Beware the hired guns

To the Editor:

Michael Peterson submitted a Letter to the Editor in the May 12 edition of The Martha’s Vineyard Times (“Consider the science”), professing the safety of synthetic turf fields. It is always important to know who is paying the person who is writing. Every time a town of importance has an argument over the safety of synthetic turf fields, the synthetic turf industry brings us either Michael Peterson or Laura Green to refute parents’ fears, and to refute the science that shows the fields can present risks to those who play on them.

The book “Merchants of Doubt” describes how the tobacco industry hired Ph.D.s to claim their tobacco products were safe and thereby create an atmosphere of doubt around the science that showed tobacco was harmful to health. By hiring “merchants of doubt,” the industry was able to postpone tobacco regulations for many years. Other industries have learned from the tobacco industry, and now many are doing the same thing.

Environment and Human Health, Inc., stands by its warnings that synthetic turf fields pose a risk to students and athletes, as does the rubber-tire mulch that is placed in our smallest children’s playgrounds. Having 12 carcinogens in a product cannot be a good thing for anyone’s health, and certainly not our smallest children’s health. The town of Hartford, Conn., has banned crumb rubber and rubber mulch, and the town of Concord has placed a three-year moratorium on those products.

If you knew a product had 12 carcinogens in it, would you use caution? That is what we are asking. Even the Environmental Protection Agency the and Consumer Product Safety Commission will no longer stand by their claims of safety.

Our organization (ehhi.org) is a 10-member, science-based nonprofit organization composed of physicians, public health professionals, and policy experts, dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms.

Nancy Alderman, president
Environment and Human Health, Inc.
North Haven, Conn.