[No. 142] LA Galaxy soccer club blames artificial turf at Minnesota United for injuries. June 2017.
[No. 141] Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales – Welsh Premier Division’s Merthyr Rugby Football Club players suffer nasty burns and grazes after playing on 3G (“Third Generation”) surface. May 2017.
[No. 140] Comparing health risks of playing on artificial turf versus on natural grass. May 2017.
[No. 139] New Zealand Rugby Sevens players dread returning to the artificial turf surface for the 2018 game in Las Vegas. April 2017.
[No. 138] Stuart Shalat: Artificial turf may truly be bad for kids; here is why. April 2017.
[No. 137] Connecticut Department of Heath’s 2010 “study” does not prove safety of crumb rubber artificial turf fields nor of other rubberized playing surfaces. April 2017.
[No. 136] Olympia, Washington – Department of Health’s artificial turf study under fire for its flaws and limitations. April 2017.
[No. 135] Olympia, Washington – State Department of Health: “Assurances of the safety of artificial turf are limited by lack of adequate information or potential toxicity and exposure.” February 2017.
[No. 134] Amy’s List - update (November 2016) – spread sheet, pie charts and graphs, and online survey information. December 2016.
[No. 133] The Netherlands - Debate over health risks of playing on crumb rubber artificial turf fields garners parliamentary attention. December 2016.
[No. 132] Booker and Fox-Rawlings: Children and athletes play on toxic turf and playgrounds. November 2016.
[No. 131] The Rockwood Files – List of players playing football on synthetic turf and having cancer; temperature recordings in St. Louis area fields. A pictorial montage. November 2016.
[No. 130] Amy’s List - update (October 2016). November 2016.
[No. 129] The Netherlands - More sports injuries occur on artificial turf than on grass. Period! October 2016.
[No. 128] Montreal, Canada - How turf soccer fields are causing devastating injuries to unsuspecting athletes. October 2016.
[No. 127] Zhejiang Province, China – Government sets standards for emission of volatiles in synthetic fields and playgrounds. August 2016.
[No. 126] Beijing, China - After issues with toxicity of crumb rubber now comes evidence of toxicity of the plastic grass blade fiber . July 2016.
[No. 125] Amy’s List (update: June 2016). July 2016.
[No. 124] Could there be a link between substances of concern in artificial turf and heart disease? May 2016.
[No. 123] Amy’s List – an update. (April 2016). May 2016.
[No. 122] There is something rotten in the United Kingdom. March 2016.
[No. 121] Health tips for referees officiating on artificial turf. March 2016.
[No. 120] New Italian study says polycarbon aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and zinc in crumb rubber exceed Italian National Amateur League (LND) limits and the toxicity equivalent of evaporates from crumb rubber is not negligible and represents a major contribution to the total daily intake of PAHs by different routes. February 2016.
[No. 119] Amy's List - an update. February 2016.
[No. 118] Synthetic Turf and Concussion – a Year’s End Review. January 2016.
[No. 117] If playing on artificial turf is safe then why all this techno-fuss?January 2016.
[No. 116] Texas physician says 50% of concussions are caused by artificial turf.January 2016.
[No. 115] NFL: Seven percent of all concussions are caused by heads slamming into the artificial turf. December 2015.
[No. 114] Columbus, Ohio: Lack of artificial turf maintenance endangers athletes’ heath and safety. November 2015.
[No. 113] Chinese news reports eing alarm over link between synthetic playing surfaces and infertility. November 2015.
[No. 112] Sadistic coaches discover the virtue of superheated abrasive qualities of synthetic surfaces. November 2015.
[No. 111] Masterson, New Zealand: Artificial turf sidelines star rugby player, as graze (scrape) leads to infection. October 2015.
[No. 110] Ethan Zohn on crumb rubber and cancer. September 2015.
[No. 109] Amy’s List – update. August 2015.
[No. 108] Are We Treating Women Athletes Like Guinea Pigs? (Woman’s World Cup 2015). July 2015.
[No. 107] Ramona, California: Old artificial turf fields are health hazards. July 2015.
[No. 106] FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup sheds light on the unforgiving nature of artificial turf. July 2015.
[No. 105] David R. Brown, Overview of the risks of synthetic turf fields (4 April 2015). May 2015.
[No. 104] From the looks of it, breathing-in tire dust is perfectly okay: A pictorial testimony. April 2015.
[No. 103] The correlation between certain cancers and crumb rubber infilled artificial turf fields grows stronger (Latest count on Amy Griffin’s list). March 2015.
[No. 102] San Francisco, California: Soccer coach on synthetic turf and chemical sensitivities. February 2015.
[No. 101] Environmental epidemiology program manager at the Utah Health Department, Sam LeFevre, says we are starting to see evidence of long-term health issues relating to fake turf and its ingredients.January 2015.
[No. 100] Faster aging curve among baseball players playing on artificial turf. November 2014.
[No. 99] Cautionary tale from the Hicks twins. November 2014.
[No. 98] U.S. Congressman asks ATSDR conduct an official study to examine what effects exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber may have on athletes who play on turf fields and come into contact with crumb rubber on a regular basis. November 2014.
[No. 97] Amarillo, Texas: Doctors are noticing increase in cancer rate among children; crumb rubber infill on artificial turf fields the culprit? November 2014.
[No. 96]Centennial, Colorado: Mom wonders about artificial turf's cancer risk. November 2014.
[No. 95]Concussion and Artificial Turf. November 2014.
[No. 94] For soccer players artificial turf is an issue of occupational safety and health. October 2014.
[No. 93] Shaginaw: More injuries on turf. August 2014.
[No. 92] Málaga, Spain: Artificial turf gives children electric shock. July 2014.
[No. 91] Major European study calls for precautionary actions on the assessment of chemical mixtures even in cases where individual toxicants are present at seemingly harmless concentrations. July 2014.
[No. 90] Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania: Public health specialist says artificial turf studies do not prove turf safety. July 2014.
[No. 89] More on cancer concerns and artificial turf. June 2014.
[No. 88] Cancer Woes: Does artificial turf cause cancer? May 2014.
[No. 87] Two MSL coaches bemoan playing on artifical turf. March 2014.
[No. 86] New York City: Second Highest paid MLS player shuns artificial turf at Sounders’ and Revolution’s artificial turf fields. October 2013.
[No. 85] Breckenridge, Minnesota: Orthopedic surgeon says “Concussions are also more prevalent on artificial turf.” October 2013.
[No. 84] Sticky turf causes injury to football player’s knee. September 2013.
[No. 83] Dr. Maharam: Turf companies should further study the effects of artificial turf on knee injuries. June 2013.
[No. 82] Kingston, Rhode Island: URI’s kinesiological study of artificial turf is under way. June 2013.
[No. 81] ColumbusOhio: Sports medicine doctor expresses concern, caution over artificial turf. May 2013.
[No. 80] Zambian doctor dissects health issues relating to artificial turf. May 2013.
[No. 79] Hong Kong: Excerpts say ‘keep off artificial turf.’ April 2013.
[No. 78] Not for the squeamish! February 2013.
[No. 77] Another gem from sfparks on You Tube. December 2012.
[No. 76] Dr. Neal ElAttrache on CBS speaking about artificial turf injuries. November 2012.
[No. 75] College Park, Maryland: Another season-ending ACL-injury, artificial turf is suspected. November 2012.
[No. 74] Dr. Susan Buchanan of the University of Illinois at Chicago is concerned about lack of definitive data showing turf fields to be harmless. October 2010.
[No. 73] Buffalo, New York: Blogger suspects artificial turf as source of early-season football injuries. October 2012.
[No. 72] Canadian professional football team looks at turf as a reason for epidemic knee injuries. October 2012.
[No. 71] New study says leg injuries significantly higher on artificial turf than grass. September 2012.
[No. 70] Foxborough, Mass.: Patriots pad the artificial turf in the practice facility. July 2012.
[No. 69] Stanford Study says football knee injuries more likely on artificial turf. May 2012.
[No. 68] Wayland, Mass.: Wellhead Protection Website. February 2012.
[No. 67] Concern in Australia over carcinogens in artificial turf and soft-fall rubber surfaces. February 2012.
[No. 66] Canberra, Australia: Coach says it is crazy for women soccer players to play on artificial turf. January 2012.
[No. 65] A soon-to-be released 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will back the Rooneys’ disdain of artificial turf as unsafe. November 2011.
[No. 64] Laguna Beach, California: High School takes steps to minimize risk of injury to players. September 2011.
[No. 63] Novato, California: Heat exhaustion takes toll on football teams. September 2011.
[No. 62] West Milford, New Jersey: Concession stand is closed pending water testing due to nearby artificial turf field. May 2011.
[No. 61] Laguna Beach, California: Football mom calls out town officials for negligence and indifference. May 2011.
[No. 60] Injuries on Artificial Turf Fields. April 2011.
[No. 59] Chicago, Illinois: Experts tackle the safety of artificial turf fields. April 2011.
No. 58 San Diego, Calif.: Punt returner busts tibia and fibula when cutting back on artificial turf. April 2011.
No. 57 Calcutta, India: Rugby Union opposes artificial turf field for National Games in February. December 2010.
No. 56 What’s your artificial turf field’s G-Max? November 2010.
No. 55 Salt Lake City, Utah: Artificial playing surfaces may add to greater injury in an extended season. October 2010.
No. 54 UCLA’s football players dogged by artificial turf. August 2010.
No 53 MLB: Turf injury reported for Mets’ Reyes. July 2010.
No. 52 Giants players weary about artificial turf at Meadowlands. June 2010.
No. 51 Rays’ outfielder is ordered off the artificial turf. June 2010.
No. 50 Turf Toe – A Primer. June 2010.
No. 49 Eagles safety Marlin Jackson injured on artificial turf. June 2010.
No. 48 The curse of artificial turf visits A Rod’s groin. June 2010.
No. 47 Toronto, Canada: Turf field at Rogers Center claims Italian soccer star. May 2010.
No. 46 Earthquake’s midfielder bothered by back-to-back play on turf, gets rest time. May 2010.
No. 45 Per-team injury rates in the National Football League are 27% higher for games played on artificial turf surface. May 2010
No. 44 UCLA cornerback Sermons breaks leg; turf may have been the culprit. April 2010
No. 43 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL.” March 2010
No. 42 Wayland, Mass.: More injuries on artificial turf. March 2010
No. 41 NFL Injury and Safety Panel: “Injuries are more common on artificial turf.” March 2010
No. 40 More on concussions: The turf factor. February 2010
No. 39 Rugby coach: “artificial turf beats the hell out of you.” February 2010.
No. 38 Hospital for Special Surgery: Cleat/artificial turf combination most likely to result in ACL injury. January 2010.
No. 37 Another NFL career in limbo, turf takes another toll. January 2010.
No. 36 Yes, turf can be an injury-causing hard surface, leading to head injury. January 2010.
No. 35 Want to save your sports career? Get off the artificial turf. January 2010.
No. 34 KPHO (CBS): Athletes & Experts say turf can lead to real pain. January 2010.
No. 33 Turf-boarding, a new form of torture!December 2009.
No. 32 Fractured skull, concussion, turf toe and broken foot – on artificial turf. December 2009.
No. 31 Hospital for Special Surgery Study: Artificial turf surface produces most strain in ACL. October 2009.
No. 30 Seahawks WR back after ACL injury on artificial turf. September 2009.
No. 29 Honolulu, Hawaii: An epidemic of cuts and scrapes from the artificial turf field at UH. September 2009.
No. 28 MSU Study: Infill and fiber spacing in artificial turf fields are factors in lower extremity injuries. August 2009.
No. 27 Red Sox rest up Lowell in advance of play on turf. May 2009.
No. 26 Ouch: Those pesky crumb rubber bits that injure! March 2009.
No. 25 Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players: Is there a connection to playing on artificial turf? Feb 2009.
No. 24 Survey: NFL players prefer natural grass. February 2009.
No. 23 The “sticky turf” syndrome can cause severe ankle injury. January 2009.
No. 22 Ben Roethlisberger credits natural grass for staving off injury. January 2009.
No. 21 Turf is the culprit in NFL pro Mark Jones’s injury. December 2008.
No. 20 Washington, D.C.: Kehoe Field’s turf poses danger to student athletes. October 2008.
No. 19 A primer on turf toe. October 2008.
No. 18 Poughkeepsie, NY: Injuries are common on artificial turf.August 2008.
No. 17 Illinois sports medicine physician explains down side of playing on turf. August 2008.
No. 16 Bill Littlefield, Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports.
No. 15 Jamaican women's u-17 soccer team doctor says turf increases injuries (July 2008).
No. 14 Connection between turf and concussions (July 2008).
No. 13 Orthopedic/sports medicine surgeon says athletes get hurt on turf as often as on grass (June 2008).
No. 12 Synthetic Turf: A Question of Ingestion (a video clip) (June 2008).
No. 11 Protecting users and public with help of informational signs at turf fields (June 2008).
No. 10 South African soccer legend cautions about artificial turf (June 2008).
No. 09 Argonauts' running back injured by turf (June 2008).
No. 08 Footwear technology to reduce injury from turf (May 2008).
No. 07 Is turf especially cruel to female athletes? (April 2008).
No. 06 MLS urged to encourgae natural grass fields. March 2008
No. 01 Editor's Note.
No. 02 Synthetic turf playing fields present unique dangers.
Staph infection at Winchester High School.
No. 04 Field of nightmares.
No. 05 San Francisco Parks Poised To Infect. February 2008. A Pictorial
[No. 142] LA Galaxy soccer club blames artificial turf at Minnesota United for injuries. According to a news story on ESPNFC.com (23 May 2017), “[t]he LA Galaxy blamed the artificial turf at Minnesota United after multiple players were injured during their game at TFC Bank Stadium on Sunday [May 21]. Midfielder Baggio Husidic suffered the worst, breaking his leg while tr[y]ing to slide in the first half. He had to be stretchered off the pitch…. Joao Pedro also tweaked his hamstring in the game, while Jelle Van Damme reported pain in his knee and afterwards blasted the FieldTurf Revolution surface. ‘Honestly, with all respect, this is the worst field I ever played on in this league,’ Van Damme said. ‘It can only cause you injuries. I think soccer needs to be played on grass.’ Minnesota United is playing at the University of Minnesota's football stadium in its first season in MLS while const[r]ucting a soccer-specific stadium that is increasingly unlikely to open before 2019. ‘I don't think the turf helped... and I think that stuff needs to be looked at closer,’ Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo said. ‘The surface doesn't make for a great soccer game and we picked up a pretty nasty injury so we are pretty upset about it.’ ” Source: ESPN staff, “LA Galaxy fault Minnesota United's 'worst field' for injuries on artificial turf,” on ESPNFC.com, 23 May 2017, at http://www.espnfc.com/major-league-soccer/story/3132653/la-galaxy-fault-minnesota-uniteds-worse-field-for-injuries-on-artificial-turf
Martyn Thomas was one of several Merthyr RFC players to suffer severe burns when playing on Sardis Road over the [29-30 March] weekend
[No. 141] Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales – Welsh Premier Division’s Merthyr Rugby Football Club players suffer nasty burns and grazes after playing on 3G (“Third Generation”) surface. According to a news story on WalesOnline (29 March 2017),“[a] A number of Merthyr RFC players suffered nasty burns and grazes after playing on Pontypridd’s 3G surface. RGC’s Welsh Cup semi-final against Merthyr at Pontypridd has caused a huge stir not just in Welsh rugby, but in the world of artificial pitches.
Gradually, 3G pitches have become commonplace in grassroots rugby over the past decade or two, but the debacle at Sardis Road last weekend — when seven players came away with near third degree burns — has thrown up a debate about their use…. Many have raised issues complaining that artificial pitches cause injury…. To be passed fit to host a rugby match, an artificial pitch must have an up-to-date certificate that demonstrates compliance with World Rugby rules. World Rugby Regulation 22 is the law that says every pitch must pass tests to ensure there are no problems with energy-sapping, head impact, skin friction or joints damage. RFU guidelines on artificial pitches say: “There is no way to tell if an AGP (artificial grass pitch) is suitable for contact rugby union simply by looking at it.” Source: Dominic Booth, “The big questions about artificial pitches answered as Sardis Road player burns investigation continues,” on WalesOnline, 29 March 2017, athttp://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/big-questions-artificial-pitches-answered-12812829
In a related story, WalesOnline reported earlier on 28 March 2017 that A number of Merthyr RFC players are expected to be sidelined for [the March 29-30] weekend’s match after picking up severe burns.” This has led to “Sardis Road’s artificial surface [being] under the microscope…. Martyn Thomas was the first to share a picture of the bloody grazes and it later emerged that around seven Merthyr players picked up abrasions….As a result, the players have required antibiotics and some are expected to miss ... Welsh Premiership clash at the Wern which is, ironically, against Pontypridd.” Source: Matthew Southcombe, “Investigation into Sardis Road artificial surface launched after several players suffer gruesome burns,” on WalesOnline, 28 March 2017, at http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/investigation-sardis-road-artificial-surface-12811124
[No. 140] Comparing health risks of playing on artificial turf versus on natural grass. According to an article in The Daily Utah Chronicle (20 April 2017), “[s]cientific advancement is a wonderful thing. We’ve come so far within just the past decade or so, making advancements and innovations that were once thought impossible. Within the realm of sports, scientific achievement is at the forefront. Since these advances, especially in medical science, we are learning more about how to treat injuries — from torn ligaments and concussions to broken bones. One place where the science is questioned heartily is the debate between natural and artificial grass, or better known as turf in the sports realm.” “According to a pair of studies that were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, there are about 4.83 injuries per 1,000 match hours played on artificial turf, and just 2.66 injuries per 1,000 match hours played on grass. So, all things being equal, you are just about twice as likely to get injured playing on turf. When it comes to injuries, while the risk is small, you are still more likely to get hurt playing on turf. That’s because turf is generally stiffer than grass, so there isn’t much give. We also need to take into account that there is generally more friction between shoes and turf than grass, which impacts the body’s muscles and tendons. While injuries typically aren’t serious (except in rare cases), there does seem to be a higher incidence of ankle and lower extremity injuries when playing on turf as compared to grass. Perhaps that is a contributing factor for all the injuries we tend to see in professional sports. But the risk is so small that it makes almost no difference. It simply comes down to what you enjoy playing on. For me, nothing beats the feel and smell of real grass. There’s just something about it that makes the experience more enjoyable.” Source: Jared Walch, “In the Turf War, the Grass is Always Greener, in The Daily Utah Chronicle, 20 April 2017, at http://dailyutahchronicle.com/2017/04/20/turf-war-grass-always-greener/
[No. 139] New Zealand Rugby Sevens players dread returning to the artificial turf surface for the 2018 game in Las Vegas. According to a news report in New Zealand Herald (10 March 2017), “[b]oth New Zealand sevens teams have real concerns about returning to Las Vegas in 2018 after the artificial turf left them with burns, abrasions and infections last weekend [4-5 March 2017].”
“Rugby sevens” is a variety of rugby played by seven players playing seven-minute halves, instead of the usual 15 players playing 40-minute halves. The major international tournament for this sport is the World Rugby Sevens Series, known officially as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series due to sponsorship from banking group HSBC, and is played under the auspices of World Rugby, the body responsible for Rugby Union worldwide. This series is an annual tournament featuring national sevens teams. In the 2015–16 season, the circuit consisted of 10 tournaments held in 10 countries – Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Cape Town (South Africa), Wellington (New Zealand), Sydney (Australia), Las Vegas (United States), Vancouver (Canada), Hong Kong (China), Singapore, Paris (France) and London (United Kingdom).
According to the news report, “[t]he All Black Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens had several walking wounded and resorted to various forms of strapping, plaster, tape and vaseline to try and mitigate the coarse surface at Sam Boyd Stadium. All Black Sevens manager Ross Everiss says there were concerns for the newly laid turf after the 2016 Las Vegas event, but little, if any, improvements appeared to have been made.”
The Sam Boyd Stadium surface was natural grass until 2002, when it was changed to Duraplay, which remained the surface through 2015, when it was changed to another synthetic turf (Sprinturf).
According to the news story, the players New Zealand sevens “were wearing plasters on their legs and arms to try and prevent direct contact and Vaseline on the elbows and knees, but there were more bruises and abrasions from the friction of sliding on the turf. Three of the team were on antibiotics for infections leading into the Vancouver tournament, which affected their ability to train with as much contact early in the week…. While not professing to be an expert on turf management, Everiss felt that the Las Vegas surface had not been brushed properly, with the artificial grass quite flat. He said they would need strong reassurances if the team was to return there in 2018. Coach of the Black Ferns Sevens, who won their tournament in fine style, Allan Bunting was even more direct in his criticism of the turf, saying they should be on grass. ‘It’s plain and simple. Artificial turf is made so groundsmen have an easy job. It’s not for rugby and sevens is never going to be good on it. The (girls) all lost skin, so they had to bandage up,’ Bunting says. Michaela Blyde, who scored seven tries, had heavy strapping on her right leg, and that was not due to a dodgy knee. Many players from other teams wore far more strapping and tape than usual. World Rugby was not willing to pull the pin on Las Vegas at this stage. It is believed that a deal to hold the USA Sevens in the city expires after the 2018 event. A World Rugby spokesman issued this statement: ‘Every effort had been made to mitigate the risk of such abrasions taking place, but very dry and unusually windy conditions over the weekend meant that, despite regular watering, the surface dried out more than we would have liked. This is not ideal and we have set in place an action plan to ensure it cannot happen again. Once we receive full reports from everyone involved, including teams, the host organisers and the venue itself, our artificial turf expert will be sent to the stadium to work out exactly what remedial work needs to be carried out for future tournaments.’” Source: Campbell Burnes, “Rugby sevens teams have major concerns over Las Vegas turf,” in New Zealand Herald, 10 March 2017, at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11815668
[No. 138] Stuart Shalat: Artificial turf may truly be bad for kids; here is why. Professor Stuart Shalat is Director of the Division of Environmental Health at Georgia State University School of Public Health. With an Sc.D. in Epidemiology-Physiology from HarvardSchool of Public Health, and a Sc. M. in Physiology-Occupational Health again from Harvard School of Public Health, Shalat is an expert on pollution and its effect on children’s health. While at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, he taught in the RobertWoodJohnsonMedicalSchool’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine. He has also taught at TexasA&MUniversity, where he was instrumental in developing its School of Public Health, and at YaleUniversity’s School of Public Health. He is a pioneer in the use of robotics to improve estimation of early childhood exposures. For the abstract of his paper on the development of the pre-toddler inhalable particulate environmental robotic (PIPER) sampler, which more effectively measures the exposure of particulate matter in young children ages 6 months to 3 years, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21351766 or here.
