CHICAGO (CBS) – A new suburban indoor recreation center opened to great fanfare late last year. But, as 2 Investigator Brad Edwards discovered, some parents are refusing to allow their kids to play on the center’s turf field because of what it contains.
The taxpayer-funded LoVerde Sports and Recreation Center in Niles opened last fall. The 70,000-square-foot building includes a gymnasium, dance studio, indoor soccer field and more.
The crumb rubber turf field is what’s behind the controversy. It’s made from recycled tires, which contain potentially cancer-causing materials.
There have been reports of athletes who have developed cancer after playing on crumb rubber fields, but it hasn’t been proven the field caused their illness.
Amid concerns over crumb rubber’s safety, the Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to determine if the fields are safe. That review is ongoing.
Even as the EPA review continues, soccer mom Leslie Billings says she won’t allow her two children to play on the Niles field.
“When you have a product like crumb rubber – you don’t just take a bunch of it, dump it in your facility [and] invite parents to put their kids on it,” she says.
A year before the center’s completion, in late 2017, Billings emailed Niles officials about the field and was told crumb rubber would not be used.
But the district installed it anyway, at a cost of $131,000.
“I was simply disappointed,” Billings says.
In a statement, Niles Park Board President Patrick Byrne says, “The safety and well-being of the children and athletes who use our fields is our top priority. We expect to meet as soon as possible to determine the best and most expeditious course of action to respond to this information and to protect the safety of the children and athletes who use our fields.