Is Artificial Turf Poisoning Our Kids?

An investigative report from NBC News has exposed a stunning fact: It seems that significant numbers of soccer playing kids are being diagnosed with cancer.

Amy Griffin, a soccer coach at the University of Washington, has been tracking health problems among college women soccer players. Coach Griffin has found 38 players – 34 of whom were goalies – who have been diagnosed with cancer. She told NBC News that she believes this is a recent problem, noting, “I’ve coached for 26, 27 years. My first 15 years, I never heard anything about this. All of a sudden it seems to be a stream of kids.”

While a direct link hasn’t been proven, it does raise an alarming question: why would young soccer players, and especially goalies (who spend a lot of time on the ground), suddenly be at risk for cancer? We can’t know for sure…but we do have a theory.

New material in artificial turf may be the culprit

Turf fields today include an “infill” product made of crumb rubber pellets derived from old car tires. We also know that crumb rubber from tires contains a cocktail of cancer causing chemicals including carbon black. When kids play on the turf, these pellets can get on their clothes, bodies, hands, faces and even into their mouths.

What can parents do?

Starting in 2007, CEH has worked to end health hazards from artificial turf. Originally, the problem was too much lead in the product, which was being used to stabilize the pigments. At that time, we created a video (below) showing parents how to manage lead risks when children play on artificial turf. These same practices should also help minimize exposure to chemicals in turf infill.

CEH will continue to fight for you

The good news is that we won legally binding agreements with the major turf companies, and today all new turf is made without added lead. We are now looking into the cancer causing car tires, so that your kids can dive, kick and score safely. Wanna help us? Toss us a couple of bucks for the fight.