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Friday, Feb. 12, 2016: New round of scrutiny for artificial turf

   Leading off today: Three federal agencies will join forces for an investigation into the increasingly popular -- and controversial -- artificial turf playing fields using crumb rubber infills.

   NBC News reported scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission will test different types of crumb rubber to determine what chemical compounds they contain and whether they are released when a person comes into contact with them.

   "Once we better understand what chemicals are in tire crumb, we will also be able to search existing databases of information to understand the potential health effects of those chemicals," the agencies said in an announcement Friday.

   The announcement said that while "limited studies" to date have not shown a danger, that research does not "comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb."

   The agencies expect to draft a report by the end of the year.

   U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent the Consumer Product Safety Commission a letter in November urging the agency take the lead in an investigation, citing 153 reported cancer cases involving athletes who spent significant time playing on crumb rubber fields. One non-scientific compilation suggests as many as 75 soccer goalies of various ages from across the country have been diagnosed with serious illnesses after significant exposure to the artificial surfaces.

   The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry group, also said it supports the new round of testing.

   "We have consistently said that we support all additional research," the council said in a statement. "At the same time, we strongly reaffirm that the existing studies clearly show that artificial turf fields and playgrounds with crumb rubber infill are safe and have no link to any health issues.

   Boys hockey: Michael Greco goal 45 seconds into overtime gave top-ranked St. Joe's a 3-2 victory over No. 8 Williamsville North in a battle of state-ranked Division 1 teams Thursday.

   St. Joe's ran its winning streak to 16 games before a sellout crowd of 1,850 at Northtown Center.

   Max McArthur and Erich Thurr also scored for St. Joe's. Jared Cummins of Williamsville North tied the game with :28 to go in regulation.

   Girls basketball: A Wednesday game produced a contender for the oddest stat line of the year: All of Indian Lake/Long Lake's points in a 49-17 loss to Minerva/Newcomb came from Becca King.

   Contest winner: Webster Schroeder High School was crowned the 2015-2016 Battle of the Fans Champion by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association on Friday.

   Skaneateles and Cicero-North Syracuse were the other finalists in the NYSPHSAA's third annual contest promoting

fan participation and good sportsmanship.

   "The level of fan support from the Schroeder students has been nothing short of impressive," AD Gary Tirohn said in a statement announcing the results. "It has made our school more of a community and family atmosphere. The student body has rallied around this, not only to support our athletic teams, but to build relationships within our school."

   NYSPHSAA officials will visit the school this spring to present a championship banner.

   Mark your calendar: The fifth annual BCANY Summer Hoops Festival will be held Aug. 5-7 in Johnson City. The BCANY Summer Hoops Festival is for boys and girls entering grades 9-12 in the fall of 2016. Each BCANY chapter from around the state is eligible to field a team, and players must be nominated by their high school coach.

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