Fears grow over link between cancer, turf pitches

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A parent in England has linked his teenage son suffering from cancer with playing soccer on artificial turf.

Speaking to the BBC, Nigel Maguire has raised concerns after his son, Lewis, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma following years spent playing on synthetic pitches.

The former National Health Service manager claims that the rubber pellets impacted his son’s health and wants a review into the damage that can be done if you swallow the rubber pellets or if they rub against open wounds.

In turns out these concerns are being felt on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, as just last week three federal agencies opened up investigations into artificial turf.

More here from NBC News:

Three federal agencies are teaming up to investigate the safety of crumb rubber artificial turf used in playing fields and playground all across the country — the subject of a series of NBC News reports.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an “action plan” on Friday to answer questions raised about synthetic turf made from recycled tires and possible risks for young athletes.

“Some of the government’s best and brightest scientists are working to identify what is in recycled tire crumb, identify ways in which people may be exposed to it, and determine if it is harmful,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said.

Most of us will be familiar with the “crumb rubber turf” and it is those little pieces of black rubber which seem to get everywhere that is at the center of this concern.

There have been studies into the materials used in artificial turf  — most notably by the University of California and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute — which have shown no links to cancer and the English FA insist it is safe to play on the turf pitches.

However, earlier this month a report in the Daily Mail suggested that a growing number of youth soccer players in the U.S. have been diagnosed with cancer (over 60 percent of which are goalkeepers) due to the crumb rubber turf and the toxic chemicals which are linked with the materials used to make the pitches. Moreover, the state of California is currently investigating — for the third time — the safety of such pitches but the report on their findings is not due until 2018.

The English FA want to install plenty of the state-of-art 3G and 4G pitches across 30 cities in the UK, and a spokesperson for the FA told the Press Association that they are satisfied with the safety of the surface.

“The numerous scientific studies conducted by government agencies around the world, and undertaken by independent experts have all validated the human health and environmental safety of 3G pitches and crumb rubber.

“The FA adheres to the latest independent evidence which indicates that 3G pitches in the UK which are built to industry-standard specifications are safe.”