Brussels — ETRA, The European Tyre Recycling Association, has declared that there is a need for all the actors in the artificial turf sector to come together and move to refute allegations about the impact of tyre rubber granulate used in sports fields. In recent years, unfounded claims have been made that recycled tyre rubber has a harmful effect on sports players who come into contacts with the rubber infill – in particular those in goalkeeping roles.
However, despite two decades of research on the subject, funded by industry, the government and public interest groups, there is no empirical research that links tyre rubber to cancer. The USA Environmental Protection Agency lists some 41 independent projects, none of which find any harmful effects of using tyre rubber in sports infill. The Synthetic Turf Association lists another 10 such reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ cites over fifty studies on the issue.
Earlier today, I became aware of an exercise used at cheer practices this summer at East High School. We immediately began taking steps to investigate this issue, and our Department of Safety is supporting Denver Police in this effort. In order to conduct a fair and thorough investigation, we have placed East Principal Andy Mendelsberg, East Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, East Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, East Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis and DPS Deputy General Counsel Michael Hickman on leave. This is standard practice in an investigation of this type. It does not imply or prejudge in any way the actions of the individuals or what the investigation might determine. Please know that we will share the results of the investigation as soon as possible. I want to reiterate in no uncertain terms our commitment to the safety of our students. We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy. We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop. While this investigation is ongoing, we are entirely focused on ensuring our students and staff at East are receiving the supports they need. A senior leader at the school, East Assistant Principal Jason Maclin, will serve as interim principal during this time and we are providing additional counseling for our students and families. With regards to certain videos, I cannot state strongly enough – as the superintendent of the school district and as the father of two high school-aged daughters — that the images and actions depicted are extremely distressing and absolutely contrary to our core values as a public school community.