The following article – titled “Why artificial turf may truly be bad for kids,” was published in The Conversation accessed on Medical Express, 6 March 2017, at the https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-03-artificial-turf-bad-kids.html(hyperlinks within the excerpt reproduced below have been suppressed – for the links please refer the original source):
If you want to get a soccer mom's attention, bring up the subject of artificial turf, the preferred playing surface for children from pre-K to college – or at least preferred by school boards and parks and recreation departments. From concerns about concussions to cancer, parents have become alarmed by reports in the media of increased injuries and illnesses. And there is the further question of who is responsible for assuring the safety of these fields: the Environmental Protection Agency? The Centers for Disease Control? The Consumer Product Safety Commission?
As an environmental health professor who has examined a variety of environmental problems and as a soccer dad who watched my son play on these fields for years, I think it's worth examining the facts and myths about artificial turf fields and what hazards may or may not be associated with playing on them. Based on studies I have reviewed and conducted, I believe there is a potential health risk, because of the chemicals in tires, which are recycled into crumbs to support the plastic blades of synthetic grass.
Just what is it, anyway? Artificial turf is made up of three major parts: Backing material that will serve to hold the individual blades of artificial grass. The plastic blades themselves. The infill, those tiny black crumbs, that helps support the blades. Various pigments are used to provide the green color of the blades. These can include lead or titanium for the white lines and still other metals for school logos on the field. Those little black crumbs are the problems. Tires can be toxic. Modern tires are a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black – a material made from petroleum – and somewhere between four and 10 gallons of petroleum products. They also contain metals, including cadmium, lead, which is neurotoxic, and zinc. Some of the chemicals in tires, such as dibenzopyrenes, are known carcinogens.Also, in addition to chemicals used in the manufacture of the tire, any chemical the tires were exposed to in their use can become absorbed on the carbon black in the tires.
More to the problem than crumbs. Even though artificial turf does not have to be mowed, why artificial turf may truly be bad for kids it turns out that crabgrass and other weeds can start growing in it. To keep its finely manicured appearance, weedkillers need to be applied, a relatively common practice. Unfortunately, a variety of health concerns have been linked to these products. Also, artificial turf is often treated with biocides, as turf has been associated with increased risk of infections from Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). More commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria, MRSA can occur after skin is scraped or cut, which can occur from sliding on artificial turf. Biocides, however, may have toxic effects of their own. And, they may also contribute to increased resistance of bacteria to the efficacy of these agents.
The list of drawbacks goes on…and on… Fields with artificial turf tend to get far hotter than grass fields. Field surface temperatures can reach as high as 200 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, even with athletic shoes on, children can get burned feet. It is rare, even on a very hot day, that natural grass exceeds half that (100°F). While manufacturers recommend spraying fields with water to keep the temperature down, this improvement can vanish in as little as 20 minutes.
Because it is laid over either concrete or compacted earth, artificial turf is a harder surface than grass. This can increase the risk of injuries, particularly concussions.
The unit used to describe hardness is Gmax. While different numbers have been reported for the Gmax for artificial turf, ranging from the high 60's to over 125, it is important to keep in mind that these numbers are highly dependent on the substrate, temperature, age and maintenance of the field. The key is that the higher the number, the higher the likelihood of concussion.
Can the tire chemicals get into kids? The key question on exposure is: Do these chemicals get into children playing on these fields? While it is true that the tire crumbs are large, it is easy to show that they don't necessarily remain large over the life of the field. In a New Jersey study we employed a robot we call PIPER (Pretoddler Inhalable Particulate Environmental Robotic) to study if there were inhalable exposures from the artificial turf. We showed the tiny particles from the turf can become suspended in air above the field and inhaled by children playing on the field. What has become apparent is that microscopic carbon black particles break off from the crumb rubber and are small enough to be inhalable. Additionally, the blades of grass can also break down into microscopic particles over years of exposure to sunlight and weather, forming a respirable dust. How do these particles get into a child? Think of the "Peanuts" comic strip character Pig Pen, the child always followed around by a visible cloud. The truth is that all children – indeed, all people – have a cloud around them of microscopic particles. This personal micro-environment of dust particles, invisible to the naked eye, is just as real as Pig Pen’s. These small particles and their chemicals can be inhaled or swallowed by a child.
And if so, do they cause illness? A clear answer on whether artificial turf increases the risk of injury or illness is far more challenging. Let's consider the two major concerns with regard to artificial turf: cancer and neurologic effects. The question of cancer and artificial turf gained significant national attention in the U.S. with a series of news stories on NBC Nightly News regarding a cluster of cancers in young women soccer players. A cancer cluster is the appearance of an unusually high rate of cancer in one location in a particular time frame. The story, while dismissed by the turf industry, again resurfaced in the fall of 2015.
Information has continued to accrue on this cancer cluster. While as many as 80 percent of suspected cancer clusters are determined not to be true increases in cancer cases and due only to random chance, the problem is that, without detailed and often expensive scientific investigation, whether it is real or not cannot be determined.
Just recently the Washington State Department of Health issued a report on its study of the reported cancer cluster in these soccer players. Their report found no evidence of a causal effect of playing on artificial turf and cancer. As they acknowledge, that does not mean there is no risk, only that this study did not find one. They also suggested there is still room for broader investigation on this question.
What about the potential risk of neurologic impairment from ingestion or inhalation of any lead present in the turf? The lead can be present in both the blades, as a color pigment for logos and white lines, as well as in the infill crumb rubber. For more information on lead, see my earlier article for The Conversation.
What's the bottom line on safety? While the turf industry says it's safe, we know that tires contain established carcinogens. If we considered only what tires are made of, we would think they should be classified as hazardous waste, though currently EPA classifies tires as municipal waste.
The EPA has been conducting research into the question of toxicity of crumb rubber, but the jury is still out.
There is little question in the mind of many scientists that crumb rubber should not be a first choice material for children to play on. Parents should be able to just enjoy watching their children playing sports and not worry that they are being put unnecessarily at risk.
[No. 137] Connecticut Department of Heath’s 2010 “study” does not prove safety of crumb rubber artificial turf fields nor of other rubberized playing surfaces. In July 2010, Connecticut Department of Health issued a study titled “Human Health Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Fields Based Upon Results from Five Fields in Connecticut” by Gary Ginsberg and Brian Toal of Connecticut Department of Public Health, Program in Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment, Hartford, Connecticut. According to the nonprofit Environment & Human Health, Inc., North Haven, Connecticut (www.ehhi.org), this study which has been touted by synthetic turf (and also rubberized playground) industry as proving the synthetic turf fields are safe. In truth, this was a flawed study from the beginning and in no way shows that these fields are safe. The study, which can be accessed here, actually raises more questions than it answers.
In its analysis of the study, EHHI noted that the study was peer reviewed but not published and includes a short literature review, a toxicity profile on a rubber-related chemical, benzothiazole (BZT), and original research in the form of a human health risk assessment. The objective of this human health risk assessment (HHRA) was to estimate exposures and risks for children - twelve and older - playing on artificial turf fields with crumb rubber infill. To that end, in July 2009, Connecticut field researchers collected air samples from five artificial turf fields.They sampled four outdoor fields and one indoor field.In 2010, Connecticut researchers took this data and analyzed the personal air and stationary air samples to determine their acute or chronic, cancerous or non-cancerous health effects in school-aged children and adults. Results were analyzed for multiple volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and targeted rubber-related and miscellaneous semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs).
According to EHHI’s analysis of the study, the sample data was limited by the plan size, the number of sampling events and the technical difficulties in implementing the collection strategy. Because air sample collections occurred during warm - not hot - weather, exposures due to extreme heat were not addressed.Additionally, the researchers chose to exclude dermal and ingestion exposure routes from their assessment; only inhalation exposures were considered.The human health risk assessment focused on air sample results for multiple VOCs and SVOCs.Exposures to latex, lead or zinc were not part of this health assessment.
Nonetheless, the researchers identified twenty-seven chemicals of potential concern in the air samples they reviewed. Non-cancer risks were assessed for all of these chemicals. Cancer risks were assessed for thirteen chemicals. Acute health risks were developed for fifteen chemicals. They calculated cancer and non-cancer risks for acute and chronic exposures to these chemicals in four possible scenarios - children playing on indoor fields, children playing on outdoor fields, adults playing on indoor fields, and adults playing on outdoor fields.
Clearly, as the researchers found, the sample showed the presence of Benzothiazole (BZT) to be field-related. They expressed uncertainty as to whether several PAHs and VOCS may be field-related. Yet, their conclusion was that cancer risks in all scenarios were slightly above de minimis (negligible) but were higher for children than for adults. They determined there was little concern for chronic, non-cancer risk despite their uncertainty about significantly (two-fold) elevated exposure risks at the indoor field as compared to the outdoor fields, due to air-borne, off-gassed chemicals.They advised adequate ventilation for indoor fields, that outdoor fields should be installed during cooler months, and that any dermal or respiratory allergic reactions experienced on the fields may be a result of the fields and should be reported to physicians and the local health department.
The study found that two VOCs, benzene and methylene chloride, were the greatest contributors to cancer risk in each scenario with additional small contributions by chloromethane, BZT and PAHs. Some doubt was cast upon the presence of benzene and methylene chloride as contributors because they were found only in the air samples collected in personal air monitors. The researchers hypothesized the chemicals were a result of the equipment itself or were exuded by the people wearing the personal air monitors. As for BZT, a rubber-related chemical, it was the only targeted SVOC detected above background levels on both the indoor and outdoor fields.The results for the indoor field were 11.7 times greater than the outdoor results.
EHHI’s analysis also noted the study’s limitations, which were as follows: (1) The study was narrowed to investigate only inhalation exposures to athletes who play on outdoor and indoor artificial turf fields. Dermal and ingestion exposure routes were not considered.Since BZT may be available for skin contact in the crumb rubber infill and rubber dust, the researchers suggested it could cause skin irritations toplayers on the fields. (2) Air samples were collected in warm weather, not on hot summer days when VOCs may off-gas in greater amounts from the crumb rubber infill. (3) The study had a small sample size. Samples were only collected from four outdoor fields and one indoor field. (4) The study’s sampling plan was not fully implemented due to technical difficulties with equipment and environmental conditions.In the case of one field, pesticide spraying took place adjacent to the field on the day samples were collected.On other fields, field air samples were not collected at all heights as planned. (5) Play on the indoor field was for less than twenty five minutes - a much shorter period of time than was called for in the plan.Despite this fact, chemical levels in air samples from this field were the highest collected in the investigation.There was no ventilation on the day samples were collected at this field.No attempt was made to collect more samples when the field was ventilated and during a longer play time.The flawed data was included in the assessment. (6) On all fields sampled there were only two people wearing personal air monitors and two other people on the field.Sampling ranged from less than twenty-five minutes to two hours.This simulation did not reflect real play conditions on a synthetic turf field - it is typical for twenty-two athletes to play for about two hours. (7) The exposure scenario was formulated to assess risk to children average age twelve to adult.Children ages birth to three were not included in this assessment.Therefore, exposure risks remain unknown for infants and toddlers who are present on the sidelines while their siblings practice and play on artificial turf fields. (8) The report recommended that all indoor synthetic turf fields be adequately ventilated.They also recommended that dermal or respiratory allergic reactions suffered on the fields should be reported to physicians and local health departments.
With the aforegoing analysis in mind, it is not hard to agree with EHHI’s conclusion that “[d]espite all the limitations, exclusions, and flawed data, the researchers concluded that all cancer risks were negligible, even though the study noted that cancer risks were found to be slightly higher for children ages twelve and older. The study identified twenty-seven chemicals of potential concern, including thirteen carcinogens - yet they declared the risks were negligible. The study found elevated levels of the chemical BZT which is a serious irritant, yet they declared the fields did not pose any health risk to children. How is this possible?”
The 2010 study as a testament to the safety of crumb rubber playing surfaces raised its ugly head again earlier this year in the context of House Bill 6998 in the Connecticut Legislature. The Bill, titled “An Act concerning the use of tire rubber at municipal and public school playgrounds” seeks to prohibit the installation of ground cover that contains shredded or ground rubber recycled from motor vehicle tires in municipal and public school playgrounds. The bill prohibits, starting October 1, 2017, the installation of crumb rubber ground cover on municipal and public school playgrounds unless a contract for such installation was entered into before July 1, 2017. Under the bill, “crumb rubber” is any material that contains shredded or ground rubber recycled from motor vehicle tires. By law, a ‘municipal playground’ is an outdoor area owned or controlled by any town, city, borough, consolidated town and city, or consolidated town and borough that is designated, dedicated, and customarily used by children for playing, including any such area that contains a swing set, slide, climbing structure, playset, or device or object upon which children play. Playgrounds on school premises (to which the bill’s prohibition also applies) are not considered municipal playgrounds. The bill’s prohibition does not apply to fields or open spaces used primarily for sporting activities (athletic fields).
The opponents of the bill – and the proponents of rubberized playing surfaces - have pointed to the 2010 study as the gospel when it comes to the ‘safety’ of rubberized playgrounds, either poured or mulched.
Sarah Evans, PhD MPH, is a professor of Environmental Medicine & Public Health with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. In a letter addressed to the Legislature’s members of the Committee on Children, dated 1 March 2017, Evans laid out her arguments against the use of 2010 study to also conclude that rubberized surfaces do not pose a heath risk for children. Evans noted that the study “was not designed to assess the safety of recycled rubber playgrounds and makes assumptions about exposure routes in the absence of supporting experimental data. While it contributes to our understanding of chemicals of concern that may be emitted from crumb rubber, the results of this study should not be used to draw conclusions about the safety of recycled rubber playground surfaces for the following reasons: 1. The study does not consider ail potential routes of exposure. … 2.Safety data gaps have been identified by the federal government…. 3. Playground surfaces were not considered.… 4. Exposure to extreme heat is not addressed…. 5. The CT DPH continues to cite uncertainty about safety.” For the full text of the letter, which includes the data in support of Evans’s arguments (points 1-5 above), go here.
[No. 136] Olympia, Washington – Department of Health’s artificial turf study under fire for its flaws and limitations.Richard W. Clapp, DSc, MPH, is Professor Emeritus, Boston University School of Public Health; Adjunct Professor, LowellCenter for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell; former Director, Massachusetts Cancer Registry; former co-Chair of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. David R. Brown, Sc.D. is Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc.; Past Chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health at Connecticut's Department of Health; Past Deputy Director of The Public Health Practice Group of ATSDR at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. In a letter to Washington State Department of Health, dated 9 March 2017, Drs. Clapp and Brown set forth the problems that they see with the department’s recent report, titled Investigation of Reported Cancer among Soccer Players in Washington State (January 2017), as follows:
(1) The report uses an informal, incomplete list of cancer cases. (2) The report’s presents an invalid and misleading calculation of an “observed/expected” ratio. (3) The report considers an inappropriately wide range of ages. The average age of the soccer players on Coach Griffin’s national list is 20-21 years of age. (4) The report does not consider length of exposure, latency period, or other important factors. (5) The report makes a number of misleading and confusing statements about its scope.
According to Clapp & Brown, the investigation of the relationship between artificial turf exposure and cancer risk should be “a valid population-based case-control study. Such a study would use the state cancer registry to identify cases of leukemia and lymphoma diagnosed in individuals aged 15-29 during the time period 2002-2015 or later. Controls would be identified from the school districts or towns of residence of the cases, and interviews would be conducted to gather information about artificial turf exposure as well as other risk factors.”
Clapp & Brown noted that a population-based case-control study “would be time consuming and potentially costly to undertake. However, it would be scientifically valid. This approach was used, for example, to investigate the childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts and the excess leukemia around the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Southeastern Massachusetts.”
While Clapp & Brown understood that Washington State the Department of Health “may not have had the resources to undertake a study of this kind,” they pointed out nevertheless that “in the absence of such a study, however, the conclusions drawn by the Department in its January 2017 report were inappropriate and irresponsible…. The Washington State Department of Health did not have sufficient data to make any statement regarding the safety of exposure to artificial turf fields containing infill made from recycled tires. The statements in the Executive Summary and in the conclusions are misleading and are likely to be used out of context by decision-makers.” For a copy of the letter, which sets forth greater detail about Clapp & brown concerns and methodology of their proposed population-based case-control study, go here.
According to a news article in the Bainbridge Island Review (18 March 2017), “Washington State Department of Health officials are calling turf fields ‘safe’ despite conducting what some say is a flawed study. Parents of Bainbridge athletes have long been concerned about the chemicals present in the recycled tire crumb infill used on artificial turf fields…. In a recent report, the Washington State Department of Health stated that it had not found elevated rates of cancer in the soccer players….The investigation came after the University of Washington’s associate head coach for women’s soccer, Griffin, became concerned with the number of soccer players she had encountered who developed some form of cancer. To Griffin, it seemed an inordinate number of goalkeepers had developed or previously been diagnosed with at least one form of cancer. By 2016, Griffin had compiled a list of some 53 current or former Washington residents who had played soccer on artificial turf fields and had been diagnosed with cancer. The new study did not focus specifically on the recycled tire rubber used as infill on artificial turf fields, but instead examined the soccer players from the list provided by Griffin…. The data from the Washington state investigation is likely incomplete, critics maintain, due to the fact that it only took into account the cancer rates among the soccer players from the list provided by Griffin. The Department of Health did not seek out other soccer players in Washington who had been diagnosed with cancer, and the agency also made estimates for the total number of soccer players in Washington for the years observed. Griffin was very surprised to see that the list she provided constituted all of the investigation’s data on soccer players with cancer.” Griffin is quoted in the article saying “The numbers I gave them were from the people that had contacted me or that I had bumped into that had cancer and played soccer. My samples were extremely small and everyone knows it was anecdotal; there was nothing scientific about it. When I realized that this is what they based their entire study on, I became very uncomfortable. It was really disheartening. I think what is a little concerning for most people is the assumption that I have come across every player in the state of Washington that has played soccer and had cancer.” Source: Nick Twietmeyer, “Health study on rubber turf comes under heavy scrutiny,” in Bainbridge Island Review, 18 March 2017, at http://www.bainbridgereview.com/sports/health-study-on-rubber-turf-comes-under-heavy-scrutiny/ . For an earlier post on the health department “study” see Item No. 135 below.
[No. 135] Olympia, Washington – State Department of Health: “Assurances of the safety of artificial turf are limited by lack of adequate information or potential toxicity and exposure.” In January 2017 the Washington State Department of Health issued its Investigation of Reported Cancer among Soccer Players in Washington State(DOH Pub 210-091 January 2017). The investigation was occasioned by University of Washington Women’s Associate Head Soccer Coach Amy Griffin’s list of soccer players who had played on crumb rubber artificial turf fields who had gotten cancer. At the time of the Department’s inquiry, Amy’s List of the afflicted had 53 people on it, most of whom played soccer. Report at page 1. For updates to Amy’s List, see Item No. 134 below and other preceding posts.
According to the report’s Executive Summary, the main goals of the investigation were to: (1) Compare the number of cancers among soccer players on the coach's list to the number that would be expected if rates of cancer among soccer players were the same as rates among all Washington residents of the same ages; and (2) Describe individuals reported by the coach in terms of their demographics, factors related to cancer, and history of playing soccer and other sports.
The investigation compared cancer types, rates and changes in rates over time among Washington and U.S. residents, ages five to 24 years old, and did not find unusual patterns of cancer in Washington compared to the United States. It also noted that “leukemia and lymphoma [two types of cancer most frequently reported by the coach] are complex diseases that can only rarely be attributed to a single cause or exposure.” The report also noted that seven review articles published [about crumbrubber] in the last 10 years all concluded that playing on artificial turf fields is unlikely to expose children, adolescents or adults to sufficient levels of chemicals from the fields to significantly affect health. “However,” the report noted, “there are still unanswered questions due to limitations in existing research.”
“These findings are subject to several limitations,” the report noted. For one thing, “[t]he list from the coach likely did not include all soccer players ages six to 24 years old who developed cancer during 2002-2015.” Because of a number of reasons, the report noted, “[o]ther soccer players with cancer were likely missed” by the coach. The report also admitted that there are “potential errors in the computation of the expected number of cancers among soccer players resulting from the need to make several assumptions about the numbers and ages of players each year from 1983-2015.”
Despite its limitations, the report concluded that based on the limited data that the investigators had examined, “[n]one of the limitations are substantial enough to affect our conclusion that the number of cancers reported to us does not, by itself, indicate that soccer players, premier and select soccer players, or goalkeepers are at higher risk for cancer than other Washington residents of the same ages.”
The ultimate takeaway to be hand from the investigation is that “[a]ssurances of the safety of artificial turf, however, are limited by lack of adequate information on potential toxicity and exposure.” Report at page 5.
According to Dr. Barry Boyd, an oncologist with Environment and Human Health, Inc. (www.ehhi.org) cancer takes a long time to develop from exposures to disease. According to EHHI, the Washington State DOH report said the researcherswere “unable to find any studies that investigated the effects of simultaneous exposure to the dozens of chemicals that have been identified in artificial turf crumb rubber” [Report at p. 35] and yet “the analysis done at Yale University found 96 chemicals -- 11 of them carcinogens. And NO ONE knows how these 96 chemicals work together - yet the study declares the fields safe.”
EHHI also points out that “[t]he study compared cancer cases much like you would compare the number of sick apples in a barrel. When you compare the number of sick apples in a bucket to the number of sick apples in a truck load of apples -- the result will be an inaccurate ratio.” “How is it that the smallest number of soccer players on the field - the goalkeepers - have the highest number of cancers?” EHHI asks rhetorically.It is obvious – “[a]nyone who has watched soccer knows the goalkeepers are the most heavily exposed.No weight was given to that in the study.”
SynTurf.org Note: In a news story in The News Tribune (18 January 2017), Dr. Cathy Wasserman, an epidemiologist with the Washington State Health Department is quoted as saying that the investigation’s statistical analysis is “first step.” “Our investigation<” she added, “was not designed to discover the causes of cancer.” Citing Wasserman, the news story stated that “[n]or was it [the investigation] designed to explore crumb rubber exposure as a cause. Instead, its purpose was to look at whether cancer occurred at a higher rate among soccer players than among all Washington residents in the same age group.” Source: Debbie Cafazzo “State analysis finds no increased cancer rates among soccer players,” in The News Tribune, 18 January 2017, at http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article127261669.html .
For news story headlines to scream “State analysis finds no increased cancer rates among soccer players,” or industry exultation of ‘crumb rubber found safe,’ is a dishonest characterization of the result of an investigation that admits its own limitations and flaws. Wasserman herself is quoted in the news story that “[w]e are acknowledging gaps in our knowledge.” What is baffling therefore is for her to then say in the same breath that “we have to make recommendations based on the state of knowledge today.” No, Ms. Wasserman, you do not have to make recommendations. If you have gap in your knowledge and then you make recommendations based on what you know, then you are in effect recommending in the face of unknowns. You should not have to make recommendations one way or another, especially misleading ones or making ones that can easily be misconstrued by an unsuspecting parent as suggesting ‘go ahead and send your kids to play in the carcinogen-infested toxic crumb rubber turf fields,’ because you trust what you do not as yet know. If ain’t this a textbook case of astroturfing an issue – bureaucratic gobbledygook – we do not know what is!
