English FA insist artificial pitches are safe after cancer claims

Former NHS boss Nigel Maguire suggests 3G pitches may have contributed to son’s illness

The English FA have insisted 3G ‘rubber crumb’ pitches are safe. Photograph: Getty

The English FA have insisted 3G ‘rubber crumb’ pitches are safe. Photograph: Getty

 

The Football Association insists it is happy that research shows artificial pitches are “safe” and do not pose a health risk to those who play on them.

The safety of artificial surfaces was brought back under the public spotlight this week when a former National Health Service boss claimed rubber pellets, used to give pitches more bounce, contributed to his son’s cancer.

Nigel Maguire said his 18-year-old son Lewis has Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to the ‘crumb rubber’.

“Lewis would be training on this stuff once or twice a week for four or five years, and he would come back telling me how he swallowed a lot of it, how it got into his eyes, and in cuts and grazes,” Maguire told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The industry turns around and categorically says that it’s perfectly fine.

They’ve done the research, ‘we have tested it for emissions for any gasses that come off it and there are none’. That’s fine. However, there is no research that I can find and I’ve scanned and scanned that says actually if you ingest this, if you rub this stuff into your wounds that contain these known carcinogens, there is no effect.

“I’m asking for similar review to be undertaken by our government to look at the available evidence, to commission research and look at the health impact.”

As part of a £260million drive to improve grassroots participation in football, the FA announced last year that it wanted to install state-of-the-art ‘4G’ (fourth generation) pitches in 30 “city hubs” across England.

English football’s governing body examined many studies on artificial surfaces from the University of California and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute — among others — before sanctioning the investment.

And the FA is satisfied that the pitches are “safe”.

An FA spokesperson said: “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.”

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