A Qualitative Analysis and Quantitative Methodology Used to Examine Crumb Rubber Pellets from Artificial Turf Fields for the Presence of Lead

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University of Washington’s Associate Women’s Head Soccer Coach, Amy Griffin, has created a list of 268 athletes that have been diagnosed with cancer after playing on an artificial turf field at some point in their athletic career. Griffin believes that crumb rubber pellets that are a component of the artificial turf fields could be the reason behind why so many of her past athletes have developed cancer. Numerous investigations have been published in the literature that discuss possible components of crumb rubber pellets that could be carcinogenic to humans. Heavy metals are one of the groups of substances that have been researched in past studies. The purpose of this investigation was to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the amount of lead present in three different samples of crumb rubber pellets collected from various colleges’ artificial turf fields. The three samples were collected from Alfred University’s, Alfred State College’s, and Brockport State College’s athletic fields. The samples were qualitatively analyzed by means of scanning electron microscopy, and quantitatively analyzed by means of flame atomic absorption spectroscopy. Both the quantitative analysis of the Alfred University sample and the qualitative analyses of all three of the three school’s samples showed there to be no lead present within the crumb rubber pellets. Further investigations are warranted, as only a small sample of pellets from the artificial turf fields were analyzed, and the samples did indicate that there were trace amounts of other heavy metals present.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Chemistry, Health, Athletic Training