[No. 134] Amy’s List - update (November 2016) – spread sheet, pie charts and graphs, and online survey information. According to a communication received at SynTurf.org Amy’s List is now up to 234 players with one form of cancer or another who have played on artificial turf fields. The accompanying spread sheet identifies the player by the type of cancer, sport played and other information. The accompanying pie charts and graphs manage the information in a useful comparative way. The authorship of the two documents belongs to Amy Griffin, Collegiate Soccer Coach, and Jean Bryant, Mother of Soccer Goalkeeper. Amy’s List maintains a online survey for the reporting purposes at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2584959/Amy-s-List .
[No. 133] The Netherlands - Debate over health risks of playing on crumb rubber artificial turf fields garners parliamentary attention. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 1 December 2016. For a while now we have posted items about the debate in The Netherlands surrounding health risks associated with playing on crumb rubber synthetic fields. See http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 129), http://www.synturf.org/playersview.html(Item No. 45), and http://www.synturf.org/crumbrubber.html (Item No. 64). Beginning on Sunday, 27 November 2016, the debate took a predictable turn – while the real health professionals (not mercenaries for the synthetic turf industry) cautioned against the taking risks by paying on artificial turf fields, the politicians took to the dais declaring that it was safe for kids to play on in crumb rubber!
On Sunday, NOS [Nederlandse Omroep Stichting - Dutch Broadcast Foundation, one of the broadcasting organizations making up The Netherlands’s public broadcasting system], reported that 58 out of 60 artificial fields with rubber granules contain carcinogens, and in all the cases the concentration of carcinogens tested higher concentrations allowed than in consumer products. According to the report, the current standard for carcinogens in rubber granules is 1,000 milligrams per kilogram for all carcinogens present together. The standard for consumer products however is 1 milligram per kilogram and for children’s products it is 0.5 per kilogram. NOS compared the results of its study of the sixty field to the the standard for consumer products and found that of the eight proven carcinogens that have been examined, four carcinogens were common in the granules - Benzo (e) pyrene exceeded the average consumer norm by 3.2 times, with the most polluted fields coming in at 5.9 times.Benzo (a) pyrene, benzo (b) fluoranthene, and Chrysene on the average exceeded 1.5 times the allowable standard, with the most polluted field exceeding Chrysene by 3.6 times. According to Professor of Toxicology Martin van den Berg, NOS reported, these concentrations are “higher than you should want for reasons of health.” See “Eerste kunstgrasonderzoeken: relatief veel kankerverwekkende,” on NOS, 28 November 2016, athttp://nos.nl/artikel/2145325-eerste-kunstgrasonderzoeken-relatief-veel-kankerverwekkende-stoffen.html (or Google translation at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http://nos.nl/artikel/2145634-dijksma-kinderen-mogen-op-kunstgras-voetballen.html&prev=search . The report was accompanied by a video titled ‘Stop Voetbal op Kunstgras’ [Stop football (soccer) on artificial turf]., with the subtitle “Geen enkel risico nemen met kunstgras” [Take no risk with artificial turf].
The Next day, on 28 November 2016, during the Question Time at The Netherlands House of Representatives, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment Sharon Dijksma reacted to a recent comment by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Edith Schippers, who had said that the Dutch did not believe that it was not safe to play football on artificial turf. According to NOS, Dijksma said that there was “no evidence that exercise in these fields is bad, but there is no evidence that there is nothing to worry about.” See “Dijksma: kinderen mogen op kunstgras voetballen” [Dijksma: Children can play football on artificial turf],” on NOS, 28 December 2016, athttp://nos.nl/artikel/2145634-dijksma-kinderen-mogen-op-kunstgras-voetballen.html (or Google translation at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http://nos.nl/artikel/2145634-dijksma-kinderen-mogen-op-kunstgras-voetballen.html&prev=search . The NOS story on Dijksma’s comment also went on to point out that “Almost the entire Chamber is concerned about the artificial turf and also parents of young footballers have many questions.” The video accompanying this piece entitled “Wel of niet sporten dit weekend” [Whether or not to play sports this weekend], with the subtitle “Wel of niet sporten” [To play sports or not] must leave on pondering should there even be a question why playing on crumb rubber artificial turf fields is a very, very bad idea.
In covering the publication of the NOS report and the discussion of its results in The Netherlands’s lower house of parliament, DutchNews.nl reported that “The findings prompted cancer specialist Bob Löwenberg to call for artificial pitches to be replaced. Löwenberg, professor of hematology at Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Centre, told NOS: ‘There is absolutely no evidence that artificial grass pitches are bad for you, but we can’t say they are safe. I think there is every reason to be concerned about artificial grass pitches.’” “But Löwenberg said it could take a decade to gather enough information to draw definitive conclusions about the link between artificial pitches and cancer. ‘The question is, do we want to take that risk? Do we really want to experiment on people, including children, and discover later it was the wrong thing to do?’” See “Artificial sports pitches ‘should be torn up’ to prevent risk of cancer,” on DutchNews.nl 28 November 2016, at http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2016/11/artificial-sports-pitches-should-be-torn-up-to-prevent-risk-of-cancer/ .
[No. 132] Booker and Fox-Rawlings: Children and athletes play on toxic turf and playgrounds. Nyedra W. Booker, PharmD, MPH, and Stephanie Fox-Rawlings, PhD, Senior Fellow, National Center for Health Research (http://center4research.org) [not to be confused with the National Institutes of Health], begin their article, titled “Children and Athletes at play on toxic turf and playgrounds,” at http://center4research.org/child-teen-health/early-childhood-development/caution-children-at-play-on-potentially-toxic-surfaces/ with a quizzical reminiscence: “Do you remember when children used to play on tire swings in the backyard or at the park?” but with the added caution that “[t]hose same tires are now being put to a new and possibly hazardous use!” They state that “[t]ere has been increasing evidence that raises concerns about the safety of recycled tire material used on playground surfaces. While tire rubber includes natural rubber from rubber trees, it also contains phthalates (chemicals that affect hormones, see Phthalates and Children’s Products), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals known or suspected to cause adverse health effects. PAHs, for example, are natural or human-made chemicals that are made when oil, gas, coal or garbage is burned. According to the EPA, breathing air contaminated with PAHs may increase a person’s chance of developing cancer, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states that PAHs may increase the risk for cancer and also increase the chances of birth defects.” [footnoting omitted].
They note that “[a] 2015 report analyzed the chemicals found in 5 samples of tire crumbs from 5 different companies that install school athletic fields, and 9 different samples taken from 9 different unopened bags of playground tire mulch. The researchers found 96 chemicals in the samples. A little under a half have never been studied for their health effects, therefore it is not known whether they are harmful. The other chemicals have been tested for health effects, but those tests were not thorough. Based on the studies that were done, 20% of the chemicals that had been tested probably can cause cancer, and a large proportion were irritants – substances cause a body’s reaction. 24% are respiratory irritants that can cause asthma symptoms; 37% can irritate skin; and 27% can irritate eyes.” [Footnoting omitted].
They also note that one can protect one’s child at the synthetic playground by “[r]emember[ing] that children are much more likely to be harmed by exposure to chemicals in their environment than adults because they are smaller (so the exposure is greater) and because their bodies are still developing. This is why it’s important to significantly reduce (or try to eliminate) any contact your child may have with substances that are known or suspected to be harmful. If you have more than one playground in your area, choose the one that doesn’t have a recycled rubber play surface.”
[No. 131] The Rockwood Files – List of players playing football on synthetic turf and having cancer; temperature recordings in St. Louis area fields. A pictorial montage.
The montage and other items featured below is the work of Rockwood Turf, a grassroots group in the St. Louis, Missouri area that has been and still is combating the proliferation of synthetic fields in the RockwoodSchool District. For further information about Rockwood Turf and the material reproduced here please contact email@example.com.
Of the lists and pictorials that Rockwood Turf has sent to us in pdf or jpg format, the most significant, in our humble opinion, is the list of football players with cancer who have played on synthetic turf. Click on the pdf icon on the left to access this document.
Rockwood Turf writes: Note: there are many hidden columns in this spread sheet in order to protect victims’ identities. Rockwood Turf, if necessary, can verify the information. Because synthetic turf fields have not been around public schools very long, and because there had been NBC reports of athletes diagnosed with cancer on Amy Griffin’s list, 37 in 2014 and now 217 in 2016, the question remains: Are other athletes such as football players being diagnosed with cancer? Internet search was utilized to determine if there are any.
The results are shocking. There are still gaps in this list, for example, if a school system did not publish when/if it installed a synthetic turf field. So it is possible that the remaining players did play on synthetic turf fields at his school and/or at a recreational synthetic turf field. There are at least 123 football players confirmed who played on synthetic turf before being diagnosed with cancer.” “This list primarily focuses on high school football players, but also includes college and professional football players with cancers diagnosed in 1999 or after, due to the fact that synthetic turf fields were not in heavy use at high schools until that year. A few others are included such as a few older players or football players who got cancer at a very young age, but the cancer came back when they were in high school or shortly after (there is a possibility that synthetic turf may have caused the recurrence of cancer). Also included is a column for athlete's Status, where I marked if a player has passed away.”
Rockwood Turf explanatory note describes the format of the spreadsheet, key/legend, and observations/notes.
• Current sorting applied is "Played on ST before Diagnosis or Recurrence"
• Numbering in first column was assigned by if Yes to sorting, then by ordering type of cancer, then by age, then most recent year of diagnosis (e.g. Yes, Brain Tumors are first, age 14 at diagnosis, in 2015).
• Yellow shading indicates schools researched, yet unknown if field is synthetic turf or grass.
• Orange shading is to organize the columns into groups.
• G - Grass
• ST - Synthetic Turf
• PF - Playing Fields
• PRF - Practice Fields
• IPF - Indoor Practice Facility
- 230 football players with cancer
- 93 linemen with cancer (there are still 22 players whose position I couldn't find)
• Played on synthetic turf before diagnosis or recurrence of cancer
- 123 football players
- Of these, 45 are linemen
• There are players from same school with cancer. For example:
* Middle Creek High (2 boys diagnosed within 3 years of each other)
* Saraland High (2 boys diagnosed same year, same age)
* St. Charles Catholic High (2 boys diagnosed within 1 year of each other)
* Wagoner High (2 boys same age, same year).
• There are other players from the same school, but age gap might be wider, or the high school has grass just unknown if the players were exposed to synthetic turf elsewhere in town or growing up, etc. Plus there are other college/NFL same school cancers.
• There is one boy who has a twin brother who also played football. One twin got cancer; the other one didn't (so far).
• Other significant information is included under Notes, a column before Sources.
• Columns kept unknown (yellow) even if a player’s schools have grass fields because he may have played on synthetic turf for another sport, community league, local park synthetic turf, etc. Not everything can be found on the Internet; this spreadsheet just focuses on their football experience.
Other pdf or jpg documents in the Rockwood Files contain the following:
CringeCollage1: “These were once also safe products!”
References (sources) for pictures for CringeCollage1: “These were once also safe products!”
Cringe-Collage-2: “Still wanna say this stuff is safe?”
References (sources) for pictures for Cringe-Collage-2: “Still wanna say this stuff is safe?”
[No. 130] Amy’s List - update (October 2016). The non-profit Human Health and Environment, Inc. of North Haven, Connecticut (www.ehhi.org) reminds us that in April 2016, University of Washington Associate Soccer Coach Amy Griffin reported 166soccer players with cancer -- with 102being goalkeepers. That means 61% of the soccer players that have gotten cancer are the goalkeepers.
In October 2016 (6 months later) Bloomberg reports Amy’s list has grown to 230 players, of which 183 are soccer players with 114 of them being goalkeepers. See Peter Hayes, “2016 Playing Fields and Cancer—An Emerging Mass Tort?” on Bloomberg,28 October 2016, at http://www.bna.com/playing-fields-canceran-n57982081984/ . According to EHHI that is an increase of 17 cases among soccer players, 62% of them being goalies. “Whether it is 61% or 62% of the soccer players with cancers are the goalkeepers -- that still is a significant figure,” reports EHHI in an email.
For Amy’s List-updates previously posted here scroll down this page or use the “find” function of your browser for “Amy”.
[No. 129] The Netherlands - More sports injuries occur on artificial turf than on grass. Period. According to an article in The Netherlands Times (20 September 2016), [a]thletes have a better chance of getting hurt playing on artificial turf than on natural grass, according to a study done by television program Radar [on NPO - Dutch national television]. Athletes running on grass have a 27 percent chance of getting hurt. On turf there is a 44 percent chance. ‘The biggest difference is in the damping, which is a lot less on artificial turf,’ according to trainer and exercise physiologist Raymond Verheijen. ‘Particularly the joints suffer from that.’ Some 7 thousand people participated in the Radar study. 40 percent of them sustained abrasions or even open wounds while playing their sport and 35 percent sustained muscle injuries. 31 percent of respondents indicated that they sustained abrasions more often on turf than on grass. According to Radar, it amounts to 44 percent of people playing on turf reported such injuries, compared to 27 of people sporting on grass. There was no significant difference between t[h]e number of muscle injuries between the two fields.” [A spokesman for the Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond (Royal Dutch Football Association [KNVB] said that the] ‘studies were done on the abrasion sensitivity of the fields.” “A massive 69 percent of football players indicated they prefer playing on natural grass rather than artificial turf.” Source: Janene Pieters, “Research: More sports injuries occur on artificial turf,” in The Netherlands Times, 20 September 2016, at http://www.nltimes.nl/2016/09/20/research-sports-injuries-occur-artificial-turf/ .
[No. 128] Montreal, Canada - How turf soccer fields are causing devastating injuries to unsuspecting athletes. According to an article in The Concordian (20 September 2016), “[i]njuries are not uncommon for athletes and are especially f[r]equent for soccer players. It seems as though every player has had to endure one type of injury or another during their career. For some, it may be a concussion from an opponent’s heavy hit, for others, it may be a sprained ankle from being stepped on or landing awkwardly.
For other players, however, severe injuries seem to occur at random: a player collapses on the field without anyone or anything around them, leaving referees, coaches, parents and fellow players concerned.”
This was the case for 23-year-old Vanessa Bianchi, a student at Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, sometimes known in English as a General and Vocational College – either way CEGEP for short. According to the article [i]n August, 2010, the [she] attended a tryout for the JohnAbbottCollege soccer team. During a scrimmage on the second day of tryouts, Bianchi tried to turn with the ball to avoid her opponent. It was a simple move she had done hundreds of times before. However, this time, it was d different. ‘I had no idea what happened,’ Bianchi said. ‘I’d never felt pain like that in my entire life.’ Bianchi had placed her right foot on top of the ball and planted her left foot onto the artificial field for balance. As she turned, the right half of her body pivoted, while her left leg stayed stuck in the field. ‘As soon as I moved, I felt that my entire foot was stuck— and then I heard the pop,’ Bianchi said. For Bianchi, the turf was the only possible culprit. ‘The other girl wasn’t close to me at all, and I didn’t trip over the ball,’ Bianchi said. ‘I never thought I could have injured myself that badly just by playing.’
After undergoing an MRI on her left knee, doctors concluded she had torn her ACL and needed surgery if she ever wanted to play again — which she did. … ‘Every time I went for physiotherapy, there was some other player there with the same injury as me— some were even worse,” Bianchi said. …
“Dr. Raoul Daoust, a surgeon at the Jewish General Hospital, said links can be drawn between artificial turf and the injuries that have been happening. Playing on turf is very different than playing on grass,’ Daoust said. ‘Grass is much more forgiving on the body, and is a lot softer to land on.’ Pivoting, turning and making quick movements is difficult on turf because of how stiff it is, according to Daoust, and can ultimately lead to severe muscle and ligament damage. … ‘Turf, as we know, is very rigid. So not only do I worry about [my daughter] tearing ligaments and muscles, I also get nervous when she comes home after games all bloody and scratched from sliding on it,’ Daoust said. ‘It can be very painful and lead to some serious infections.’” ….
“As [Bianchi] regained the strength in her leg, she gradually began practicing and playing again. It took less than three months before history repeated itself. A similar incident occurred when, during a game, she attempted to make a quick turn to catch opponent with the ball. ‘I guess I moved too quickly and my knee just totally gave out again,’ Bianchi said, shaking her head. ‘That was the end of my soccer career.’” Source: Meghan Kelly, “The possible dangers of an artificial soccer field, in The Concordian , 20 September 2016 at http://theconcordian.com/2016/09/the-horrors-of-an-artificial-soccer-field/
[No. 127] Zhejiang Province, China – Government sets standards for emission of volatiles in synthetic fields and playgrounds. According to a news report in China Daily (reported in East China News Service) (5 July 2016), “[s]afe limits of dangerous chemicals emitted by synthetic running tracks, playgrounds and artificial turf - volatile organic compounds and carcinogenic formaldehyde - have been specified for the first time in new standards for schools in Zhejiang province. The new standards were published on the education department's website over the weekend [July 2-3, 2016]. Students at several primary and middle schools fell ill and the synthetic materials used for the running tracks and artificial grass were suspected culprits. One grass sample taken from the new campus of HangzhouForeignLanguagesSchool, where students suffered nosebleeds, coughs and delayed menstruation, was found to be giving off hazardous benzene more than 14 times above the national safety limit. The two new benchmarks are not included in the national standards, but are included in provincial standards in order to provide stricter precautions that will better safeguard students' health, according to the education authority. Summer heat has been cited as a possible cause of increased chemical emissions from synthetic materials. Under the standards, a group of five teachers, parents and experts will assess odors at school facilities regularly. The five will rate odors on a 1-5 scale, with 1 meaning no odor and 5 signifying strong, pungent odor. If three of the five reach a consensus at 3 or above, the running track will be closed.
Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are mulling or have recently published new local standards for the synthetic materials in schools. Under Shenzhen's standards, which were released in May, eight substances are covered, including harmful PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These are not included in national standards. ‘This is to avoid situations in which some products are qualified under the standards but are still problematic,’ said Ren Jun, chief engineer at Shenzhen Institute of Building Research Co, who helped formulate the standards. Shao Jianhua, executive vice-president of Zhejiang Provincial Sports Venue Facility Construction Association, said one key problem lies in the financial auditing system. ‘Under the current system, a supplier who offers the lowest price in bidding will win a project at a school. But this seems questionable for projects with chemical materials,’ Shao said.” Source: “Safety standards set for school tracks, turf,” in China Daily (Feng Shuang Editor), 5 July 2016, athttp://www.ecns.cn/2016/07-05/216856.shtml
[No. 126] Beijing, China - After issues with toxicity of crumb rubber now comes evidence of toxicity of the plastic grass blade fiber . According to a news report in the China Daily (23 June 2016), “[a] number of students from a Hangzhou-based middle school were sickened recently, and synthetic material used for the running tracks and artificial grass at the school were the suspected culprits. When a number of samples were sent to a lab, one of the grass samples was found to be emitting toxic benzene more than 14 times above the national safety limit. A second grass sample was found to be above the limit by about 27 percent…. The students at a new campus of HangzhouForeignLanguagesSchool in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, suffered illnesses including nosebleeds, coughs and delayed menstruation since the end of May, South Metropolis Daily reported on Wednesday…. The school sent samples from the tracks and artificial grass to a Shanghai-based institute for testing. The samples were collected in the presence of people representing students’ families. ‘There was no problem with the rubber, but the artificial grass was found to emit toxic ingredients more than expected…China has no standards for the toxic ingredients of artificial grass, so we can only judge whether the material is safe according to the standards for synthetic running tracks,’ the school said. Two of the seven artificial grass samples were reported as having benzene concentrations above national standards. One sample measured 63.8 mg/kg, about 27 percent over the national upper safety limit of 50 mg/kg. A second material used in the grass－a compound of methylbenzene and xylene－had benzene emissions at a whopping 733.8 mg/kg. Previous tests conducted in October, after the playground was finished, show that the materials used on the ground were qualified. ‘The high temperature might be the cause of the rise of toxic ingredients,’ the school said.” Source: China Daily, “School’s artificial grass found to be highly toxic,” in China Daily, 23 June 2016, at http://china.org.cn/china/2016-06/23/content_38726300.htm . For a related story about China’s poisonous tracks, see Owen Guo, “China Vows to Replace 'Poisonous' Running Tracks at Schools,” in The New York Times (Asia Pacific), 23 June 2016, at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/24/world/asia/china-running-tracks-poison-toxic.html?_r=1 .
[No. 124] Could there be a link between substances of concern in artificial turf and heart disease? An article by David Abel, titled “New evidence of the dangers of living near highways,” in The Boston Globe, 14 April 2016, at https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/04/13/new-evidence-dangers-living-near-highways/hVyqTnY4iyn9YRoNSwWtGI/story.html reported on a study by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health on the dangers of living near highways. They used mobile labs to analyze the health impact of microscopic pollution on residents of Chinatown, Dorchester, and South Boston. Here are excerpts from the article, with emphasis placed on terms used in the article that are also a part of the vocabulary dealing with crumb rubber and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons associated with artificial turf.
“A new study of Boston residents who live or spend a significant amount of time near Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike has found that their exposure to microscopic metals and chemicals spewed from vehicles increases their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.”
“The study of so-called ultrafine particles, which expands on previous public health research in Somerville, adds to the growing body of evidence of the dangers of living near highways and other busy roads.”
“The findings suggest that those who live within 1,500 feet of a highway have a greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease than those living twice as far away.”
“The authors of the study, which will be published this week in the journal Environment International, said the accumulation of evidence in recent years linking prolonged exposure of ultrafine particles to cardiovascular risks should spur public officials, developers, and others to take action. Even relatively brief exposure — just months or days — can elevate health risks, they said.”
“Boston officials said they have been monitoring the new research on ultrafine particles, which include hydrocarbons and metals such as iron and nickel.
“The researchers found that residents who lived within 1,500 feet of the highway were likely to have 14 percent more C-reactive protein in their blood than those who lived more than a half-mile away. Higher amounts of the protein indicate a higher likelihood of a stroke or heart attack.”
[No. 123] Amy’s List – an update (April 2016). According to a communication from EHHI (www.ehhi.org), dated 8 April 2016, in January of this year, 2016 (just 3 months ago) there were reported 159 cancers among soccer players - now there are 166. 97 of those in January were goalkeepers - now 102 are goalkeepers. It remains that 61%. of the cancers among soccer players are the goalkeepers. Thus far: 220 is the total number of athletes who have played on synthetic turf and have cancer. 166 Soccer Players who have played on synthetic turf and have cancer, among them 102 are goalkeepers (61% are the goalkeepers), 64 with Lymphomas (39 are goalkeepers), 10 with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (7 are goalkeepers), 54 with Hodgkins Lymphoma (32 are goalkeepers), 41 with Leukemias (24 are goalkeepers), 16 with Sarcomas (7 are goalkeepers), 12 with Thyroid (9 are goalkeepers), 11 with brain cancer (5 are goalkeepers), 9 with testicular cancer (6 are goalkeepers), 4 with lung cancer (3 are goalkeepers), and the rest with other rare cancers.
