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Despite the fact that using recycled and reclaimed materials in building, and renovation, is a rather popular trend, a group of parents in the San Diego Unified School District are anything but excited about the new fields made from recycled tire rubber.
In a lawsuit filed this month by a parents' group called Keep Turf Safe, the San Diego school district is being sued for installing a type of astro-turf known as tire-crumb turf at several schools. The parents allege that the tire-crumb turf is toxic, contains carcinogens, and endangers the health and safety of the school children who play on it.
Cancer Risk and Other Harms Claimed
The lawsuit alleges violations of the California Environmental Air Quality Act (CEQA) for failing to conduct environmental impact analyses, nor notifying the public prior to the installation. The complaint contains allegations that children could potentially ingest the rubber if eating something while on the fields, as well as be exposed to high levels of carcinogens while rolling around and playing on the fields.
The complaint sites to a study which found that youth soccer goalies that played on this type of tire-crumb turf had a much higher incidence of cancer than children who did not play on the fake turf. In addition to the risk of children being exposed to the toxins and carcinogens, the complaint explains that the small rubber pellets can easily break free from the artificial turf and cause environmental harms, or worse, find its way into the waterways.
Injunctions and Mass Toxic Torts
Similarly to the asbestos exposure cases, mass toxic torts, or mass toxic injuries involve groups of individuals who have all suffered injuries or damages as a result of exposure to toxic substances. While this turf war lawsuit isn't necessarily a toxic tort case, it anticipates injuries as a result of exposure to known toxins and is attempting to prevent these types of injuries from ever occurring.
To accomplish that goal, the parents are seeking an injunction to prevent the school district from installing any more tire-crumb turf fields until they come into compliance with CEQA, though it seems the parents to not believe that is possible with the tire-crumb turf.