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Artificial turf fields bear health-related monitoring

While I was in Louisiana shortly after Thanksgiving, I happened to turn on the TV at the hotel where we were staying, and came upon an interesting and somewhat heated discussion about artificial turf fields. The discussion was about fields made up of recycled tires and sneakers and the health concerns regarding children's exposure to those rubber particles. One doctor recommended that all artificial turf athletic fields, or on playgrounds, be torn up as soon as possible. He claimed that the information he had seen showed a danger, especially to children.

One article I read claimed that artificial turf fields allegedly contain organic hydrocarbons with carcinogenic potential. It further stated that the risks have been the subject of some preliminary studies, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty at this point.

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I had heard of knee problems associated with artificial turf fields, and I knew that some parents complained about excessive heat coming off these fields when they began to be installed at our high schools. But I had never heard of any possible carcinogenic dangers. Apparently in 2007, the Environment and Human Health, Inc., received some inquiries about the potential of exposing children to these tire crumbs. So far there has not been clear cut evidence to substantiate claims of possible health concerns to the young, but then I haven't seen the very latest studies either.

I talked to Howard County's Supervisor of Athletics, John Davis, about the potential dangers of our artificial turf fields, specifically due to the carcinogenic qualities of the rubber particles. He said that he was aware of the discussion, but considered it all to be speculation at this point.

One thing I know for certain is that nobody on our Board of Education or other administrative bodies would ever knowingly approve the installation of something that could be detrimental to any human, child or adult. We will just have to wait and see on this one.

DuVall makes good call

I had little reason to watch WNUV's coverage of the Class 4A state football championship game between Anne Arundel's Old Mill High School and Montgomery County's Northwest High School, played this past weekend at M&T Bank Stadium. After all, the last of our remaining Howard County schools, Howard and Glenelg, had already been eliminated in the state semifinals. Still, I decided to watch, primarily because former Wilde Lake head football coach Doug Duvall was part of the broadcasting team along with Bruce Cunningham and Wally Williams. Duvall adds a great deal to the broadcast with his knowledge of the game and the players and coaches. If Doug is doing the telecast, I will watch it and enjoy his comments.

One further point. Of the 12 high schools in Howard County, six made the football playoffs this year. That is great by any measure and a tribute to the type of coaches and kids we have here in this county.

Schumacher honored

Howard Community College athletic director Diane Schumacher will be inducted into her sixth Hall of Fame on Nov. 29. The Massachusetts Amateur Softball Association has recognized Diane for her accomplishments on the pitcher's mound and at the plate. She is one of the most celebrated athletes in the history of fast pitch softball.

If I listed all of her incredible accomplishments, I would need three full pages, so I'll just list her other inductions. She is a member of the American Softball Association National Hall of Fame, the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame as the first American player, male or female, the State of Connecticut ASA Hall of Fame, the Springfield College Hall of Fame and the Cathedral High School Hall of Fame.

What I consider one of her greatest accomplishments began in 1999 when Diane came to Howard Community College as its athletic director. She has raised the interest level in sports at that school, and HCC is now recognized nationally for its athletic program.

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