Report claims link between 3G pitches and cancer
By Geraint Hughes, Sky Sports News HQ
Last Updated: 03/02/16 6:31pm
A study in the USA claims there is a link between the use of artificial pitches which contain 'crumb rubber' - made from recycled tyres - and cancer.
The study - by the University of Washington - is not new and the results do not mean that 3G pitches in the UK hold a health risk.
The complete report cannot be made public as it contains personal information of those surveyed, but its conclusions are worrying, according to one of the authors, former US Women's soccer international Amy Griffin.
Griffin found that 200 athletes who use artificial surfaces regularly have developed forms of cancer. Of those 200, 158 were footballers and of those 158, 95 were goalkeepers.
The report went onto highlight 'crumb rubber', which is spread over artificial surfaces to act as a support, to prevent wear and tear and soak up excess water, is made of recycled tyres that can contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals.
Those chemicals, if ingested over a long period of time can cause an increased risk of developing cancer. In the USA, tyres either manufactured domestically or imported can contain chemicals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.
In reply to a request from Sky Sports News HQ about any health concerns over the use of artificial pitches, FIFA - who has conducted two studies in the last decade - replied: "FIFA's Medical Assessment and Research Center (F-MARC) in cooperation with UEFA conducted an analysis of this matter in 2006.
"At that time, the conclusion was clear: the available body of scientific research on this issue did not substantiate the assumption that cancer resulting from exposure to SBR granulate infills in artificial turf could potentially occur.
"Since then, several independent research have been conducted -the latest being from 2015- reaching similar conclusions. FIFA will continue monitoring and analysing any new evidence produced on this matter."
The available body of scientific research... did not substantiate the assumption that cancer resulting from exposure to SBR granulate infills in artificial turf could potentially occur.
Artificial pitches are a common sight in football in the UK and the Football Association are spearheading a campaign for more all-weather facilities.
Guidance from football authorities in the UK say they are constantly monitoring the situation and at this time are assured there is no evidence to suggest any danger.
Sky Sports News HQ are awaiting information from The British Association of Tyre Manufacuturers as to what materials are legally allowed in the manufacture of tyres within the UK and EU.
EU health and safety marks state the presence of mercury and benzene in tyres is not allowed while lead and cadmium are at trace levels of 0.05 per cent and 0.001 per cent - the same restrictions are not in place in the US.
While many experts believe there is no hard evidence to suggest a link between cancer and 'crumb rubber', there is yet to be a comprehensive study on the subject.
A study is under way in California which certainly intends to be more scientifically intense, but it is not due for publication until June 2018.