Gymnasts commonly joke that they “ate pit” after landing, which generally involves being submerged into foam pits, Carignan says, and she remembers at times “coming out of the pit and being covered in this film of pit dust.”
Eleven-year-old Katya Olsen has practiced gymnastics since she was two years old. Now in sixth grade, she trains for competitions four hours a day, five days a week at a gym near her home in Arlington, Va. Katyas gym, like most, contains an enormous pit filled with thousands of foam blocks a soft landing for gymnasts learning new tricks.
Now research suggests that young gymnasts may be exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals from ingesting or inhaling dust created by these polyurethane blocks. A small study of collegiate gymnasts detected four to 6.5 times more flame retardants in their blood than in the general U.S. population's.
Our results suggest that the study gymnasts are highly exposed, but its unclear what health risks, if any, they would face as a result of this exposure, said Courtney Carignan, of Dartmouth College, the lead author of the study published online last week in the journal Environmental …