An article on the alleged link between long-term exposure to the rubber pellets from artificial turf and incidents of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in soccer players, written by NBC News reporter Hannah Rappleye, has many parents and athletes concerned.
But is there any truth to the claims, or is this all fearmongering that will only serve to get people upset?
As I dug into this issue, I actually found very little corroborating information from FIFA, the United States Soccer Federation or Canadian Soccer Association, or any laboratory or test results that confirmed this supposed link.
Organizations like the Synthetic Turf Council, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the EPA are sticking to their message that the use of the turf is indeed safe, although they also suggest that more testing and investigation is necessary.
Goalies More at Risk
The concern was raised after soccer coach Amy Griffin visited two young female goalies in hospital who were undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A nurse’s comment about having hooked up four female goalies for chemo set Coach Griffin on a quest to find out if there was in fact a reason for these young women all having cancer.
Coach Griffin found 38 American soccer players (34 of whom were goalies) who had been diagnosed with cancer. It is surmised that goalkeepers might be at increased risk because their bodies have the most contact with the artificial turf and run a greater risk of inhaling the small rubber particles or getting them embedded in scrapes and cuts.
Obviously, this data cannot be taken as uncontestable scientific proof of a connection, but it should lead us to wonder, and authorities to at least look into it.
Dr. David Brown was the author of a report published by Environment and Human Health, Inc. in 2007. He is the Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for EHHI, and previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.