“It is important to remember,” EHHI stated, “the only people counted in the numbers [above] are those who have known to call Amy Griffin. There is still no government agency tracking the cancers among the athletes who have played on synthetic turf. We know that the actual numbers of athletes who have played on synthetic turf and come down with cancer has to be much greater than those who have known to report their illness to Amy Griffin.”
[No. 122] Something is rotten in state of the Kingdom. Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 1 March 2016. February saw a host of stories coming out of the United Kingdom pointing to concerns over playing on artificial turf fields. One story added an international dimension to the earlier reports in the US about cancers among athletes who have played on artificial turf fields, particularly with crumb rubber infill. Nigel Maguire, a former executive with the UK’s National Health Service for Cumbria County in Northwest England, believes toxic chemical in artificial surfaces sparked the cancer Hodgkin's Lymphoma in his son Lewis, an 18-year-old goalkeeper. According to a story on The Daily Mail (14 February 2016), the 52-year-old Maguire, “who took early retirement from his job as chief executive of NHS Cumbria to look after Lewis, said his son fell ill halfway through a 12-week trial with Leeds United two years ago. He warned that rubber pellets added to synthetic football pitches to give them bounce are made from old car tyres and contain toxic chemicals including mercury, lead, benzene and arsenic. He believes it is the cause for illness in players, particularly goalkeepers - like his son - who come into closer contact with the plastic playing surface when they dive for the ball. Mr Maguire said: ‘Goalkeepers like Lewis dive dozens of times in training so they breathe it in or swallow it and it gets in their grazes. He used to come home with his kit covered in the stuff. We'd have to scrape it off. The more I look into it, the more horrified I am. Anyone who thinks swallowing half a teaspoon a week of that stuff is a good idea is barking mad.’ It is feared the pellets - known as crumb rubber - may be accidentally swallowed, or become lodged in arm or leg wounds, when players hit the 3G turf. Mr Maguire is now starting a campaign to raise national awareness of the issue. He has called for a moratorium on building new 3G pitches and wants rugby and goalkeeping training on them to be banned until more research is carried out. ‘If people knew where the black rubber pellets came from and were made of they would think twice about letting their kids train there…It is obscene so little research has been done. This multibillion-dollar industry is conducting an industrial-scale experiment on our kids - it's a scandal.’ Last month it was revealed that worried campaigners in the U.S. have linked synthetic pitch use to more than 150 cancer cases. It prompted the wife of former Liverpool and Everton player Gary Ablett [who died in 2012] to voice concern over their use." Source: Emma Glanfield, “My teenage son's cancer was caused by artificial football pitches, says former NHS boss as he launches campaign to halt turf's use over fears they contain dangerous chemicals,” on The Daily Mail, 14 February 2016, at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3447336/My-teenage-son-s-cancer-caused-artificial-football-pitches-says-former-NHS-boss-launches-campaign-halt-turf-s-use-fears-contain-dangerous-chemicals.html
Meanwhile in Scotland, according to a news story in The Scotsman (10 February 2016), the Professional Footballers’ Association Scotland (Players’ Union) “boss Wishart has called on the game’s ruling bodies to prevent more senior clubs installing plastic pitches until proper research has been done on the damage they can do to players and the game itself. Twelve of the 42 SPFL clubs play on 3G surfaces and many players – in some cases, leading goalscorers – are left out by their managers when they visit certain grounds due to the impact the synthetic turf has on their joints. PFA Scotland wants to find out whether players are more likely to be crocked on artificial pitches than they are on grass and Wishart also worries that artificial pitches produce artificial games. In 2013, the SFA announced that they had asked Wishart to send out a survey of his members on the subject and more than 700 of them replied. The vast majority wanted to avoid Astroturf, but the SFA kicked the results into the long grass, where they have remained… until now.” Source: Ewing Grahame, “Players’ Union demand synthetic pitch research,” in The Scotsman, 10 February 2016, at http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/players-union-demands-synthetic-pitch-research-1-4025893
Quick to back Wishart was the former Scotland international Stephen McManus, a Motherwell defender. According to a news story on EuroSport.com (11 February 2016), Mcmnaus is “a firm opponent of the artificial surfaces used by the likes of Hamilton and Kilmarnock…. McManus insists it should be the players who are listened to when deciding if more plastic pitches are installed in Scottish grounds - and not the money men running clubs….. And he gave his backing to PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart, who has called for players to have greater say after going public with the results of a damning survey into the matter. Twelve of the SPFL's 42 clubs have 3G pitches installed but, according to the union's survey of 700 players, 73 per cent of professionals would rather play on a deteriorating grass surface than artificial turf….[MacManus said] ‘I don't think Scottish football professionally should be played on it. That's just my opinion. Does it take you longer to recover after playing on an astro? At 33, 100 per cent, trust me. I feel the effects of it when I play on one on a Saturday for a few days after it in comparison to grass. If you ask players, and they are the ones who need to be listened to because they are the ones playing on it week in, week out, it should be grass.” Source: PA Sport, “Stephen McManus backs PFA Scotland artificial pitch concerns,” on n EuroSport.com, 11 February 2016, at http://www.eurosport.com/football/stephen-mcmanus-backs-pfa-scotland-artificial-pitch-concerns_sto5172307/story.shtml .
Also backing the players’ demand is St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright. According to a news story on the BBC Scotland (11 February 2016), Wright “thinks players should have their say on artificial pitches. [He said] ‘[t]he game is about players. If the figures they are talking about are a high percentage that are unhappy with them then it’s quite right that something has to be looked at…It’s always easy to criticise the grass pitches when the weather is bad but pitches then get work done on them and they do improve….Artificial is certainly different but I think it is wrong in a sporting sense. For example, we can’t play [the forward] Steven MacLean on it due to medical advice so there is something that needs to be looked at.” “MacLean is the Perth club’s top scorer this term with 11 goals but does not feature on artificial pitches after suffering two serious injuries while playing on synthetic surfaces….[MacLean said] ‘[a] few years ago I played on AstroTurf, I think I was at Hamilton, and a week or so later I had to go and see the surgeon….I needed an operation as I had a micro-fracture. Then the same happened about a year later. I played on AstroTurf again and I needed another operation. I spoke to the surgeon and he advised me not to play on the AstroTurf. Now when an artificial grass game comes around the gaffer [Wright] just takes it out of my hands and tells me straight away I will not be playing….[it is] a totally different game…You can’t move as well, it’s a lot firmer and it takes your body longer to recover.’” Source: Brian McLauchlin, “Artificial grass: Listen to players, says St Johnstone boss Wright,” on BBC Scotland, 11 February 2016, at http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/35551537
[No. 121] Health tips for referees officiating on artificial turf. Randy Vogt is a soccer referee who has officiated at more than 9,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. Recently he penned an article entitled “Tips for reffing on artificial turf,” which was published on ESPN Wide World of Sports (18 February 2016) at http://www.socceramerica.com/article/67734/tips-for-reffing-on-artificial-turf.html . The following is the health-related excerpts from the piece:
“Approximately half my outdoor games every year are played on synthetic turf. Generally, these are the higher level games such as college, high school and often adult and older youth games. First of all, the corner flag keeps falling in games played on turf on windy days, even if the flag has a base that is supposed to avoid it from falling. There needs to be a hole in the ground so that the flag can be placed and it would not fall….. Unfortunately, it’s a different game on turf as the speed of play is so much quicker, causing me as a ref to run so much more. Recently in a cup final, I was able to stay right near the ball for critical calls in a game played on grass. I would have been out of luck in providing such coverage on turf as the ball moves more rapidly. It’s much more challenging to ref on artificial turf instead of grass during hot days as the turf surface can become searing, although not as bad as how hot the old Astroturf fields became. After I refereed three boys U-15 games on turf during a summer tournament, I lost a lot of weight and was tired for the next two days. The players quickly became fatigued as well but they could be substituted. I was not as fortunate. Maybe the heat of the field is the reason I am replacing many more pairs of socks today (because of holes in them) than in the past. My colleagues report the same issue of socks developing holes rather quickly."
[No. 120] New Italian study says polycarbon aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and zinc in crumb rubber exceed Italian National Amateur League (LND) limits and the toxicity equivalent of evaporates from crumb rubber is not negligible and represents a major contribution to the total daily intake of PAHs by different routes. One of the earliest items posted on SynTurf.org was a story about the Italian Minister of Health Francesco Storace’s last act in office to make public on 2 May 2006, the study of a commission that he had set up in order to examine the potential risks associated with use of rubber in artificial turf fields. The study had found levels of PAHs, toluene, and heavy metals to exceed the legal limits, leading to the conclusion that the synthetic turf fields in Italy were potentially cancer-causing. The commission, which also included physicians and lawyers from the Ministry of the Environment, urged the adoption of a law to clean up the dangerous fields. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item No. 1) also http://www.synturf.org/crumbrubber.html (Item No. 15). That was 10 years ago.
Abstract Synthetic turf, made with an infill of rubber crumb from used tyres or virgin rubber, is now common in many sporting facilities. It is known that it contains compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. We evaluated in nine samples of rubber crumb the total content of some heavy metals (Zn, Cd, Pb, Cu, Cr, Ni, Fe) normally found in tyres by microwave mineralization and the levels of the 14 US EPA priority PAHs by Soxhlet extraction and HPLC analysis. The results showed high levels of PAHs and zinc in all rubber crumb samples compared to rubber granulate limits set by Italian National Amateur League (LND). Following the precautionary principle, a risk assessment at 25°C was done, using the Average Daily Dose (ADD) assumed by athletes, expressed in terms of mass of contaminant per unit of body weight per day (mg/kg day), and the Lifetime Average Daily Dose (LADD) and then evaluating the Hazard Index (HI) and the Cumulative Excess Cancer Risk (ΣECR). In the different rubber granulates samples the HI ranges from a minimum of 8.94×10-7 to a maximum of 1.16×10-6, while the ΣECR ranges from a minimum of 4.91×10-9 to a maximum of 1.10×10-8. Finally, the aim of this study was to estimate the “hazard” for athletes inhaling PAHs released at the high temperatures this synthetic turf may reach. Then a sequence of proofs was carried out at 60°C, a temperature that this rubber crumb can easily reach in sporting installations, to see whether PAH release occurs. The toxicity equivalent (TEQ) of evaporates from rubber crumb is not negligible and represents a major contribution to the total daily intake of PAHs by different routes.
[No. 119] Amy’s List – an update. In August 2015 we published an update of “Amy’s List” of players with cancer who’ve had in common playing on artificial turf. http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 109). In July, 2015, there were 127 cancers among soccer players and 85 of those were goalkeepers.
According to a tabulation communicated by EHHI.org (www.ehhi.org), as of January 2016, there are now 203 athletes who have played on synthetic turf and reported cancers to Amy Griffin and of those 203 — just over 60% (123 players) have blood cancers. 97 of the 159 soccer players with cancer are goalies, constituting 61% of the soccer players. Goalkeepers are the most heavily exposed to the crumb rubber infill. So in the last six months there have been 32 more cancers in soccer players and 12 more cancers among goalkeepers than were reported in July, 2015. Of those 159, 63 cases have lymphoma and 34 cases have leukemia: That means 40% have lymphoma and 20% have leukemia. This is significant because in the United States among this age group leukemia is almost twice as prevalent as lymphoma -- yet among players on synthetic turf fields it is just the opposite; there are twice as many cases of lymphoma as leukemia.
Among the year’s literature on the correlation between synthetic turf and concussion is Chris Nowinski, Clifford Robbins, Peter Schade, and Dr. Robert Cantu, contributing authors, The Role of Synthetic Turf in Concussion (Concussion Legacy Foundation -- . ConcussionFoundation.org - White Paper, November 2015). Founded in 2007 by Dr. Robert Cantu and Christopher Nowinski, The Concussion Legacy Foundation, formerly the Sports Legacy Institute, is located in Boston, Massachusetts.
The study looked at head-to-surface type of concussion inducing contact. As the study pointed out, decreased impact attenuation could increase the amount of force transferred to an athlete’s head during a fall, potentially increasing their risk of sustaining a concussion. When one in seven high school sports concussions is caused by surface impacts and one in four concussions in youth soccer and football, the study concluded surfaces deserve the same attention that helmets are getting. The surface includes synthetic turf fields, which as the authors found, when not properly padded and maintained, could lead to decreased impact attenuation.
[No. 117] If playing on artificial turf is safe then why all this techno-fuss? According to an Associated Press report published in the Bangor Daily News (3 December 2015), “[a]n impact-absorbing helmet, a cushion for artificial turf and a rubberized tether that slows the speed of the head snapping back after a collision were products named winners of a research challenge co-sponsored by the National Football League. The University of Washington, which developed the helmet, Viconic Sporting for their cushion and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory for the tether will receive up to $1 million more in funding from the NFL, Under Armour and GE. ‘This is an opportunity to see what the future is going to look like,’ Jeffrey Miller, senior vice president of Health and Safety for the NFL, told Reuters on Thursday [3 December 2015] after announcing the awards given under its Head Health Challenge initiatives.” According to Jason Kroll, in business development for Viconic, ‘[t]here are about 2,000 new artificial turf surfaces installed in North America annually. An artificial underlayment surface is only installed about 10 percent of the time, so there is a tremendous opportunity for this [cushion]technology.’” “Dave Marver, representing the University of Washington project, said their researchers found that the football helmets they tested were good at protecting against skull fracture but not in mitigating concussion risk.” Source: Larry Fine (Reuters), “New football helmet, turf cushion win research challenge,” in Bangor Daily News (3 December 2015), at http://bangordailynews.com/2015/12/03/sports/new-football-helmet-turf-cushion-win-research-challenge/ .
SynTurf.org Note: With all this technology-in-progress how in good conscience can the artificial turf industry and the EPA and the CPSC claim that playing on this surface is safe? May be it is time to ask the Federal Trade Commission to look into the advertising and marketing practices of the turf industry that claims their product is safe.
[No. 115]NFL: Seven percent of all concussions are caused by heads slamming into the artificial turf. The television news magazine 60 Minutes (CBS) aired a segment on 15 November 2015 entitled “Football and the Brain.” Steve Kroft was the correspondent and Draggan Mihailovich was the producer on the segment. The segment reported the following: “The NFL is also providing money to develop materials to put underneath the turf to cushion impacts. The league estimates that seven percent of all concussions are caused by heads slamming into the turf. That's what happened with Kansas City’s [wide receiver] Jeremy Maclin in October.” Read the script of the full story here http://www.cbsnews.com/news/football-and-the-brain-nfl-60-minutes/ or here.
[No. 114] Columbus, Ohio: Lack of artificial turf maintenance endangers athletes’ heath and safety. According to a news report on WBNS TV-10 (29 October 2015), “Tommy Horn had a future in football. HilliardBradleyHigh School's quarterback played in October 2012's cross-town rivalry game against Hilliard Darby, until a tackle in the 3rd quarter. ‘It wasn’t the guy’s fault that hit me, that landed on me. It wasn't dirty or anything. it was just the way I hit the ground and the impact of it,’ said Horn.
Horn was in the hospital three days. He had a bruised spinal cord, two broken bones in his back and a severe concussion. Horn believes he suffered these severe injuries because he was being tackled on turf, not grass. Horn recalled, ‘My body kept on going forward. It was just the impact of the turf really that did it.’”…. “To make the turf soft, turf companies scatter crumb rubber across the field. Players regularly kick or carry that crumb rubber off the field - leaving dangerous spots without cushioning. Schools are supposed to regularly distribute this crumb rubber while turf companies do long-term repairs.”
“Retired Columbus Crew midfielder Frankie Hejduk knows first-hand how painful artificial turf impacts can be, ‘When I played on turf, after games, my body hurt a lot more than it did when I played games on grass. You thought about that when you played. You thought about should I go for this tackle because it's a turf.’”
“To assess the hardness of a turf field, technicians perform what is called a GMAX test. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) trade group developed the standard and recommended fields be kept below a rating of 165. 10 Investigates found some schools hadn't been testing their fields until asked. Those who test show a variety of results. Rated at 170.8, Westerville Central has a level just above the 165 standard and Johnstown Monroe is approaching the recommended GMAX limit. Johnstown Monroe is limiting use of its field and plans to build a new turf field as a result of that test. Industry safety experts say anything above that level leaves athletes in danger of head injuries. Westerville school officials said they too will be putting down extra pellets to soften the field and will conduct another test.”
“Dr. Charles Mancino runs tests for CLC Labs, one of the few independent businesses in the country that test the hardness of artificial turf fields. ‘If you decelerate too quickly, you can suffer a life threatening head or neck injury," Dr. Mancino explained. "There are probably a lot of schools that don't know the value exists.’"
“10 Investigates asked 68 Central Ohio school districts whether they had turf and what their latest GMAX field test results are. Some area schools including almost all the area's private schools, would not disclose to 10 Investigates what their ratings are. Athletes and their parents have no way of knowing.”
“Dr. Pete Edwards at Columbus' OrthopedicOneMedicalCenter explained the potential dangers of artificial turf. ‘10 percent of the concussions are definitely influenced by the hardness of that surface. Hard turf creates more injury mechanisms and more force so players get injured more.’"
“Another issue athletes face on turf is how their footing is impacted. That's what engineer Chris Sherwood with Biocare research in Charlottesville, Virginia studied for years. Sherwood listed the injuries more common with artificial turf, ‘Either a fracture of ligament tear in the mid foot. Regular ankle sprains, something called high ankle sprains where the ligaments are a little farther up and it can cause a more severe type of injury. The belief is even injuries in the knee, ACL tears, that type of thing.’
[No. 113] Chinese news reports eing alarm over link between synthetic playing surfaces and infertility. According to a news report in Hong Kong Free Press (14 October 2015), “[r]Running tracks containing ‘toxic’ plasticisers at schools in eastern China have been making children ill and could leave male students infertile, according to mainland news reports. Unscrupulous contractors hired to install the tracks at multiple primary schools in Jiangsu province stand accused of using ‘sub-standard’ materials to cut costs and boost their profit margins. According to one school in Suzhou, students have been suffering form spontaneous nosebleeds, headaches and rashes since they began exercising on the school's new track in September. Similar claims have since arisen from schools in Nanjing, Wuxi and Changzhou. Prolonged exposure to the materials could even cause ‘severe poisoning’ and lead to male infertility, reports have indicated.
[No. 112] Sadistic coaches discover the virtue of superheated abrasive qualities of synthetic surfaces. SynTurf.org, Newton, Massachusetts. 1 November 2015. Playing on artificial turf surfaces is punishing enough on the body, but for the abrasive carpet to be used as an implement of torture elevates the virtues of the medium to a whole new other level. The infliction of pain and injury by a rap across the open palm with a ruler or a switch, a squeeze of fingers separated by pencils placed between the knuckles, a slap across the face, a cigarette burn on the back of the hand, or a Texas-twister will get a teacher fired on the spot in this country. And yet sadistic form of punishment is alive and well in the testosterone-poisoned culture of the grid iron.
In December 2009, SynTurf.org posted a story about coach Mark Mangino of KansasUniversity who resigned his office after the athletic director at the university launched an investigation into the defensive lineman Cory Kipp’s significant injuries as a result of a punishment carried out by the coach. After the afternoon practice in August of 2003 Mangino had Kipp do the “bear-crawl” across the AstroTurf field at Memorial Stadium on his hands and feet as punishment for his failure to weigh-in earlier that day. Kipp began the crawl and, after moving several yards, felt a burning sensation in his hands. On multiple occasions, he stopped to complain that the turf was burning his hands — according to a University of Arkansas report, artificial playing surfaces have been documented at up to 199 degrees in temperature — but was ordered by Mangino, who was walking alongside the crawling player, to keep going.
By the time Kipp had finished, the skin near the heel of his hand had been completely seared, and photos of the injuries depicted blistering and a sizable area of missing skin. Consequently Kipp was forced to undergo extensive treatment on his hand by then-head football trainer Carol Jarosky throughout the next three weeks, but he was told to practice through it. The Birmingham, Alabama-based dermatologist Conway Huang confirmed the injury was either frictional or heat-related; if heat-related, it was consistent with second-degree burns. “Turf-boarding, a new form of torture!” at http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 33).
SynTurf.org’s Note on the foregoing story at the time commented that the coach was wrong to do what he did to Kipp and others. However, more appalling and hardly ever addressed in our sports culture is the players’ reluctance to complain in a timely fashion. This needs to stop—we should be educating our athletes about the difference between discipline and abuse, and how tolerating abuse a hero does not make—it is the coward who dares not speak the truth to power wherever and whenever. As parents we have the burden of raising children who expect respect and will not stand for mistreatment.
