BAY AREA, Calif. (KTVU) - A bill calling for new studies examining the safety of athletic fields made from recycled tires gained approval in the State Senate Environmental Quality Committee Wednesday. The bill passed 5-0.
It's the latest twist in an investigation KTVU has been following for months.
In December, KTVU's Melanie Woodrow began looking into health concerns surrounding crumb rubber fields. Her investigation was featured on the Dr. Oz show.
Now one local family is wondering whether a synthetic turf field made from recycled tires caused their daughter's thyroid cancer.
Delaney Frye knows what it feels like to be the last line of defense.
"It's constant adrenaline," said Delaney.
But the award winning goal keeper was defenseless to her greatest opponent off the field.
At 15 years old, while Delaney was having an operation on a salivary gland, doctors discovered she had thyroid cancer.
"It was pretty hard especially when she had to wake up from surgery and you had to tell her that she had cancer," said Cheryl Frye, Delaney's mom.
"I started balling immediately," said Delaney.
Delaney's thyroid cancer was a mystery to the family until one day, when an unexpected phone call provided a clue. University of Washington soccer coach Amy Griffin tracked down the Frye family. Griffin was compiling a list of athletes with cancer. Mostly soccer players, nearly all goal keepers
"It was kind of like wow I'm not the only soccer player that this has happened to," said Delaney.
They all had one thing in common. They all played on turf fields made from recycled tires.
"Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I spent since I was 7 years old on this field," said Delaney.
With each dive, each goal thwarted, Delaney says she swallowed the turf.
"Probably half a teaspoon per game," said Delaney.
She estimates she's played more than a thousand games.
Anecdotal stories like Delaney's are the reason State Senator Jerry Hill sponsored a bill calling for new research of crumb rubber synthetic turf.
The hotly debated bill passed committee 5-0.
So far no scientific study has definitively linked crumb rubber to cancer but the studies have only looked at a few fields and no study has examined chronic ingestion as a route of exposure.
It's something that even caught Dr. Oz's attention.
"This concerns me a lot because of the anecdotal connections that are being made between cancer and this type of turf," said Dr. Oz.
The show invited KTVU on to talk about 2 Investigates crumb rubber synthetic turf investigation.
"I think it's really good to spread the awareness," said Delaney.
Delaney has found success off the soccer field. She's headed to Southern Oregon University this fall. She's been cancer free for one year.
"That's like the mark of relief," said Delaney.
Despite all she's been through, Delaney says if she had it to do all over again she'd still play soccer.
"Because I met lifetime friends and family through it."
She's a goalkeeper at heart who never lost sight of what matters most. "I don't regret it for a second."
If the bill passes, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment would have two years to conduct the new study.
During that time, no new construction of crumb rubber fields would be allowed by schools or local governments, unless a bid specification included one non-waste tire alternative, had one estimate from a non-waste tire company and allowed for a public hearing with public comment.
The bill will be heard in the appropriations committee in April.