of hazard and risk. Even though the sand trap is a hazard, the sand trap is 400 yards away so the risk of your golf ball coming into contact with the hazard while on the tee is very small. Accordingly, there is no danger for your golf game.

However, after you hit the ball from the tee, and the ball gets closer to the sand trap, the risk of the golf ball coming in contact with the hazard increases. As the risk increases, the danger is becoming greater for you the golfer.

As you come very close to the sand trap, the risk increases greatly; accordingly, your danger increases.

The same principles apply for designing safe products and procedures. It is best to eliminate hazards to the extent reasonably possible. When doing so, it eliminates the risk of serious injury and/or death. Accordingly, it eliminates danger.

Safety is a science that analyzes hazards, risks, dangers, and safety engineering alternatives. Hazard and risk analyses are critical and necessary components to determine if products and systems are safe.

As consumers, we assume that designers of products and systems understand these principles. Unfortunately, more times than not, these principles are not followed to prevent serious injury and/or death.

Stay with us as we explore the dangers being overlooked in products and systems. You may be surprised by what you learn.

What is Safety

SafetyAs consumers, do we understand what is safety? Senseless safety slogans such as “be careful,” “drive safely,” or “safety is common sense” have become the safety philosophy of the United States.

Why are the slogans senseless? Because safety is a sophisticated science that analyzes hazards (unsafe physical conditions that can cause injury), risk (probability of an undesired result occurring), and safety alternatives to prevent hazards; thus, eliminating or minimizing the risk of serious injury and/or death.

As defined by Military Standard 882 safety is “Freedom from those conditions that can cause death to personnel, damage to or loss of equipment or property.”

Consider what 99.9 percent safety in the United States would mean:

  • 1 hour of unsafe drinking water per day
  • 12 babies given to the wrong parents each day
  • 2 unsafe landings at O’Hare Airport per day
  • 291 incorrect pacemaker operations per year
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions per year
  • 107 incorrect medical procedures performed daily
  • 268,500 defective tires shipped per year
  • 500 incorrect surgical operations performed each week
  • 19,000 newborn babies dropped at birth by doctors each year

Though only 0.1 percent, seeing the numbers may make you think twice about accepting 99.9 percent safety.

The purpose of this blog is to educate and inform consumers such as yourself about hazards, risks, and safety engineering alternatives that exist and may help eliminate more unsafe instances. Keep connected for topics that may affect or be of interest to you.