Well, maybe not. According to news story on WFAA (Channel 8, ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas) (4 June 2015), Jennifer Warren was upset because “her 14-year-old son come home from school with second-degree burns on his hands [with blisters in the palm of his hands].” “Some of the boys during P.E. were apparently horsing around in the bathroom, and that upset the head football coach. So, parents say, he had them come out to the track and do bear crawls…. Nearly a dozen boys' hands were burned, blistered, and bleeding. Some parents from RainsJunior High School in Emory took to Facebook and posted pictures….[T]emperatures were nearly in the 90s, making the track steaming hot….Rains Independent School District “says it’s investigating and has placed the coach on administrative leave.” Source: Rebecca Lopez, “Teens suffer second-degree burns from coach’s punishment,” on WFAA , 4 June 2015, (Channel 8, ABC affiliate, Dallas, Texas), at http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/texas-news/2015/06/05/bearcrawls-emory-rains-heat-burns/28501883/
According to another news report—this from Stratford, Connecticut (WABC, New York City, 10 September 2015), the football coach at Stratford High School was suspended for two games after a drill he ordered allegedly left some of his players with blisters and burn-like injuries. The football players were disciplined by being forced to do a spider crawl across the field—facing the sky with hands and feet touching the ground. The air temperature was above 90 degrees, and because the field was artificial turf, the hot material left some players with blisters or burn-like injuries. Source: Gillian Mohney, “Coach Suspended for Two Games After Drill Left Football Players With Blisters and ‘Burns,’” on WABC, New York City), 10 September 2015, at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/coach-suspended-games-drill-left-football-players-blisters/story?id=33668209
According to a news report out of Falmouth, Virginia (The Free Lane-Star, 9 October 2015), “[a] Stafford High School assistant football coach has been fired for overseeing a punishment drill that left four players with blisters on their hands. Offensive line coach Ken Marshall and Indians head coach Chad Lewis were initially suspended two games for their roles in making players perform bear crawls as punishment for missing practice on Labor Day…. Marshall … was terminated after an investigation by the school system’s director of workforce compliance…. Approximately 20 varsity and junior varsity players at Stafford High missed practice on Labor Day. Lewis assigned them to do extra work before practice the following day. The drills included bear crawls, which involves using both hands and feet to shuffle in a crouched position across the 53-yard-wide stadium field. Marshall, 51, oversaw the drill. After the first trip across the artificial turf field, three players showed him blisters on their hands. According to Marshall and a police report on the incident, the players were immediately sent to the team trainer for treatment and Marshall halted the exercise. Marshall said he immediately informed Lewis of the blisters and told the head coach ‘up-downs’—having players run in place, then drop to the ground and pop back up—would be better because there is no prolonged contact with the turf, which was hot that day…. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services [CPS] both investigated allegations of mental abuse and neglect against Marshall and Chad Lewis. Both were cleared of any wrongdoing. Reports of the investigations list just one alleged victim. The police report states that football practice resulted in ‘unintended’ injuries to players and no charges would be filed. It says three photos were taken of large blisters on the hands of the alleged victim. According to the CPS report, the agency was asked by school officials on Sept. 11 to sit in on a meeting about the incident. The case worker determined CPS intervention was unwarranted and no charges should be filed against Marshall and Chad Lewis because of a lack of criminal intent.… The report states that the blisters were the result of “unusually high” turf temperatures. Stafford installed artificial turf in 2014. There were no heat alerts on Sept. 8—the high recorded at the University of Mary Washington weather station that day was 90 degrees. And there are no signs—like the one at SmithLakePark in Stafford that states “during hot weather temperature can reach extreme levels”—near the field warning coaches to be cautious of hot turf…. ‘I had no control of the turf or any reason to suspect that the turf temperature could get hot enough to cause blisters,’ Marshall said. Source: Taft Coghill, Jr., “Stafford assistant football coach fired over disciplinary drill,” in The Free Lance-Star, 9 October 2015, at http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/stafford/stafford-assistant-football-coach-fired-over-disciplinary-drill/article_42160221-84cd-5af4-b786-68e2d78508a4.html
If you have not had enough of this barbarity—here is another one, this one from Temecula, California, in the southwestern part of RiversideCounty (Valley News, 17 October 2015). The Temecula Valley Unified School Board launched an investigation in October 2015 into claims that “25 ChaparralHigh School football players, during a September conditioning practice, may have suffered burns on their hands from hot artificial grass. The football players after complaining of the burns were sent to the team athletic trainer John Rentar who provided first aid treatment for their burns. A few days later the school nurse, after examining a few of the player’s blistered hands, called parents to inform them that they needed further medical treatment for possible infections…. One of the football player’s mothers, who chose to remain anonymous for fear her child would be retaliated against, claims that during a school football practice, 25 or more players on the football team were chastised by Coach Jeffrey McCullough for ‘losing their focus and goofing off’ on the field. In an effort to condition the teens, the parent said, the coach ordered the players to perform ‘bear crawls’ on the hot artificial turf field, resulting in burns on the students’ hands and knees…. The mother of the 14-year-old player said she wasn’t aware of the situation or her son’s wounds until a few days later, when the school called and promptly informed her that her son was in need of hospitalization….After the parents began complaining the School Board issued a statement to the parents. In the statement, the school claims that the students were required to perform ‘crab walks,’ but that the injuries were unintended and the coach in question did, in fact, sterilize the equipment used to ‘pop’ the students’ blisters…. Greatly concerned that their children would be retaliated against, none of the parents would allow their names to be used by this writer.” Source: Taryn Murphy, TEMECULA: TVUSD faces football team injury lawsuit,” in Valley News, 17 October 2015, athttp://myvalleynews.com/education/temecula-tvusd-faces-football-team-injury-lawsuit/
[No. 111] Masterson, New Zealand: Artificial turf sidelines star rugby player, as graze (scrape) leads to infection. According to a news article in The Dominion Post (16 September 2015), the “new artificial turf at Masterton’s Trust House Memorial Park has sidelined a star rugby player. In-form South Canterbury winger Rupeni Cokanasiga looks likely to miss his team’s next match with a large, infected graze after a Heartland competition game last weekend against Wairarapa-Bush. South Canterbury manager Cedric Coll questioned whether germs on the pitch, installed as part of a $2.1 million upgrade at the park this season, were to blame. ‘It’s a magnificent-looking venue, but if you’re going to be pulling two or three players out after each game it’s not worth the risk.’ Cokanasiga applied Vaseline to his knees and elbows before the game, cleaned his wound afterwards with antibacterial soap, and treated it with iodine. But despite the precautions, at Tuesday's training he and two team-mates had developed painful infections. Cokanasiga was put on antibiotics for the infected graze, which measured 15 centimetres by five. ‘You could almost fry an egg on it, it was so hot,’ Coll said. The Fijian, who scored his third try of the season in Masterton, was in doubt for Saturday’s game as a result. Wairarapa-Bush coach Josh Syms said the issue would probably resolve itself as the new surface settled down and players got used to dealing with grazes. ‘People spit on rugby fields, and people bleed and people sweat – so all that infectious material goes on it.’ That material would be eliminated through rain and grass-cutting in a way that didn’t happen on ‘plastic; pitches, he said. South Canterbury coach Barry Matthews said the issue needed to be dealt with. ‘I think they need to do something because teams just won't want to play on it ... it looked really clean, but if they're getting infected quite quickly it must be dirty.’ North Otago also had a player miss a game with an infected graze after playing in Masterton, team manager Duncan Kingan said.” Source: Caleb Harris, “Star rugby player sidelined by infected graze from Masterton’s new artificial pitch,” in The Dominion Post, 16 September 2015, at http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/72116730/star-rugby-player-sidelined-by-infected-graze-from-mastertons-new-artificial-pitch
[No. 110] Ethan Zohn on crumb rubber and cancer. Ethan Zohn is a former professional soccer goalie. He played with Hawaii Tsunami and Cape Cod Crusaders of the United Soccer Leagues. He is considered among the best and most influential players of the 2000s. According to a news article on Huffington Post (16 Augsuet 2015), “[c]ontaining carcinogens and countless chemicals, exposure to crumb rubber causes multiple risks to players’ health. For example, plentiful evidence exists to determine that crumb rubber exposure can lead to cancer.” According to the article, “Ethan Zohn … who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 has studied the connection between soccer players with cancer to their exposure to turf and crumb rubber. Among the 52 players with cancer he has studied, 46 of them have been goalkeepers, a position that has a higher interaction with turf than others.” Zohn says, “Goalkeepers are on the ground for the most part. Your face is in it, you’re breathing in the dust, eating some of it, your scrapes are getting filled with this [crumb rubber] stuff.” Source: Olivia Roskill, “America’s Wonder Women & The Battle For Equal Green(s),” on Huffington Post, 16 August 2015, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olivia-roskill/americas-wonder-women-the_b_7978004.html
[No. 109] Amy’s List – update. According to Nancy Alderman, President, Environment and Human Health, Inc. (www.ehhi.org), the data collected by Amy Griffin, assistant women’s soccer coach, University of Washington, in February 2015 the reported number of soccer players with cancer was 109 -- now - 5 months later, as of 17 2015 the total number of soccer players who played on synthetic turf with cancer is 127 and of those 85 were soccer goalies. Of the 127 soccer players with cancer the cases are the following:
Number of soccer players who have played on synthetic turf with Lymphomas: 49
Number of soccer players who played on synthetic turf with Leukemia: 21
Thyroid cancer: 6
Testicular cancer: 9
[No. 108] Are We Treating Women Athletes Like Guinea Pigs? (Woman’s World Cup 2015). A video presentation of players’ views on crumb rubber, heat, and general nasty qualities of artificial turf as a playing surface. Published by SFParks, 28 June 2015, on You Tubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb9uSsdAwjc&feature=youtu.be .
[No. 107] Ramona, California: Old artificial turf fields are health hazards. We are not sure which of the two items is the following is worse and which one is worst. (1) Old field lose the plastic grass blades (Query where does the pulverized plastic and broken pieces migrate to?); and (2) overtime artificial turf fields harden and that makes playing on them dangerous and perhaps illegal. Here is the skinny. According to a news report in Ramona Sentinel (17 June 2015), “[a]lmost as soon as custodians removed the podium and chairs from Ramona High School graduation ceremonies, workers moved in to yank up the synthetic turf that has been the school field for 10 years…. Ramona Unified Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Ed Anderson and Ramona High Athletic Director Damon Baldwin agree Bulldog stadium needs the new turf. ‘The old field being taken out was as bad as it gets,’ said Baldwin. ‘The field was basically rubber with no blades of grass left. It had become so hard that there was not much life left in it for us to allow kids to be on it.’ When synthetic turf gets too hard, ‘legally you can’t play on it,’ said Anderson.Some coaches from other districts had voiced concerns about the safety of the field, said Baldwin.Source: Maureen Robertson, “Out with the old, in with the new; School district outlines summer projects,” in Ramona Sentinel, 17 June 2015, at http://www.ramonasentinel.com/news/2015/jun/17/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new/ .
[No. 106] FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup sheds light on the unforgiving nature of artificial turf. According to a report in Shape (11 June 2015), “120-degree heat, turf burns, and standing water on the field are just a few of the injustices the U.S. women's soccer team is enduring.” “Make no mistake about it: Athletes hate playing soccer on turf. (U.S. forward Abby Wambach summed up the team’s feeling in an interview with NBC, calling the setup ‘a nightmare.’) The problem? Artificial grass is nothing like the real thing—and it has long been thought to negatively impact the way games are played.”
According to Diane Drake, former head women's soccer coach at GeorgeMasonUniversity and Georgetown, “[t]he natural surface [grass] is friendlier on bodies and aids in recovery and regeneration. Turf is heavier and much harder on the body. In World Cup play, the amount of time between games is very small, so recovery and regeneration are crucial.” According to Wendy LeBolt, Ph.D., a physiologist specializing in women’s soccer and author, “[artificial t]urf also requires more stamina and athleticism. The artificial surface is ‘more fatiguing,’ which can have consequences beyond one game. Resiliency and weather durability are the primary benefits of turf, and this is why so many fields are being put in. But there is also more give to the surface, which may sap energy.” According to Drake, “[t]he surface also changes how the game is played. There are puddles everywhere with water bouncing into players’ faces. You can see them spraying all over the place. Problems with heavier weighted passes [kicking the ball to where you want the receiving player to be, not where they currently are] for the less technical teams are visible already. Rubber-plastic turf doesn’t allow players to turn, run, and maneuver the way they’re used to, which can lead to injuries. I've had multiple female players hurt themselves on turf, almost always uncontested without contact.”
According to the report, “[w]women have some unique physiologic concerns too—a wider angle between our hips and knees, wider pelvises, and differently shaped femurs—which have all been linked to a greater risk of knee injuries. This means turf play may be even riskier for women than for men.”
According toBrian Schulz, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, California, “[t]here have been biomechanical studies showing increased frictional forces with artificial turf compared to natural grass. The increased friction increases injury risk because your foot is more likely to stay planted during a change of direction, causing the soft tissues of your leg to take the full impact of the force.”
According to the report, then there is the most notorious injury—the wicked ‘turf burns’ from players sliding or falling on the ground. “This problem is so ubiquitous it's even inspired its own Twitter account and hashtag, making #turfburn synonymous with #FIFAWWC2015.” “And it’s not just skin that’s getting burned! Artificial surfaces heat up much faster (and get much hotter) than regular playing surfaces. This past week, the playing field has been an insane 120 degrees Fahrenheit—a temp which not only makes it difficult to play your best, but also raises the risk of heat stroke and dehydration. Indeed, FIFA’s own published regulations say that modifications should be made if the temp is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.” Source: Charlotte Hilton Andersen, “Why the USWNT Has to Play on Turf at the World Cup, in Shape, 11 June 2015, at http://www.shape.com/celebrities/celebrity-workouts/why-uswnt-has-play-turf-world-cup .
[No. 105]David R. Brown, Overview of the risks of synthetic turf fields (4 April 2015). David R Brown Sc.D. is a Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc.; Past Chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health at Connecticut's Department of Health; Past Deputy Director of The Public Health Practice Group of ATSDR at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
If one looks at the number of studies on synthetic turf fields that have attempted to estimate the risk to young students' and athletes' from the exposures to chemicals contained in the fields, you will see the problem. The findings of each of the studies are based on a startling limited number (2 to 12) actual samples of crumb rubber (each weighing a no more than few ounces), on small number of fields most without with any testing of the crumb rubber (4 to 6 fields at most). There is no study that is comprehensive systematic assessment of the risk.
Instead, a natural experiment is being conducted in which thousands of children are being exposed on playing fields to rubber, 1) known to contain carcinogens and 2) documented to produce cancer in the workers in the tire manufacturing plants. The results of this human health experiment is to determine whether there is enough exposure to carcinogens in the synthetic turf fields to cause cancer in the children who play on these fields.
Now that there is strong indication that cancer has appeared in one segment of the student groups that have played on synthetic turf, (soccer goalies in particular as well as others) the experiment is allowed to continue with health departments standing by until they can obtain positively statistical confirmation of the cancer hazard.
Crumb rubber infill contains a large number of chemicals known to be toxic to humans. These include chemicals associated with cancer, asthma, and other adverse health effects. There is no "safe" threshold level for exposure to carcinogens. The only way to eliminate cancer risk from these chemicals is to eliminate exposure. No existing study disputes the inherent hazard of these chemicals; the studies simply draw varying conclusions regarding the total amount that these chemicals pose to children who are likely to be exposed when they play on the artificial turf fields.
The bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what the mix of chemicals is in any given field containing crumb rubber made from recycled tires. Tires themselves are manufactured with a wide variety of chemicals. Fields may contain tires from a variety of sources, and there is no source of information to identify exactly what chemicals, and in what quantity, are present in any given field. No entity providing the crumb rubber provides any quality control, identification of source, or analytical analysis of the contents of the rubber used.
Children are more susceptible than adults to a variety of environmental hazards, for several reasons. Children's organ systems are developing rapidly. A toxic exposure during a critical window of development can have life-long consequences. Children's detoxification mechanisms are also immature, so an exposure that might not have an important effect on an adult could have an important effect on a child. In addition, children have many years in which to develop disease. Cancer, in particular, is a disease with long latency: disease can develop many years after exposure. For this and other reasons, it is particularly important to avoid carcinogenic exposures during childhood.
There has been no comprehensive assessment of the data on cancer among athletes exposed to crumb rubber from artificial turf exposures. However, the evidence collected to date indicates a basis for concern and an urgent need for closer scrutiny. Most notable is the that the ratio of lymphomas and leukemia is the reverse of that expected in the general population for that age group. Such a reverse in the pattern of cancers present is considered a signal that an active chemical carcinogen is present. Given the high stakes, it is prudent to take action to protect children from this known hazard rather than wait for definitive evidence of harm.
[No. 104] From the looks of it, breathing-in tire dust is perfectly okay: A pictorial testimony. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 1 April 2015. The picture on the left shows a member of a crew spreading crumb rubber infill on an artificial turf field. The picture appears on page 9 of an industry publication touting the “benign” nature of crumb rubber (SBR) infill from used tires – athttp://ecoachesdirectory.com/pdfs/NIAAA_SBR_Rubber_Infill_Summary.pdf (also here).
If the irony (hypocrisy, perhaps) in all this is lost on you, please take a look at the following panels of pictures of crew sporting similar respiratory attire as they spread the harmless crumb rubber all over the fields. Arranged in reverse chronological order, what the pictures in the following panels tell us is that the “workplace” of the workers installing artificial turf fields includes also the site where they install the fields, and that their work (protected by breathing masks/respirators) is regulated either by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (https://www.osha.gov) or just by the application of common sense on the part of the contractors/employees engaged in this sort of work. If only one could view with the same degree of concern and care the health of professional, semi-professional, and collegiate athletes for whom the SBR-infilled playing field too is a place of work. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 94). Working (playing) in this toxic and carcinogen-laden crumb rubber infill ought to be considered an unnecessary occupational safety and health hazard and thus the use of the infill ought to be banned by OSHA. See related story at Crumb rubber http://www.synturf.org/crumbrubber.html (Item No. 40).
Panel # 3.San Francisco (2014). The stills below are from our readers in the San Francisco area and also from a video, “San Francisco tire crumb chemicals health warnings,” courtesy of SF Parks (22 February 2015) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9sAVZazKX4, showing crew installing SBR infill at the Minnie & Lovie Ward Field (2014).
Panel # 1. University of Arizona (Tuscan, 2010). The pictures below were taken by one of our readers on 14 May 2010, during a visit to the University of Arizona, where a crew was expanding the artificial turf practice field.
[No. 103] The correlation between certain cancers and crumb rubber infilled artificial turf fields grows stronger (Latest count on Amy Griffin’s list). According to Tracy Stewart, a principal at Turf Grass Forum (Medway, Massachusetts), the list compiled by the coach of University of Washington’s women’s soccer program, Amy Griffin, had grown to more than 120 athletes afflicted with one variety of cancer or another. According to the count received from Griffin on 2 February 2015, the athletes include some 108 soccer players (81 of then goalies), 6 Lacrosse and/or Field Hockey players, and 10 football players (3 of them playing in the NFL). As types of cancer, there are some 51 players with lymphomas, 19 with leukemia, 9 with testicular cancer, 9 with sarcoma, 6 with thyroid cancer, 9 with brain cancer, and others.
The story of teenage cancer patient Teddy Shapiro from western suburbs of Chicao offers a cautionary tale. According to an investigative report by Dave Savini on WBBM TV (CBS 2) (11 February 2015), this Glenbrook North High School soccer player, with It’s a rare form of bone cancer (osteosarcoma), “wants to know whether little pieces of rubber from recycled tires used on synthetic turf fields led to cancer in his pelvis.” “Shapiro played goalie, since he was eight, on various crumb-rubber fields in Northbrook, Highland Park and Schaumburg. A decade of diving, sliding and burning his skin on crumb rubber and exposing himself to the chemicals they contain. ‘It got in my eyes, in my mouth and then there were cuts and it got in the cuts,’ said Shapiro.”
“The 2 Investigators did some testing of local fields including the Sports Zone in Aurora and a field where Shapiro once played on Schaumburg Park District’s SportsCenter. We asked the lab, Microtrace, to test the samples to see what chemicals were being released. Company Vice President, Dr. Chris Palenik, gave us the results. ‘The major components were benzothiazole compound and polyaromatic hydrocarbons,’ said Palenik … Chemicals found in the crumb rubber have the potential to cause health problems. Dr. Robert Cohen, from Northwestern Medicine, says the problem is there has been a lack of significant, long-term testing to find out whether there is a health danger. ‘We know some of these chemicals do cause cancer,’ said Cohen. ‘I think the frightening thing is that we just don’t have the information we need.’ Inadequate testing of products like this is a continual problem in the U.S. says Nancy Cowles, who heads watchdog group Kids In Danger. 'Unfortunately a lot in our product safety system is backward,’ said Cowles. ‘In Europe… you have to prove something is safe before you can use it. Often in the U.S., instead, you get to use it until it’s proven unsafe.’”
Teddy Shapiro and his mother, Juli Shapiro “say with no family history of cancer, they would like to see further crumb rubber testing. ‘There should be more, I think more done. We need to protect these kids. We need to rule out anything that can harm them.’”
[No. 102] San Francisco, California: Soccer coach on synthetic turf and chemical sensitivities. On 15 January 2015, Susan Gerhard, a San Francisco soccer coach, spoke during the General Public Comment of the meeting of the Recreation & Parks Commission, saying that playing on artificial turf fields has affected her health that of her students. In a You Tube video published by SF Parks on 20 January 2015, Gerhard describes her becoming chemically sensitive to synthetic turf field and her students getting headaches on the fields, some asking for 3 and 4 times the water breaks than normal because of the heat of the fields. Go to Synthetic turf & chemical sensitivities testimonial—San, CA—at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjT7-46bSfk&feature=youtu.be .
“This is the first time we have heard testimony about people becoming chemically sensitive to the fields,” commented Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health (www.ehhi.org), in an e-mail received at www.SynTurf.org . “It is not surprising,” she added, “when you realize how many toxic chemicals people are being exposed to all at once—and in the heat—the exposures are greater.
[No. 101] Environmental epidemiology program manager at the Utah Health Department, Sam LeFevre, says we are starting to see evidence of long-term health issues relating to fake turf and its ingredients. According to a news report in Desert News (Slat Lake City, Utah) (5 December 2014), “[i]f your children play football or soccer on an artificial surface, they’ve come in contact with those tiny BB-sized pieces of rubber, used for padding. They’ve probably even swallowed a piece or two during a tackle. In some parts of the country, larger pieces of rubber are used in playgrounds, where small children play in it and roll in it.” According to Sam LeFevre, environmental epidemiology program manager at the Utah Health Department, “[a]ll 50 states have expressed some concern or hope to have better understanding of what the issues are. The negative effects are as the rubber deteriorates it could release particles, gases and possibly heavy metals. It’ll fall apart and become little particles. The glues and adhesives that hold it together start to degrade and becomes a powder that people can breathe in [and some of those compounds could be toxic]… Even the artificial blades of grass in the turf contain metals that can break down over time…. [F]or years, there wasn’t much evidence of long-term health issues relating to fake turf and its ingredients. When it first came out, it was all brand new and we didn’t see any issues. But now that it's starting to age, we're starting to see these types of issues … Our advice would be for parents to realize that the exposures are short term, just the time that the children are on the field, so it’s not a chronic environmental effect.” Source: Keith McCord, “Toxic turf? What happens when those football and soccer fields deteriorate?,” in Desert News, 5 December 2014, at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865617094/Toxic-turf-What-happens-when-those-football-and-soccer-fields-deteriorate.html
[No. 101] Connecting the dots—synthetic turf and developmental challenges. SynTurf.org, NewtonMass. 5 January 2015. The EPA has known about the carcinogens, toxins, and other harmful substances in tires (therefore also in tire crumb) for decades. The public’s awareness about the potential impact of exposure of children to these substances is slowly but surely increasing. As far as SynTurf.org can trace, much is owed to the pioneering work of Drs. William (Bill) Crain, professor of psychology at The City College of The City University of New York, and Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, former professor and acting chair of Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry and Rutgers University. In summer 2006, they published a seminal research paper on the hazardous material found in artificial turf field’s tire crumb infill. Because the granules are much more accessible to children and athletes than they had supposed, they decided to analyze a sample for two possible sets of toxicants—polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and toxic metals. The analysis was done at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of Rutgers University; Dr. Crain paid for the analyses. For more details, seehttp://www.synturf.org/westportbrief.html (Item No. 2). For other references to Crain’s works cited on SynTurf.org, seehttp://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item Nos. 04 and 30), http://www.synturf.org/lead.html (Item No. 25), and http://www.synturf.org/lead.html (Item No. 12).
A few years back, SynTurf.org referenced a video-documentary work by Patrick Barnard of Montreal, Canada— The Pimento Report / Le Piment # 007 Bill Crain: Lead in Synthetic Turf (21 February 2009) on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlm4UiQEE8Y . In the video, Crain focused on lead’s presence in artificial turf fields. An earlier video-documentary by Barnard focused on general remarks about playing on synthetic turf— Bill Crain Speaks About Synthetic Turf(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pud7WFZr65o – 27 June 2008).
