Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

QTPA Member Alert |TOXIC TURF? Soccer Coach: “Could artificial turf be causing cancer?”

TOXIC TURF?  Soccer Coach: “Could artificial turf be causing cancer?”

by Jim Novak

This interesting article was in the TPI June 2014 E-Newsletter

When we posted a news report by Gaard Swanson of KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington on TPI’s Facebook page last week we were sure it would generate a great deal of interest. The news report titled, “Soccer coach: Could artificial turf be causing cancer?” has already become the highest shared video ever posted on TPI’s Facebook page.

In the news story, Swanson reports that University of Washington assistant coach Amy Griffin began to raise questions about the material used to make artificial athletic fields. Her “troubling concern” had to do with the crumb rubber from shredded tires that’s used on soccer fields throughout the country and a possible link between the crumb rubber and cancer among soccer players.

What triggered Coach Griffin’s concern was a list she has of 13 players from Washington who have all been diagnosed with rare types of cancer. Of those 13, 11 come from an even smaller pool of players, they are goal keepers. “Everyone says it’s just a coincidence and kind of walks away, but the ratio of goal keepers to field players is 15 to 1, 16 to 2, and I know plenty of goal keepers that have cancers and I don’t know many field players,” Griffin said. Swanson reports that Griffin said she can’t walk away from what she’s discovered, and she’s not alone. Former profes-sional goalie and reality TV star Ethan Zohn, who has twice beaten non-Hodgkins lymphoma, had been keeping his own list, which he has now handed over to Griffin.

Combined, the lists name 27 players with cancer, and 22 of them are goal keepers. Griffin can’t say why goalies are getting cancer, but she wonders if it’s the field turf and the crumb rubber used to make it. She said goalies spend a lot of time on the ground diving for balls, blocking shots and sometimes ingesting the small rubber pellets.

“She said, ‘I just think it’s something with the field turf. I don’t know what it is, but I think there’s something in those black dots,'” Griffin said. But she also knows that feelings and suspicion do not equal evidence.

“The team’s head physician, Dr. John O’Kane, says the concern is valid and has talked with Griffin about the need for scientific and medical research on the effects of crumb
rubber. He said Griffin’s list is only a starting point. The ques-tion you would need to ask is over that same time period, how many goalies are there that haven’t gotten cancer?” O’Kane said. “And until you understand that number, you really can’t interpret that there’s anything particularly dangerous about being a goalie when it comes to cancer.” O’Kane said that kind of research could take years.

Griffin hopes someone is willing to take on the work to provide her with an answer. She said any answer will do. “I would love for it to be disproven or for someone to grab me by the throat and say, ‘These are the facts. This is why it could never be this. This is just happenstance.’ That would be great,” she said.

To see Gaard Swanson’s news report in its entirety visit TPI’s Facebook page:




There are no comments yet

Leave a Comment