Are Artificial Pitches Bad For Your Health?
Artificial 3G pitches have long been at the centre of much controversy. They have undoubtedly been huge in the development of the game. All weather pitches have allowed people to play football regularly in all sorts of weather conditions. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?
Professional footballers often complain that 3G pitches stop the natural flow and play of the game. Players who are used to using grass pitches, will often end up injured after playing on all weather pitches. But is this the only concern surrounding 3G pitches? There have been recent concerns that these pitches can have a much more detrimental effect on your health.
Players who are using these pitches have regularly expressed their worries that it is causing their cancer. A report in the United States found that there could be a link between cancer in 168 different footballers and 3G pitches.
Goalkeeper Lewis Maguire was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and believes that it was caused by the playing surface. Professor Andrew Watterson, who is an environmental health expert from Stirling University, confirmed Maguire’s thoughts.
He said ‘To what extent and what effect carcinogenic compounds may be taken up through inhalation, skin absorption or ingestion and under what conditions remains the big question.’
The rubber crumbs which are used to boost the bounce of the ball contain chemicals and metals which contain carcinogens. The rubber crumb, which is made from recycled car tyres, has been linked to cancer clusters. Tests on samples have shown that there are chemicals, which are linked to poisoning like arsenic, lead and admium. Also found was Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are a highly mutagenic cancer-causing compound.
Amateur goalkeeper Robbie Jones who plays for an amateur team in Cardiff wants 3G pitches to be band. He played for 12 years three times a week on an all-weather pitch and was diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago.
The goalkeeper wants a ban put on more pitches being built. ‘If there is any evidence the stuff could be harmful, there should not be any more built until it is investigated.’
The company Sports and Play Construction Association who represent the artificial pitch industry have stated several times that there is no risk to health using the pitches. They have stated that the rubber crumb is safe to play on.
Richard Murray from Arinite Health and Safety Consultants said ‘It’s a difficult issue because currently there is no proven health concern with regards to the pitches. However, it should definitely be investigated further just to clarify any concerns.’
The pitches are certainly a contentious issue. But until anything is proved, it looks like any problems will long be ignored.