Of course, we now know that there is much more than just lead to which children are exposed when they wallow in the mire that is tire crumb and tire dust. Crumb rubber from used tires contain polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium and vanadium. There are also 26 carcinogens in crumb rubber. According to the EPA, exposure to these can substances can pose significant short-term and long-term health hazards to people, such as irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer. See EPA’s list of harmful chemicals in tires at http://www.synturf.org/epa.html (Item No. 18). See also,
There is now another Barnard-production interview with Crain, but in this one he speaks not of synthetic turf; his emphasis is on the developmental challenges that children face in this day and age—and he seems to implicate parents’ wrong set of priorities contributing to the ordeal of growing up healthy. The video is “Pimento Report #88: Bill Crain and Reclaiming Childhood,” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16OI4FXPdiI&feature=youtu.be(20 December 2014). As one watches this, on cannot but wonder why then if we so care about our children should we allow them to wallow in tire crumb and tire dust, whose constituent parts have been known to neurotoxins and carcinogens.
In March 2014, Drs. Philippe Grandjean and Philip J. Landrigan pusblished a research paper entitled “Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity,” in LANCET Neurology, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 330-338 (March 2014) (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70278-3 ). According to the summary of the paper (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/abstract ) neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, Grandjean, from Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, and Landrigan, from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, had done a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Grandjean and Landrigan now postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, they propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, they propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse. Full text of their paper is available at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext .
The Grandjean & Landrigan paper sets forth 11 harmful chemicals that affect brain development in children. In addition to two other substances of concern—Bisphenol A (BPA), and Phthalates—the eleven are: Lead, Methylmercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls, Arsenic, Toluene, Manganese, Fluoride, Chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides), Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane Tetrachloroethylene (Perchlorethylene), and Polybrominateddiphenyl ethers (flame retardants). Of these, in comparing the EPA’s list of harmful substances in tires (seehttp://www.synturf.org/epa.htmlItem No. 18), Phenol and Phthalates are found in tires, as are lead, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).
According to an article by Alice G. Walton, “11 Toxic Chemicals Affecting Brain Development In Children,” on Forbes.com, 15 February 2014, at http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/02/15/11-toxic-chemicals-afffecting-brain-development-in-children/ , Bisphenol A is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor, and, strongly suspected to affect neurodevelopment in children. Phthalates have been routinely linked to shortened attention span and impaired social interactions in children. Lead has been consistently linked to serious deficits, including low IQ; its effects seem to be permanent, leading to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) has routinely been associated with reduced cognitive function in infancy and childhood. Arsenic has been linked to reduced cognitive function in schoolchildren. Tires also contain Toluene, which has been linked to brain development problems and attention deficit in the child.
According to Grandjean & Landrigan, as reported by Walton (supra),“the developing human brain is incredibly vulnerable to chemical exposures, both in utero and in early childhood, and these changes can be lifelong. ‘During these sensitive life stages,’ say the authors, ‘chemicals can cause permanent brain injury at low levels of exposure that would have little or no adverse effect in an adult.’”
It is therefore no surprise that the peril of playing on tire crumb infill should strike a cord with Crain in the summer of 2006. As child development/psychology specialist, he had know already of the impact of lead; the discovery of so many other neurotoxins, in addition to the presence of irritants and carcinogen, in crumb rubber may have come as surprise. One must then wonder what does the government (EPA) know, when did they know it, and why for so long they have kept it under wraps? Would any responsible parent really buy the hype that these fields are safe to play on? Crain—like others in the medical/scientific community—does not think so.
[No. 100] Faster aging curve among baseball players playing on artificial turf. According to a statistical analysis by Chris Teeter, “Does playing on artificial turf affect how players’ age?,” on BeyondtheBoxScore (28 November 2014) athttp://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/11/28/7296843/artificial-turf-age-curve-blue-jays-rays-baseball-woba of 655 baseball players who played at least three consecutive seasons on artificial turf fields between 1995 and 2014 on the basis of wOBA (weighted on-base average) shows that “playing on turf a lot early in one’s career can lead to a steeper aging ‘curve.’ This seems to fit the conventional wisdom associated with playing on turf.” wOBA) is a catch-all offensive statistical methods; it measures a hitter’s overall offensive value based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event.
[No. 99] Cautionary tale from the Hicks twins. According to a news report on Lex18 (12 November 2014), an NBC TV affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, McKenzie Hicks was twice diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same illness that afflicted the soccer players noted by the NBC report featuring the soccer coach Amy Griffin. When McKenzie needed a bone marrow transplant after the second diagnoses she also discovered that she and her sister Molly “were essentially genetically the same[twins].”
“[This] realization led to more questions—why had McKenzie Hicks gotten sick, and her sister had not?” One difference between the sisters was that McKenzie “was a lifelong soccer player, and a promising one, earning a soccer scholarship to Morehead in 2009. Since middle school, she said, she almost always played and practiced on synthetic turf fields and was well acquainted with the ‘little black dots’ that stick to players’ skin, clothes and hair.” “I’d play just about the whole game, every time, with slide tackles and stuff,’ she said. ‘I remember going into the locker rooms after practice, and just pulling down your socks and you had all those little turf pebble things all in my skin and everywhere. I’ve played soccer my whole entire life, and [Molly] has, too, except I’ve always played select soccer—real competitive soccer—and she took like five to six years off of competitive soccer to do cheerleading and other things,’ she said.” “The Centers for Disease Control lists exposure to chemicals, including Benzene, a chemical found in many tires, as risk factors for lymphoma.” Source: “LEX 18 Investigates: Crumb Rubber Artificial Turf,” on Lex18, 12 November 2014, at http://www.lex18.com/news/lex-18-investigates-crumb-rubber-artificial-turf/
[No. 98] U.S. Congressman asks ATSDR conduct an official study to examine what effects exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber may have on athletes who play on turf fields and come into contact with crumb rubber on a regular basis. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) is the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, whose jurisdiction also includes the Subcommittee on Health.On 9 October 2014, Pallone sent a letter to Robin Ikeda, Acting Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [U.S. Department of health and Human Services] (ATSDR), to express his concern regarding the use of recycled rubber tire crumbs in synthetic turf fields and the potential health risks that they pose. He asked the agency to conduct an official study to examine what effects exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber may have on athletes who play on turf fields and come into contact with crumb rubber on a regular basis. “Crumb rubber has been known to contain carcinogens and chemicals, but there is an astounding lack of information on how this product affects our health,” said Congressman Pallone.“And yet, we send our young kids off to soccer practice and football practice to play on turf fields made of this very substance.The fact that crumb rubber has become so prevalent and that we still know so little about potential health risks it poses is troubling.More research must be done to protect the safety of public health.” Pallone stressed the need for more research to be done to determine whether repeated exposure to crumb rubber increases the risk of lymphoma, leukemia and other blood cancers.Specifically, he called for more data to be made available in order to properly evaluate the adverse health effects that crumb rubber may have on young athletes, who are especially susceptible to chemical exposures.
Full text of the letter is as follows:
October 9, 2014
Robin M. Ikeda
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
4770 Buford Hwy NE
Dear Acting Director Ikeda,
I write today regarding the usage of recycled rubber tire crumbs in synthetic turf athletic fields in the United States. A recent report has highlighted that a number of cases of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and other blood cancers have appeared in women athletes who have also played on turf fields containing crumb rubber.
It is clear that more data is needed to evaluate the risks that exist from exposure to crumb rubber in athletic turf and its effect on human health. Rubber tires often contain numerous chemicals considered carcinogens, including benzene, arsenic and phthalates, among others. Another question that remains is whether exposure to these harmful carcinogens could be amplified when tires are ground into tiny particles and athletes come into contact with the material on a regular basis.
Given that children and adolescents, who are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposures because of their size and are predominant users of athletic fields across the country, additional study of this issue is needed. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s Principles of Pediatric Environmental Health, “Beginning before conception and persisting throughout childhood, children are often more susceptible to environmental toxicants compared to adults…[and] usually have increased exposures per kilogram of body weight, compared to adults.”
As the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the co-chair of the Congressional Recycling Caucus, I believe more research must be done to evaluate the risks of exposure to chemicals in crumb rubber and its effect on human health. As such, I respectfully request that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conduct a study to determine if human exposure to recycled rubber tire crumbs in synthetic turf athletic fields increases the risk of lymphoma, leukemia and other blood cancers.
I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to your response.
[No. 97] Amarillo, Texas: Doctors are noticing increase in cancer rate among children; crumb rubber infill on artificial turf fields the culprit? According to news report on KVII (ABC-affiliate, Channel 7 TV) (21 November 2014), “[a]fter Amy Griffin, a soccer coach in Washington state compiled a list of around 30 soccer players who have developed rare types of blood cancer, national attention is now on the issue [of safety of artificial turf fields]. Griffin says around 22 of those diagnosed, are goalies. She says they're the players who spend the most time diving onto the turf.” “Doctors here in Amarillo say they are noticing a trend as well. ‘Over the last three decades the cancer rate in children is increasing and it’s quite a bit, it’s concerning,’ said Dr. Turner, a pediatric oncologist at Texas Tech. But Dr. Turner also says we don’t know why this is happening. He says most types of blood cancer are linked to genetics, or certain viruses like epstein bar, but that environmental factors could be contributing as well. ‘Benzene,’ he said, has been shown to cause cancer.’ Benzene and Butadiene are both volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s, and are used in the production of rubber tires. In large enough quantities, they have been linked to various types of leukemia. It’s not the actual artificial turf grass itself that some think is dangerous, but what they use to fill in the grass to make it softer when athletes fall. It’s called ‘crumb rubber,’ and it’s not just found in stadiums, but also children’s playgrounds…. But, adds Dr. Turner, ‘it’s hard to tell an association vs. being causal.’ The EPA has yet to do a rigorous study on this link and refuses to comment to any news outlets, but studies conducted by the California government showed trace amounts of Benzene and Butadiene in the crumb rubber used in artificial turf. ‘I think it'd be money well spent to do the studies to look for any possible association with these products and leukemias and lymphomas,’ said Dr. Turner. A study done by the California department of resources and recycling says there is added danger for exposure to Benzene when the crumb rubber is exposed to heat, but that it has not been studied thoroughly enough yet.” Source: Solina Lewis, “Artificial turf may be linked to cancer,” on ABC affiliate Channel 7 KVII (Amarillo, Texas), 21 November 2014, at http://www.connectamarillo.com/news/story.aspx?id=1126515#.VHDvhbktBxB.
[No. 96]Centennial, Colorado: Mom wonders about artificial turf's cancer risk.In the aftermath of the NBC investigative report about the possible link between artificial turf’s crumb rubber from used tires and cancer among a cluster of former goalies, the media in local markets reported on the issue as raised at the community level. According to a news report in the Coloradoan (13 October 2014), “[w]hen Lolly Walker’s daughter Faye was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in high school, her mother was puzzled. The 16-year-old was a healthy, accomplished soccer player. ‘She started having trouble on the field,’ Walker said. ‘She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t keep up with the other kids.’ After a two-year battle which included chemotherapy and radiation treatments Faye’s lymphoma went into remission. But he mother never stopped being curious. This past week, a co-worker sent her a link to an NBC News investigation questioning whether crumb rubber found in artificial turf causes cancer. Crumb rubber is made up of chopped up car and truck tires, which are known to contain carcinogens.” “Walker contacted NBC after the story to share her daughter’s story. Her interview was featured on the Today Show. She said she hasn’t made any conclusions, but agrees more testing should be done. ‘These fields are really nice and it’s a really good opportunity for the kids but if it’s toxic then we need to know,’ she said.” Source: “Colorado mom wonders about artificial turf's cancer risk,” in the Coloradoan, 13 October 2014, at http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2014/10/13/artificial-turf-cancer/17182923/ .
[No. 95]Concussion and Artificial Turf. On 24 October 2014, Jonathan Crowl (Yahoo! Sports) asked “Is Synthetic Turf Giving Athletes Cancer?” at http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/daily-take/201410/synthetic-turf-giving-athletes-cancer-soccer-crumb-rubber-goalie-fields . The piece was more or less the same as any other news account following the NBC investigative that featured a college soccer coach who had discovered a cluster of cancer-stricken goalies who had played on artificial turf, possibly connected to them playing on artificial turf and being exposed to toxins and carcinogens present in the crumb rubber.There was one piece of information that caught SynTurf.org’s eye in particular—relating to the basic notion that greater acceleration brought about by the superb traction qualities of artificial turf fields results in more forceful collision/impact between players, increasing the risk of concussion. See. For example, http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 85 - October 2013). “Even worse,” Crowl wrote, “a recent report from The American Academy of Neurology suggests that concussions are more prevalent on synthetic turfs, in part because improved traction lets athletes accelerate and collide at higher speeds.”
At the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in March 2013, which was held in San Diego, California, the AAN issued a report on Sports Concussion, presenting the public with a Guideline Press Kit - https://www.aan.com/uploadedFiles/Website_Library_Assets/Documents/3Practice_Management/5Patient_Resources/1For_Your_Patient/6_Sports_Concussion_Toolkit/guidelines.pdf(18 March 2013) (or click here)entitled “AAN Issues Updated Sports Concussion Guideline: Athletes with Suspected Concussion Should Be Removed from Play.” It provided a “Summary of evidence-based guideline update: Evaluation and management of concussion in sports,” from the Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurologyby Christopher C. Giza, and others, approved by the Guideline Development Subcommittee on July 14, 2012; by the Practice Committee on August 3, 2012; and by the AAN Board of Directors on February 8, 2013.
One of the four questions that the report focused on was What factors increase/decrease concussion risk? On page 4, the summary stated: “In football, playing on artificial turf is possibly a risk factor for more severe concussions (1 Class I study, but small numbers of repeat concussions,” citing as authority Guskiewicz KM, Weaver NL, Padua DA, Garrett WE Jr.. “Epidemiology of concussion in collegiate and high school football players,” in Am J Sports Med 2000; 28:643–650. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11032218 . On page 45-46 of the AAN report, the Academy stated a “higher rate of Cantu grade II concussions was reported in a Class I study of injuries sustained on artificial turf (22%) relative to those sustained on natural grass (9%).”
Re-tweet from Kobe Bryant -- “This is @DrinkBODYARMOR athlete @sydneyleroux after playing on turf! #ProtectTheAthlete #USWNT http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/13/sports/soccer/players-threaten-suing-fifa-ahead-of-womens-world-cup.html?emc=eta1 …
[No. 94] For soccer players artificial turf is an issue of occupational safety and health. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 12 October 2014. For the last seven years SynTurf.org’s Players’ View page http://www.synturf.org/playersview.html has been cataloguing statements by sportsmen and sportswomen with safety and health concerns about playing on artificial turf fields—not on the mat-on-concrete variety of yore, but on the so-called “third generation” simulated plastic grass with synthetic dirt (infill) like crumb rubber. Two major developments in the past month have now converged to create the perfect time for all involved to discuss in earnest the plight of the professional players who toil on artificial turf.
First: The Women’s 2015 World Cup Lawsuit. After a month or two of threatening the world soccer organization—Fédération Internationale de Football Association/ International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)—and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) with a lawsuit over the playing of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada on artificial turf, a group of world-class elite women soccer players finally made good on their threat and filed suit with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Canada. “The group of players named in the filing consists of national team players from approximately a dozen countries, including the former world players of the year Abby Wambach of the United States and Nadine Angerer of Germany. Nearly every top contender for next year’s World Cup title is represented, although the filing does not name any players from host Canada’s national team.”
The gravamen of their complaint is that no men’s or women’s World Cup has been played on artificial turf—every one has been played on grass—and therefore now by sanctioning artificial turf for the 2015 women’s world cup FIFA and CSA are discriminating against women players because ‘no artificial turf’ remains the policy for men’s world cup play. The relief that they seek is for the Canadian court to order the games to be played on natural grass. The legal issue is whether the decision by the CSA to have the games played on artificial turf at all the five venues set aside for them violates Canadian law and the 1966 international human rights conventions and the convention on the elimination on discrimination against women.
The absence of a Canadian player in the mix of the plaintiffs need not lead to the dismissal of the complaint for lack of standing for the purposes of relief under Canadian law, which includes international conventions to which it is a party. Aside from equal protection of the laws for nationals, residents and transients, there is an economic/fiscal basis for standing by non-Canadians to institute this suit. FIFA will earn millions of dollars in revenue from broadcasters, sponsors, hospitality and licensing deals as a part of the Women’s World Cup in Canada. It will distribute tens of millions of dollars of that revenue to the national federations taking part in the games. The national federations will then compensate the players on their teams. Depending on tax treaty provisions between the host country (Canada) and the country of a particpant-national team, the income that the players will receive is subject to Canadian taxation. If a non-Canadian player can be subject to Canadian tax law then she should be entitled to the protection of Canadian anti-discrimination laws while playing (working) in Canada.
As FIFA is not a country it is not a party to the international conventions and it may have some sort of immunity from Canadian law. But for FIFA the sting comes from a public shaming—one that is piling up every day, especially after its choice of Qatar as the venue for the men’s world cup in the summer of 2022! As the blog on PostStar.com notes,FIFA is a “chronically misguided international sports organization” and its decision to have women play on artificial turf is “a terrible wrongheaded decision by FIFA, but that is what anyone who pays attention has come to expect from that organization and its fellows in international sports boneheadedness.”
An issue of gender equality and gender discrimination resonates far more with the general public than an issue of workplace safety and health, which is too often ignored by club owners and managers. It is rather well-known that club owners and managers discourage players from openly criticizing artificial turf in their venues. This may be related to the “no disparagement” clause that might be included in the contracts between the vendors of artificial turf and the owners of the venues, or simply it may be a question of labor-management relations/dynamics. Regardless, according to the lawyers who filed the lawsuit in Canada, “the players were given a survey in 2013, which solicited their opinions on various things, including the best playing surface for major tournaments. Many players thought if there was strong support for grass in that survey, it could lead to a change for the 2015 World Cup, but nothing came of it.” The players “also felt some national federations have stifled their players from speaking out publicly.”
Having the English superstar David Beckham lament about artificial turf is one thing—easily dismissible as a personal peeve—but one cannot ignore an issue that involves the voice of one half of humanity. Exhibit 1: As reported by Rachel Brady of the Toronto-based Canadian national daily The Globe and Mail, the National Basketball Association [NBA] stars Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) took to the social media urging FIFA to put the tournament on grass, while “[s]ome of the U.S. men’s soccer team have also tweeted their support for the women, as has actor Tom Hanks. The Women’s Sports Foundation has also joined the cause.” Most significantly, is the position taken by FIFPro, the Fédération International de Footballeurs professional, the World Players’ Union. It has stated that artificial turf is unsuitable for World Cup play. This is not surprising considering that FIFPro’s survey of national teams have consistently found that the players prefer natural grass to artificial turf.
The issue of gender equality and gender discrimination is not difficult for FIFA to resolve. It can—in its known boneheadedness—ordain that all world cup games can be played on artificial turf—men’s and women’s—thereby assuring equality! What FIFA cannot sidestep is the question of player safety and health.
The human and civil rights issue in the players’ lawsuit aside, artificial turf is an inferior playing surface. Period. If it were equal or superior to grass then the men soccer players would have urged FIFA to mandate it for their world cup games as well. If there is a picture that can paint a thousand words it is perhaps that of Sydney Leroux’s legs after a session on artificial turf [inset above]. It is an ugly reminder of the anguish associated with playing the Beautiful Game on an unforgiving surface.
One of the most interesting side effects of the FIFA/CSA lawsuit story is the number of women players who have spoken publicly about their experiences. For example, Heather O’Reilly, a midfielder on the U.S. National Team, and a plaintiff in the lawsuit: “Turf just changes the game quite a bit. The actual quality of soccer is changed. More importantly is sort of an injury concern. And, as you can imagine, slide tackling on turf—you can’t just get up and wipe off dirt and grass. You’re now talking about wiping off a layer of skin. A lot of male players even refuse to play on artificial turf, even for just friendly matches. And this is the World Cup we’re talking about.”Germany’s goalkeeper and reigning FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer told the press that “[t]he risk to get injured is very, very high [on artificial turf]. It totally changes the game.” “It’s a fact that, especially in a tournament where you have to play every three days, the recovery after playing on a turf field is not the same as on grass,” according to Verónica “Vero” Boquete Giadans, the Spanish midfielder of the Spanish national team. As Carrie Serwetnyk, the first female player inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2001, has noted: For FIFA/CSA to ask that these games be played on artificial turf is “like asking Olympic athletes, ‘Just go run on that cinder track. It’s no big deal. You can still run faster.’ As a citizen, I expect more from my country.”
The Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl summed it all up thusly for Bill Littlefield of WBUR/NPR’s Only A Game program: “Players, men’s and women’s, over the years have told me that they prefer playing on grass, that they’re more hesitant to do diving headers on artificial turf surfaces. And when it rains, especially, artificial turf can be tough to watch games on because the ball skids so much. The body has a harder time recovering after the pounding it takes playing on artificial turf surfaces, even the newer surfaces. And in a tournament that’s a month long, where the games come fast and furious, that’s going to affect the quality of the play.”
The women who have brought the lawsuit and their sympathizing colleagues do play on artificial turf, but they do so out of necessity for livelihood and doing what they must in order to build a foundation for their young league. As stated by Zainab Mudallal in the New York City-based Quartz: “[T]the field plays an important role: The ball bounces and rolls around differently on plastic than on grass. The surface temperature of synthetic turf is also significantly hotter than natural turf, which puts athletes at risk of dehydration and overheating. And because the friction of the plastic turf exposes players to scrapes and burns that aren’t an issue with natural grass, players’ cautiousness can also change the way the game is played—reducing the excitement for viewers. A 2013 survey of top female soccer players found that they were 80% less likely …to attempt slide tackles on plastic turf. A survey of Major League Soccer players found that an overwhelming majority said they felt plastic turf would increase their chances of injury, soreness, and longer recovery times after playing a match. One study …suggests that playing on artificial turf puts a further strain on your joints and leg muscles than grass does. Another study found the best combination to reduce strain and prevent ACL injuries is natural grass and cleats.”
On a national level—in the United States there has been great progress in moving away from artificial turf to natural grass in “specialized” for professional and semi-pro soccer. There are a number of reasons for this shift by the soccer clubs in the States—such as staying true to the game, preventing injury, player preference—but like all things in the world capital of capitalism it is mostly about money. In the early days of Major League Soccer on artificial turf the venues where the games were being played did not belong to the clubs; they were stadiums to whose owners the clubs paid rent. As the reality set in that MLS will never attract as many fans as these stadiums had the capacity to host the trend began to move away from these top-heavy expensive venues to a more intimate (read: smaller) specialized soccer-only venues that the clubs could build and own on their own—complete with natural grass surfaces that could be sustained because they were not for multi-sport use or non-sports events like concerts and such.
In the world at large however the move away from artificial turf has been slow, if at all. Nevertheless, there is some hopeful signs coming out of Norway. On 21 May 2014 the Norwegian Players Union (NISO) agreed to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will give the players a voice/influence on playing surfaces. More player influence on choice of playing surface was one of the key topics in the negotiations. Under the new agreement, the players will get to have a say before their clubs move to either replace or repair the playing surface. 8 out of 16 teams in the Norwegian Top Division play on artificial turf. In the last ten years, more and more clubs have changed from natural grass to artificial turf without taking the views of the players into consideration. When asked what surface they prefer, 77 percent of the players chose natural grass. According to Joachim Walltin, the President of NISO, “[t]hese are important points. Several previous processes have shown us that players have not had any real influence. The clarification of the wording strengthens the players’ influence in matters of great importance to their health and safety.”
As reported in SynTurf.org in April 2012, the Dutch and Danish soccer players are on the record for having rejected artificial turf, while according to a 2006 survey by the Swiss Association of Professional Footballers(SAFP) around 88% of the Super League professional soccer players in Switzerland did not like playing on artificial turf.In Canada—“[a]study done by researchers at YorkUniversity in Toronto backs up the players’ objections. They interviewed 99 professional players from six Major League Soccer teams during the 2011 season and found that 94 per cent felt it posed more risk of injury than natural grass. They overwhelming reported that the surface feels stiffer, creates more friction, and requires more physical exertion when one plays on it compared to natural grass. Among their responses were descriptive phrases like ‘pounds on joints,’ ‘cleats don’t slide,’ ‘body gets tired faster’ and ‘running in sand.” “’The epidemiological data strongly suggests that the actual number of injuries that occur while playing on artificial turf are greater than while playing on natural grass, particularly noncontact injuries, like a noncontact ACL tear,’ said William Gage, associate dean of research and innovation in York’s faculty of health, and a contributor to the published study.”
Second: The NBC News Investigation Report. The Women’s World Cup Lawsuit sets forth in paragraphs 28-32 the downside of playing on artificial turf fields. However, the stated downsides are superficial in that they relate to the behavior of the playing surface—hardness, heating, scrape-causing roughness, and bounce of the ball. What the lawsuit lacks is a count based on the exposure of players to the chemicals and substances of concern that artificial turf fields contain.A 2007 study by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and sponsored by Environment and Human Health, Inc., North Haven, Connecticut (www.ehhi.org) showed that the crumb rubber infill of artificial turf fields contained, among other harmful and toxic substances, benzothiazole,butylated hydroxyanisole, n-hexadecane, and 4-(toctyl) phenol. Benzothiazole is a skin and eye irritation, harmful if swallowed. Butylated hydroxyanisole is a recognized carcinogen, suspected endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immunotoxicant (adverse effects on the immune system), neurotoxicant (adverse effects on the nervous system), skin and sense-organ toxicant. N-hexadecane is a severe irritant based on human and animal studies. 4-(t-octyl) phenol is a corrosive and destructive to mucous membranes. Add to this group health issues posed by nanoparticles of carbon black and other compounds of concern—like o-toluidine, a known carcinogen—then one need to do more than just ponder whether playing on this surface is not potentially harmful. In Sweden, in 2006, the Chemicals Inspectorate provided the public policy rationale for why crumb rubber had no place in playing fields—it made no public health policy sense that an item (used tires) that was disposed of as hazardous waste should be grounded up and placed in playing fields.In June of this year (2014), a major European study called for precautionary actions on the assessment of chemicals even in cases where individual toxicants were present at seemingly harmless concentrations.
On 8 October 2014 the US television network NBC [National Broadcasting Company] aired an investigative report—months in the making—entitled “How safe is the artificial turf your child plays on?” Earlier—on 20 May 2014, as reported in SynTurf.org, KOMO News (ABC affiliate in Seattle, Washington) featured Amy Griffin, a former goalkeeper with the United States National Team and now head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Washington, who had noted a troubling connection between the turf and cancer among soccer players, most of them goalies. This was followed on 31 May by an article in the Huffington Post titled “Why These Goalies Are Worried About Unknown Toxins In Artificial Turf,” in which the reporter Lynne Peeples concluded with a quote from David Brown, Sc.D, Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc. “How did this happen? How did we end up with children playing on fields that we know have carcinogens in them?” One answer is in the article’s own finding that “Many state laws prohibit burning tires, or even disposing them in a landfill, due to potential releases of toxic chemicals.” So, the well-meaning but misguided environmentalists and recyclers decided that perhaps the noxious tire should be “recycled” or “repurposed” (i.e., converted into tiny bits of crumb rubber or made into rubber playing surfaces) and then put down where our children—of all ages—play ball. Here is a sampling of what some sources said and our commentary where one is required.
The NBC report opens in 2009 with the story of Amy Griffin visiting former goalies and other athletes in the Seattle area that were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma when she is told that perhaps their affliction has something to do with those “black dots”—the crumb rubber. “As any parent or player who has been on them can testify,” the report stated, “the tiny black rubber crumbs of which the fields are made—chunks of old tires—geteverywhere. In players’ uniforms, in their hair, in their cleats.” “But,” the story goes, “for goalkeepers, whose bodies are in constant contact with the turf, it can be far worse. In practices and games, they make hundreds of dives, and each plunge sends a black cloud of tire pellets into the air. The granules get into their cuts and scrapes, and into their mouths. Griffin wondered if those crumbs – which have been known to contain carcinogens and chemicals—were making players sick.” “I’ve coached for 26, 27 years,” she told the reporter. “My first 15 years, I never heard anything about this. All of a sudden it seems to be a stream of kids.” “Since then, Griffin has compiled a list of 38 American soccer players—34 of them goalies—who have been diagnosed with cancer. At least a dozen played in Washington, state but the geographic spread is nationwide. Blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia dominate the list.” The report is quick to point out that “NBC’s own extensive investigation, which included a review of the relevant studies and interviews with scientists and industry professionals, was unable to find any agreement over whether crumb turf had ill effects on young athletes, or even whether the product had been sufficiently tested.” However, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who performed studies over five years ago, “recently backtracked on their assurances the material was safe, calling their studies ‘limited.’” In a statement to NBC,the EPA said that “more testing needs to be done.”
As for the toxins found in crumb rubber, the NBC report notes that according to the EPA “mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and arsenic, among several other chemicals, heavy metals, and carcinogens, have been found in tires.” “Existing research has attempted to measure the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals through the inhalation of gasses and particulate matter, as well as skin contact. Studies have found that crumb rubber fields emit gases that can be inhaled. Turf fields can become very hot -- 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature – increasing the chances that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemicals can ‘off-gas,’ or leach into the air. One study performed by the state of Connecticut measured the concentrations of VOCs and chemicals in the air over fields. In addition to VOCs such as benzene and methylene chloride, researchers identified various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The report concluded that ‘the use of outdoor and indoor artificial turf fields is not associated with elevated health risks,’ but that more research was needed to better understand chemical exposures on outdoor fields during hot weekends and in indoor facilities, which showed higher levels of chemicals in the air. Other studies have looked at whether run-off from crumb rubber turf is harmful to aquatic life, or whether the rate of injury on turf is lower than on natural grass. Few studies have looked at the issues unique to goalkeepers—whether ingesting the particles by mouth or absorbing them into the body through cuts and scrapes is dangerous. While many studies conclude that the fields studied do not present acute health risks, they often add the caveat that more research should be conducted.”
Among the studies noted by NBC are one “published in 2013 in the scientific journal Chemospheres, which analyzed rubber mulch and rubber mats, concluded that, ‘Uses of recycled rubber tires, especially those targeting play areas and other facilities for children, should be a matter of regulatory concern.’ [Another is the] 2006 Norwegian study evaluated inhalation, ingestion and skin exposure to crumb rubber in indoor fields. Researchers identified VOCs such as xylene, acetone and styrene, in the air above the fields. The study determined that inhalation of such compounds would not cause ‘acute harmful effects’ to health, but that it was ‘not possible…to carry out a complete health risk assessment.’ Researchers also concluded that oral exposure to artificial turf would not cause increased health risk. [A third is the] 2013 study attempted to measure ingestion, inhalation and dermal exposure risk to users, and determined that the fields presented little risk. But researchers identified lead in the turf tested, including a ‘large concentration’ of lead and chromium in one sample. ‘As the turf material degrades from weathering the lead could be released, potentially exposing young children,’ the report states.”
“According to Dr. Joel Forman, associate professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital,” the report goes on, “in all these studies, data gaps make it difficult to draw firm conclusions.” “None of [the studies] are long term, they rarely involve very young children and they only look for concentrations of chemicals and compare it to some sort of standard for what’s considered acceptable. That doesn’t really take into account subclinical effects, long-term effects, the developing brain and developing kids. It is known that some of the compounds found in tires, even in chronic lower exposures can be associated with subtle neurodevelopmental issues in children. Those are always suspect. If you never study anything, you can always say, ‘Well there’s no evidence that’s a problem,’ but that’s because you haven’t looked. To look is hard. I would like to see some more research,” he concluded.
According to Caroline Cox, research director for Center for Environmental Health, even though “studies haven’t definitively established that crumb rubber turf is harmful the surface contains chemicals known to be hazardous.” “We know they’re there. The point is, let’s go with better alternatives instead of spending years and millions of dollars establishing harm. If there’s a better way to do this, let’s just do it.” Meanwhile, Amy Griffin continues to look for answers. “Now,” the report concluded, “her team collects paper cups of crumb rubber on each field they play on, handing them off to her so she can ship the granules to a lab to be tested. ‘I’m looking for answers, because I’m not smart enough to come up with them on my own,’ Griffin said. ‘I would love someone to say, ‘We’ve done some tests and we’ve covered all of our bases. … And yes, it’s safe.’ That would be awesome. … I would love to be proved wrong.”
 Ibid. The blogger notes also the plight of the female Indian sprinter Dutee Chand who is banned from international competition because her natural testosterone levels are too high. The International Association of Athletics Federations’ suggested solution: She needs to artificially lower her testosterone through drugs or surgery in order to compete.
http://fifprofoundation.biz/opinion/opinion_details/11 : “Over recent years, FIFPro’s Technical Committee has gauged the opinions of its members regarding artificial pitches on various occasions.Our surveys have shown that the majority of professional players throughout the world are still opposed to playing official matches on artificial pitches…. There is nothing better than a good natural grass pitch and for this reason FIFPro is opposed to competitive professional football matches being played on artificial pitches at locations where natural grass can be used without any problem. Consequently, FIFPro is promoting the qualities of natural grass (for example via the Groundsmen of the Year elections) and it is insisting to organisations such as FIFA and the various confederations that at least as much energy be devoted to the development of natural grass pitches as it is to artificial pitches.”
Constantine Poulos and others, “The perceptions of professional soccer players on the risk of injury from competition and training on natural grass and 3rd generation artificial turf,” in BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2014, 6:11 (doi:10.1186/2052-1847-6-11) athttp://www.biomedcentral.com/2052-1847/6/11 .
[No. 93] Shaginaw: More injuries on turf. Justine Shaginaw isan athletic trainer for the U.S. Soccer Federation and a member of the Aria 3b Orthopaedic Institute. According to a news report in The Plainville Citizen (Connecticut, 5 August 2014), Shaginaw believes that “[r] esearch has shown that as the coefficient of friction increases there is an increase in the rate of lower extremity injuries. This means that the more traction you get on the field or court, the higher the risk of injury. The common thought is that turf has more traction than grass and therefore we will see more injuries on turf.” Source: Adam Stuhlman, “Funds secured for artificial turf field at high school,” in The Plainville Citizen, 5 August 2014, athttp://www.plainvillecitizen.com/news/allnews/5218635-129/funds-secured-for-artificial-turf-field-at-high-school.html.
[No. 92] Málaga, Spain: Artificial turf gives children electric shock.Mijas is a town and municipality in the Province of Málaga, in Andalusia, on the southeastern coast of Spain. According to a news report in The Olive Press(1 July 2014),“[a] € [euro] 20,000 installation of artificial grass has been removed after it was reported to give electric shocks to small children on the playground in Butibamba Park, Mijas. Due to a combination of heat and the nature of the grass fibres, when children stood on the turf and touched the metal structure of the playground, they would feel a small electric shock. Though the kids were receiving the shocks, it was the mothers who complained: a band of Mijas moms led by Sally Munoz appeared on a local talk show chanting “We want a solution!” and demanding an exact date for the removal of the material. Soon after, the Socialist Party of Mijas (PSOE) had posted a video of this interview on YouTube with the provocative title “The PP denies electric shocks in Butibamba Park,” asking viewers to opine on the matter. The headline’s claim refers to a line in the show in which operational services manager Daniel Gómez, responsible for the artificial turf’s installation, points out the commonplace nature of such shocks, and goes on to deny having personally felt the shocks at Butibamba park. As a result of PSOE pressures, mayor Angel Nozal has addressed the issue, ordering the removal of the artificial turf.” Source:“Shock-inducing artificial grass in Mijas playground sparks protest,” in The Olive Press, 1 July 2014, athttp://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2014/07/01/shock-inducing-astroturf-in-mijas-playground-sparks-protest/
[No. 91] Major European study calls for precautionary actions on the assessment of chemical mixtures even in cases where individual toxicants are present at seemingly harmless concentrations. The authors of the study are Raquel Negrão Carvalho and eighteen other researches representing such institutions as the European Commission’s DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability; Norwegian University of Science & Technology; National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (France); Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA) in Italy; Technical University of Denmark (Department of Environmental Engineering); Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Masaryk University, Faculty of Science, RECETOX, Czech Republic; Analytical and Environmental Sciences Division, King’s College London; Marine Biology Station Piran - National Institute of Biology, Slovenia; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria; Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division, King's College London; National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, Bergen, Norway; Life Science Center, Örebro University, Sweden; Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology; Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Department of Environmental Systems Science; EPF Lausanne, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Switzerland; Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Università del Piemonte Orientale Vercelli Novara Alessandria, Alessandria, Italy.
According to the Abstract of this study: “The risk posed by complex chemical mixtures in the environment to wildlife and humans is increasingly debated, but has been rarely tested under environmentally relevant scenarios. To address this issue, two mixtures of 14 or 19 substances of concern (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, a surfactant and a plasticizer), each present at its safety limit concentration imposed by the European legislation, were prepared and tested for their toxic effects.”
“The effects of the mixtures were assessed in 35 bioassays, based on eleven organisms representing different trophic levels. A consortium of 16 laboratories was involved in performing the bioassays. The mixtures elicited quantifiable toxic effects on some of the test systems employed, including i) changes in marine microbial composition, ii) microalgae toxicity iii) immobilization in the crustacean Daphnia magna, iii) fish embryo toxicity, iv) impaired frog embryo development and v) increased expression on oxidative stress-linked reporter genes. Estrogenic activity close to regulatory safety limit concentrations was uncovered by receptor-binding assays. The results highlight the need of precautionary actions on the assessment of chemical mixtures even in cases where individual toxicants are present at seemingly harmless concentrations.”
SynTurf.org Note: Many of the compounds studied are present in artificial turf systems as they are also part of the tire and plastic products used in them. Players are exposed to the dust from these compounds, and more. What needs to be addressed as well is long term chronic vs. immediate acute toxicity.
[No. 90] Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania: Public health specialist says artificial turf studies do not prove turf safety. According to a news report in The Almanac (24 June 2014), during the June 23rd meeting of the Mt.Lebanon commission, “Dr. Philip Johnson, a public health specialist … said the existing body of research cannot be used to show artificial turf is safe.” “’The key questions are what chemicals are in this product, what chemicals are used to maintain the product and what will happen as these chemicals break down. We know children are vulnerable to toxic exposures early in life.’” “Johnson explained that child physiology is fundamentally different from that of adults - for example, children tend to absorb larger quantities of toxic chemicals. Since their metabolic pathways are immature, they do not always have the enzymes needed to break down chemicals, either.Johnson added that the health impacts of exposure can show up later in life.” “According to Johnson, one of the main reasons Mt.Lebanon cannot rely on the existing body of research to prove artificial turf is safe for children is that the studies are not tailored to child physiology. In addition, all the turf fields studied are different. The fields are in different areas of the country with different weather patterns. They are made out of different materials and receive varying amounts of use. Methodologies also vary significantly across studies.” “’When you read these studies, almost all of them say you cannot generalize. You’re looking for a scientific study to tell you if turf fields are safe. They can’t tell you that and I don't think that approach is helpful.’” “Johnson advised that companies bidding on the turf project release materials lists, which could be distributed publicly. He said experts could then assess the health risks associated with specific turf components.” Source: Nick Lewandowski, “Mt.Lebanon expert says studies don’t prove turf safety,” in The Almanac, 24 June 2014, at http://www.thealmanac.net/article/20140624/NEWS/140629983 .
[No. 89] More on cancer concerns and artificial turf. In May, 2014, we reported on a story by KOMO News (ABC affiliate in Seattle, Washington) that featured Amy Griffin, a former goalkeeper with the United States National Team and now head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Washington, who has noted a troubling connection between the turf and cancer among soccer players, most of them goalies. We also note that In August 2010, we had carried a story in which the Environment and Human Health, Inc. www.ehhi.orghad warned schools of a recent artificial turf study showing carcinogens and toxins in synthetic turf fields. See http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 88).
In a recent news article on the Huffington Post (31 May 2014), entitled WhyThese Goalies Are Worried About Unknown Toxins In Artificial Turfhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/30/artificial-turf-cancer-rubber-tires_n_5412140.html , the reporter Lynne Peeples concludes with a quote from David Brown, Sc.D, Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc., in North Haven, Connecticut: “How did this happen? How did we end up with children playing on fields that we know have carcinogens in them?” One answer is in the article’s own finding that “Many state laws prohibit burning tires, or even disposing them in a landfill, due to potential releases of toxic chemicals.” So, the well-meaning but misguided environmentalists and recyclers decided that perhaps the noxious tire should be “recycled” or “repurposed” (i.e., converted into tiny bits of crumb rubber or made into rubber playing surfaces) and then put down where our children—of all ages—play ball. Here is a sampling of what some sources said and our commentary where one is required.
Jordan Swarthout, 22, a former stand-out goalkeeper in Sumner, Washington, and now a graduating senior at Oregon State University: “’I loved playing the sport so much,’ [recalling] never worrying if the fields’ sometimes ‘heavy and stifling’ smell, which people have compared to burning rubber, represented any kind of health danger -- even after her diagnosis with a rare cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, in January 2013.”
Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council: “’My heart goes out to anyone who has to fight a disease like this at a young age … but I think it is unfair to single out crumb rubber.’” SynTurf.org Note: Really, Rick, really? You never say play on crumb rubber because the toxins and carcinogens in it are less dangerous for the players than pesticides and fertilizers. No. You sell this product by saying “In addition to keeping some 20 million used tires out of landfills every year … [i]t requires less water and maintenance, and its superior durability allows for consistent, year-round, all-weather use for more players. Plus, parents need not worry about their children playing on grass sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers.” And then you think “there’s ‘plenty of research out there to answer most of the skeptics.’ Fifteen independent studies, [you] said, ‘all validate the human health and environmental safety of synthetic turf and crumb rubber.’” Well, Doc Brown says your industry over-hypes “small studies, some of which they funded, and misinterpreting others.”
Ethan Zohn , 40, a former professional soccer player and winner of the reality-television series Survivor : [Echoing Swarthout on the intimate relationship between keepers and the turf] “questions whether that frequency of close contact might explain a seemingly disproportional number of cancers in the group. ‘Goalkeepers are closer to the ground, more of the time. Your face is in the ground, your knees are in the ground, your elbows are in the ground. Sometimes you get cut, sometimes you’re eating it.’”
Dr. Joel Forman, a pediatrician and environmental health expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine: “’Thankfully, cancer remains very rare.’” SynTurf.org Note: Really doc, really? That is all you have to say – cancer remains very rare. Assuming you meant among children who play on this surface, should you not be in the business of praying that it will remain relatively rare?The odds on that kind of prognosis into the future seem tell a different story, as continued exposure to harmful elements—especially when it is accumulative—is bound to increase the risk of affliction. According to the article, you noted that ‘kids tend to spend more time than adults on the ground, accumulating exposures,’ and yet you are ‘not so sure the risks outweigh the benefits for children,’ even if you should know that there is carbon black and butylated hydroxyanisole, among other known cancer-causing chemicals, in crumb rubber. Dr. Brown knows.
David Brown, toxicologist and director of public health toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc. and author of a report on crumb rubber report published in 2007, which warned of potential health risks, such as cancer and skin, eye and respiratory irritation: “I wouldn’t put a child on one of these fields. It’s clear that carcinogens are present.” SynTurf.org Note: In the article, Dr. Brown “criticized the industry with over-hyping small studies, some of which they funded, and misinterpreting others. Authors of an EPA report, for example, called their own study ‘very limited’ due to a small number of chemicals monitored and field samples taken.Despite the lingering uncertainty, Brown suggested enough is known at least to take greater precautions. Goalkeepers should practice on natural grass, even if their games are on an artificial surface, he said. And all players should take off their shoes, in addition to washing their hands, when leaving a turf field.”
[No. 88] Cancer Woes: Does artificial turf cause cancer?That artificial turf systems contain carcinogens is not a new story. In August 2010, we carried a story in which the Environment and Human Health, Inc. www.ehhi.org had warned schools of a recent artificial turf study showing carcinogens and toxins in synthetic turf fields. See http://www.synturf.org/ehhibrief.html (Item No. 5). In February 2012, we posted a story about concerns in Australia about the carcinogens in artificial turf and soft-fall rubber surfaces. See below at Item No. 67. In November 2013, we reported on a story from Kinnelon, New Jersey, about worries over runoff from artificial turf filed that contain carcinogenic pollutants. See http://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item No. 53). Now this--
For link to You Tube boradcast link see end of article
In a news report on KOMO News (ABC affiliate in Seattle, Washington) (20 May 2014), entitled “Could artificial turf be causing cancer?,” Amy Griffin, a former goalkeeper with the United States National Team and longtime associate head coach and coach of women’s soccer at the University of Washington, “sees a troubling connection between the turf and cancer among soccer players.” She has a list that consists 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: Goal keepers.” The ratio of goal keepers to field players is 15 to 1, 16 to 2, but “plenty of goal keepers that have cancers and I don’t know many field players,” Griffin said. “Griffin said she can't walk away from what she’s discovered, and she's not alone. Former professional 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 “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.” For more on this story, see Gaard Swanson, “Could artificial turf be causing cancer?, on KOMO News, 20 May 2014, at http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Soccer-coach-Could-field-turf-be-causing-cancer-259895701.html .
[No. 87] Two MLS Coaches bemoan playing on artificial turf. According to a news item in The Seattle Times, 10 March 2014), “A [Major League Soccer] leaguewide debate on artificial turf was sparked Monday [10 Marc] when Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen said his lineup decisions against the [Seattle] Sounders could be affected by what he called ‘a bad artificial field’ in Seattle.” Toronto FC’s home filed – MBO Field – used to be artificial turf until it converted to natural grass in 2010. The Toronto coach, Nelsen, told reporters that “It’s tough. You’ve got the travel and then you’ve got not just an artificial field [at CenturyLink Stadium] - it’s a bad artificial field.” Sounders FC coach, Sigi Schmid, responded by saying that “natural grass is always soccer’s preferred surface but took issue with an apparent singling out of Seattle’s turf, which is entering its third season of use.” He said, “Let me say this first, tell me which turf field is good in this league. There is no good turf field in this league. I don’t disagree, necessarily, with Ryan’s statement. I’d love to have brand-new turf this year, as would everybody else. But I disagree with the point of making it seem like Seattle’s is worse than the others. I think the others are equally as good or as bad — however you want to look at it.” Source: Joshua Mayers, “Toronto coach doesn’t like Sounders’ “bad artificial field,” in The Seattle Times, 10 March 2014, at http://seattletimes.com/html/sounders/2023098845_sounders11xml.html . On a related topic - for a brilliant article on how artificial turf is killing MLS, see brinkerdailey [Brinker Dailey], “Artificial Playing Surfaces Are Killing MLS,” on RantSports.com, 20 March 2014, at http://www.rantsports.com/soccer/2014/03/20/artificial-playing-surfaces-are-killing-mls/
[No. 86] New York City: Second Highest paid MLS player shuns artificial turf at Sounders’ and Revolution’s artificial turf fields. Thierry Henry plays as a striker for the New York Red Bulls. He is currently the second highest paid Major League Soccer player. On 29 September he missed the game against the Seattle Sounders, which was being played in Seattle. According to a news reports in the New York Daily News (27 September 2013), Henry was not going to step on Seattle's artificial turf. Henry “has never played on Seattle’s artificial turf field, an unforgiving surface he once said was equivalent to being on a synthetic running track or ‘playing around my house.’” “Henry, “who has a chronic Achilles problem,” didn’t “want to risk injury.” The coach of the Red Bulls, Mike Petke, believes that “Turf is turf. It doesn't matter if the game is on turf, concrete, grass, sand,” he said on Friday [27 September]. “In May  he also skipped a game on New England’s artificial turf field. Portland’s artificial turf - one of four in the league - is the only one suitable for Henry, who called it ‘the amazing one.’” Source: Stefan Bondy, “Thierry Henry to miss Red Bulls game against Sounders because of Seattle’s artificial turf,” in New York Daily News, 27 September 2013, at http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/soccer/henry-stay-seattle-turf-article-1.1470246
[No. 85] Breckenridge, Minnesota: Orthopedic surgeon says “Concussions are also more prevalent on artificial turf.” Dr. James Johnson is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Francis Healthcare Campus in Breckenridge, Minnesota. The following is his assessment of injuries on artificial turf surfaces: “The most discussed controversy about artificial turf concerns injuries. The first generation of Astroturf was basically carpet on cement. The second generation had longer artificial grass that allowed sand to be filled in-between the blades. This padding helped somewhat in preventing injuries. We are now on the third generation, where rubber and sand particles fill in-between newer blades of grass. Injury rate in high school players on third generation field turf appears to be similar to grass. College football injuries may be less and professional injuries may be increased, according to current available studies. More studies on the newer type of turf are obviously needed. There are certain things we know concerning injuries among different surfaces. Artificial turf causes more abrasion and more severe abrasions than grass. Concussions are also more prevalent on artificial turf. More studies however, are needed when it comes to ankle and knee injuries on the new generation of turf.” Source: Dr. James Johnson, “Injuries are worse on Astroturf,” in Wahpeton Daily News, 26 September 2013, at http://www.wahpetondailynews.com/health/article_6d08a98c-26bc-11e3-a7e1-001a4bcf887a.html
[No. 84] Sticky turf causes injury to football player’s knee. Kendall Wringht is a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans. On Saturday, 17 August, the Titans faced off against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul brown Stadium. The surface of the football field is UBU Sports (Dalton, Georgia) Speed Series-S5-M Synthetic Turf, which was installed in 2012. On a catch over the middle in the first, according to Kendall Wright, “his foot got stuck in the artificial turf, causing him to suffer the injury to his right knee.” “My foot got stuck in the turf, and when I got tackled, I got bent up and hurt my knee,” Wright said. Source: Terry McCormick, “Wright suffers knee injury in loss,” on 247 Sports (18 August 2013), at http://ten.247sports.com/Article/Kendall-Wright-suffers-knee-injury-when-his-foot-catches-in-turf-144639 .
What sports medicine researchers in Canada found was that athletic shoes that gripped turf tighter contributed to higher injury rates in football players than shoes that didn’t grip as tight. What they supposed was that scientific advances in athletic shoes are the culprit of increased injury rates solely blaming the shoes. What they didn't take into account was the turf.
When speaking to professional athletes who participate in different cities on various turfs made by different manufacturers, they say they have favorites and others they consider their arch nemesis! It has to do with the turf’s cushioning but also I would imagine the way the turf interacts with the athletic shoe.
Is it the turf or the shoes? I think the answer is probably a combination of both. Athletes need to choose the shoe that doesn’t grip too tightly on the turf they will be performing on. And turf companies and sports medicine biomechanics professionals need to start researching turf characteristics so as to make a better turf to reduce injuries.
[No. 82] Kingston, Rhode Island: URI’s kinesiological study of artificial turf is under way. Kinesiology is the science of human movement. It addresses, among other things, the mechanical mechanisms that are implicated in the study of such fields as biomechanics and orthopedics, and strength, conditioning, occupational therapy relating to sports and exercise. According to a news report on GoLocalProv (28 May 2013), a group of 42 volunteer students at the University of Rhode Island are a part of a study to examine susceptibility to injury in relation to various playing surfaces. According to Disa Hatfield, URI assistant professor of kinesiology, “little is known about whether athletes perform better or are more susceptible to injury on the various surfaces. ‘People make decisions all the time that amount to spending thousands of dollars to buy artificial turf or to plant one kind of grass or another, but those decisions are based mostly on cost,’ Hatfield said. ‘We think this study will answer a lot of important questions, especially about injury risk.’”
“Hatfield and her students are testing four surfaces – a hard metal plate, artificial turf like that used in many National Football League stadiums, and grass planted on either a sandy loam soil or on peat soil.” “The surfaces are being tested using 42 volunteer subjects who are asked to jump in five different ways to measure the height of each jump, the power they produce, and their landing pattern. According to Hatfield, jumping height and power directly correlate to athletic performance.” Hatfield expects “performance to be a little better on the artificial turf, but [one] may also get more ankle and knee movements on the landing because of the harder impact.” “Hatfield said that many people, especially women, experience knee valgus – their knees cave inward upon landing – which is associated with a high risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. ‘When we see knee valgus to a certain degree, that’s a serious risk factor for injury,’ she said.”
“The study is particularly timely because of increasing concern, especially in the NFL, about the high prevalence of injuries on artificial turf.” “‘The problem is that maintaining artificial turf is much cheaper and easier than maintaining live grass. The cost factor is much less,’ she said. ‘But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to show a decreased injury risk on natural surfaces, which have a higher capacity to absorb impacts.’” “Hatfield will spend the summer and fall analyzing the data that is being collected this spring, and she hopes to have results to report at the end of the year. Her research was funded in part by the New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation and with guidance from turfgrass scientists W. Michael Sullivan at URI and Jason Henderson at the University of Connecticut.” Source: GoLocalProv Features Team, “URI Kinesiology Students Test Turf’s Effects on Athletic Injuries, on GoLocalProv, 28 May 2013, at http://www.golocalprov.com/lifestyle/uri-kinesiology-students-test-turfs-effects-on-athletic-injuries/
[No. 81] ColumbusOhio: Sports medicine doctor expresses concern, caution over artificial turf. In a news report inThe Columbus Dispatch (28 April 2013) a number of experts expressed caution and concern over playing on artificial turf fields. Whether artificial turf is safer than natural grass, Dr. James MacDonald, a sports-medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said “‘The data are truly mixed. It’s not like the door is shut. This is still a debatable proposition.’” A study “in 2012 found that college football players had a 40 percent higher risk of tearing a certain knee ligament on fake turf between 2004 and 2008. Other studies have concluded that risks on the two types of turf are comparable.” Players have told MacDonald “how ‘sticky’ the surface feels. “The grip is so strong, they will plant, and the knee will buckle. That would give me pause with moving forward as a school to replace grass with turf.” When it comes to replacing a grass field with artificial turf, MacDonald “would suggest holding off, at least until the data are more conclusive.” Source: Collin Binkley, “Safety of artificial turf for high-school athletes still argued,” The Columbus Dispatch, 28 April 2013, athttp://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/04/28/safety-of-artificial-turf-for-high-school-athletes-still-argued.html
[No. 80] Zambian doctor dissects health issues relating to artificial turf. In an article in Zambia Daily Mail (14 April 2013), Dr. Kabungo Joseph, with nine years’ experience with the national Zambian football (soccer) team, addressed “some of the concerns and realities, which have been expressed by players and medical personnel regarding playing football on artificial surfaces.” “[O]ne of our strikers had to pull out of the team because of fear of having a recurrence injury to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which he apparently had suffered on both knees previously.” “Artificial surfaces have been said by the various researchers to cause an increased risk of causing injuries to the ankle and knees.” “Each time I have been with the national team on an artificial surface the common observation has been that of increased complaints from players regarding muscle pain especially in the calfs, knee pain, painful hamstrings and in some players even back pain. Physiotherapists always have to do extra work on the players to help them recover quickly after using an artificial playing surface. The other problem is heat, which is transmitted from the playing surface to the football boots. Most of the players will complain of the boots heating up after doing some work on an artificial surface and this is made worse if the player tries to cool off by putting water in the boots. In some situations the heat has caused blisters especially after a long session on artificial surface.”
According to Dr. Kabungo, “Since the surface of the artificial pitch offers very high friction with the playing football boots there is an increased number of ankle sprains seen. The sprains are actually made worse in those players who are carrying minor ankle injuries. The surface in my view is a serious concern to all the coaches and doctors looking after players who have either ankle, knee or calf muscle injuries.” “Since the surface can result in boots getting stuck whilst playing, the forces that are generated are transmitted to the knee and this results in injury to mostly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).”
“It is understandable when the player who had suffered so much agony as a result of the ACL tear expresses the fears when they are required to be part of a game to be played on an artificial turf,” wrote Dr. Kabungo. “The fears, which the players have, are in my opinion justifiable because of the various documented findings and experiences regarding the medical aspect of an artificial pitch on the players well being. Though artificial surfaces look very good and are of economic value especially in Africa, were resources are limited, there is need to further evaluate them as to whether they are adding value to the game of football especially in terms of players health. This is one area which has to be looked at critically so that the best can come out of the players. The players have to enjoy the game and not endure the agony of dealing with the heated soccer boots when playing on an artificial surface. Above all the injury risks, which are posed by an artificial turf, have to be given a serious thought.” Source: Online Editor, “Medical challenges of using an artificial turf,” in Zambia Daily Mail, 14 April 2013, at http://www.daily-mail.co.zm/?p=4102 .
[No. 79] Hong Kong: Excerpts say ‘keep off artificial turf.’ According to a news report in the South China Morning Post (21 March 2013), experts warn that “[c]heap alternative to fresh green lawns spells a host of environmental risks, particularly to children and sports players.” “Replacing natural grass pitches with artificial turf may reduce maintenance costs but it comes with a cost to public health, environment experts warn. Heavy metals such as lead and zinc are often found in the rubber layer of the turf and its use can drive up temperatures in already steamy urban hot spots, they say.” According to University of Hong Kong grass and soil specialist Professor Jim Chi-yung the rubber would become pulverised and could be inhaled. “’It’s particularly harmful to children who like touching and putting things into their mouths,’ he said.” The horticulturalist “Lam Tak-chak said heavy metals often found in the rubber layer were made from used tyres.” “The plastic grass, being non-biodegradable, would also add to the waste problem when it is discarded in landfills.” Source: Olga Wong, “Health reasons to keep off the artificial grass, experts say,” in South China Morning Post, 21 March 2013, at http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1195658/health-reasons-keep-artificial-grass-experts-say .
[No. 78] Not for the squeamish! A You Tube video on “Artificial Turf Injuries” uploaded by sfparks. Go to : http://youtu.be/k1_tKaeIUDM .
[No. 77] Another gem from sfparks on You Tube. This one is entitledChildren & Synthetic Turf, published on 20 November 2012. In it, leading pediatric health experts discuss impact of artificial play surfaces made of styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) on children’s health: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlu7jV69qo0&feature=youtu.be ; http://youtu.be/tlu7jV69qo0 . Related video:Children and Synthetic Turf, plus San Francisco Public Health Governance, published on 17 Nov 2012, in which leading pediatric health experts discuss children and artificial turf. The presentation includes “health governance” issues that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, SF Recreation & Parks Commission, City Fields Foundation, synthetic turf lobbyists, SF Planning Dept., and SF Planning Commission ought to address - http://youtu.be/c3sg2BNlLfU ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3sg2BNlLfU&feature=youtu.be .
[No. 75] College Park, Maryland: Another season-ending ACL-injury, artificial turf is suspected. According to a news report in the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, The Diamondback (6 November 2012), on 5 November 2012, the Terrapin Football program added yet another player to its roster of players out with season-ending ACL tears. The top linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield became the fourth on during the game against to Georgia Tech on 3 November. According to the report, “There is evidence the new FieldTurf Revolution field at Byrd Stadium could be to blame for the injuries, though. [Tim] Hewett, [a sports medicine professor at Cincinnati Children’s HospitalMedicalCenter] said recent studies show ACL tears are ‘something like 63 percent more common’ on turf surfaces than they are on grass… You could say if their foot had been on grass and the grass was wet, maybe there’s enough give there between the shoe and field surface that the foot might have slipped before the knee gives …. When you plant your foot with a real flat foot and you’re dug into the turf, then you twist your body, what happens is — with your foot planted like that — instead of the ball of your foot being up and your foot rotating, your knee rotates, and that basically ruptures your ACL.’” Source: Josh Vitale, “Hartsfield becomes fourth Terp to suffer season-ending ACL injury,” in The Diamondback, 6 November 2012, available at http://www.diamondbackonline.com/sports/football/article_1e891830-27e6-11e2-b850-0019bb30f31a.html .
SynTurf.org Note: In a related story, Brian Urlacher, the linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is reported to state if the NFL is so worried about the safety of players, it ought to do something about knee and ankle injuries. According to a report in The Boston Globe (“Urlacher: Focus on knees,” 16 November 2012, at page C4), “Urlacher would like to see more focus on knees. Specifically, he’d like to see cut blocks banned. ‘But that seems to be OK with the NFL, so they’re not too concerned about safety, obviously … They are concerned about long-term concussions, but immediately they’re not concerned about your knees or your ankles or anything like that. I think that should be an issue. Concussions are taking care of themselves.’ Isn't there a big difference between a head injury and knee injury? ‘Huge … Because a knee injury puts you out for a season, a concussion you may miss a game or two. Huge difference.’ Then he acknowledged the long term impact of head injuries.”
[No. 74] Dr. Susan Buchanan of the University of Illinois at Chicago is concerned about lack of definitive data showing turf fields to be harmless. According to a news report in The Plain Dealer (8 October 2012), “In the past decade, researchers have raised a host of questions about synthetic fields, including how safe they are to play on and the unknown health effects on players from the chemicals in the tires … In June 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert about potential exposure to lead on older synthetic fields.” “There is no definitive data to show whether or not the tire fill is exposing kids to carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer, said Dr. Susan Buchanan, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and associate director of the university’s Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health. ‘I’m not convinced that the dangers have gone away,’ Buchanan said, noting that some studies did show low-level off-gassing of chemicals. There wasn’t enough research performed or data collected to make a definitive judgement on the safety of the fields.’” Source: Sarah Jane, “Artificial turf: can it impact children's health?,” in The Plain Dealer, 8 October 2012), available at http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/10/artificial_turf_sports_field_r.html .
[No. 73] Buffalo, New York: Blogger suspects artificial turf as source of early-season football injuries. Jacqueline resides in Buffalo, New York; she roots for the Buffalo Bills. She is a teacher and a coach and quarterbacks one of the two-team game to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York. The following are excerpts from her blog “Artificial Turf Playing Role in Early Season Football Injury,” on Her Game Life, 20 September 2012, at http://www.hergamelife.com/2012/09/artificial-turf-playing-role-in-early-season-football-injuries/ :
If preparation is the best way to handle the concerns of keeping players safe on and off the field, then why, after just two weeks into the regular season, do we have such an abundance of injuries? Going by what we have seen trending thus far, we are looking to hit at least a dozen more head and neck injuries and about triple that amount in leg injuries before mid-season!
There is an overwhelming hype regarding concussions in football that push other, more serious, injuries into the background. Off the top of my head, I can think of a half dozen players that are dealing with season ending injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament tears in the knee (ACL), to a simple broken leg, and to an extremely painful achilles tendon tear. These leg injuries incurred, even have me, a full ankle reconstruction survivor, cringing…. Looking at the progression of football, it is obvious to see that players are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever…. College players that are entering the NFL draft that much stronger, heavier, and faster. With 21 football stadiums sporting artificial turf, there are injuries that cannot be prevented. On artificial surfaces players can change direction harder and faster, so hard that their knees and ankles cannot support the pressure. Traditional blocks that are fundamentally performed seem to be more violent as ever because players collide at faster speeds…. I challenge you to see which of your favorite players are not playing in Week 3 due to an injury sustained while playing on artificial turf.
[No. 72] Canadian professional football team looks at turf as a reason for epidemic knee injuries. The Calgary Stampeders are a professional football team based in Calgary, Alberta. They compete in the West Division of the Canadian Football League. Their home games are played at McMahon Stadium, whose artificial surface is Field Turf; it was installed prior to 2006 season. According to a news item in The Calgary Herald (16 September 2012), “Stamps director of medical services Pat Clayton is trying to get to the bottom of why the club has had so much trouble with knee injuries this season.” Dubbed already as “the season of the knee injury” claimed yet another when on 14 September defensive end Justin Phillips suffered a season-ending ligament tear. “As a result, Stamps director of medical services Pat Clayton has begun a formal study into the rash of knee issues, trying to figure out if there’s been a link between them and how to avoid them in such great numbers in the future… Potential factors include the turf at McMahon Stadium, the footwear the Stamps are using, fatigue, training and stretching techniques and, yes, just straight-out coincidence…. [W]ith the Phillips injury, the Stamps have 11 players … currently dealing with knee problems … The playing surfaces have to be considered a factor because many of the injuries — including Phillips and [wide receiver and kick returnerLarr]Taylor — didn’t involve contact.” Source: Allen Cameron, “Stamps launch formal study into knee injury epidemic: Phillips becomes latest in long line of freakish injuries on the team,” in The Calgary Herald, 16 September 2012, at http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Calgary+Stampeders/7251446/story.html
[No. 71] New study says leg injuries significantly higher on artificial turf than grass. According to a research study, entitled An Analysis of Specific Lower Extremity Injury Rates on Grass and FieldTurf Playing Surfaces in National Football League Games: 2000-2009 Seasons, published online in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (Vol. 40, No. 9), “Injury rates for ACL sprains and eversion ankle sprains for NFL games played on FieldTurf were higher than rates for those injuries in games played on grass, and the differences were statistically significant.” According to the study that relied on NFL’s records of injury for seasons 2000-2009, “1356 team games were played on FieldTurf and 4004 team games were played on grass … The injury data showed that 1528 knee sprains and 1503 ankle sprains occurred during those games.” The study “calculated injury rates for knee sprains and ankle sprains - specifically, medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains, eversion ankle sprains, and inversion ankle sprains.” “The observed injury rate of knee sprains on FieldTurf was 22% … higher than on grass, and the injury rate of ankle sprains on FieldTurf was 22% … higher than on grass. These differences are statistically significant. Specifically, the observed injury rates of ACL sprains and eversion ankle sprains on FieldTurf surfaces were 67% … and 31% … higher than on grass surfaces and were statistically significant.” The abstract of the study is available at http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/09/10/0363546512458888 or click here. Fort a news agency reporting of the study, see Genevra Pittman (Reuters Health), “NFL leg injuries more common on FieldTurf than grass,” on Reuters, 15 September 2012, available at http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/14/us-nfl-leg-injuries-idINBRE88D1KT20120914
[No. 70] Foxborough, Mass.: Patriots pad the artificial turf in the practice facility. 22 July 2012. According to a news item onNFL.com (10 July 2012), the New England Patriots have installed a new shock pad underneath the turf at the Patriots’ indoor practice facility Dana-Farber Field House in order to “reduce the likelihood of concussions.” It is claimed that the pad “reduces the chances of a traumatic brain injury by 50 percent when compared to a typical synthetic turf over a stone base.” Source: “New England Patriots pad practice facility to reduce concussions,” on NFL.com, 10 July 2012, at http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a73870/article/new-england-patriots-practice-field-adds-pad-to-reduce-concussions .
[No. 69] Stanford Study says football knee injuries more likely on artificial turf. In November 2011, we reported on the impending release of an exhaustive 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL that would show that most severe injuries to the knee and ankle occur on artificial turf. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 65: Ed Bouchette, “On the Steelers: Any wonder Baltimore hates us?,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 November 2011, at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187621-66-0.stm#ixzz1dHLSUMma . While we await that study to see the light of day, a new study published recently revealed that knee injuries at the collegiate level is more likely to occur on artificial turf.
We are referring to Jason L. Dragoo (MD), Hillary J. Braun (BA), Michael R. Chen (MD), Jennah L. Durham (BA) and Alex H.S. Harris (PhD0 - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, Redwood City, California, “Incidence and Risk Factors for Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in National Collegiate Athletic Association Football, published in American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 40 (no. 5), pp. 990-995 May 2012), published online before print on 5 April 2012. The data that the study analyzed came from the 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System. The following is the reproduction of the study’s abstract -http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/40/5/990.abstract (or click here) -
Background: Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common in athletic populations, particularly in athletes participating in football, soccer, and skiing.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance System (ISS) men’s football ACL injury database from the playing seasons of 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 to determine the incidence and epidemiology of complete injury to the ACL in NCAA football athletes.
Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: The NCAA ISS men’s football database was reviewed from the 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 seasons using the specific injury code, “Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) complete tear.” The injury rate was computed for competition and practice exposures. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CIs) for the incident rates were calculated using assumptions of a Poisson distribution. Pairwise, 2-sample tests of equality of proportions with a continuity correction were used to estimate the associations of risk factors such as event type, playing surface, season segment, and football subdivision. Descriptive data were also described.
Results: The ACL injury rate during games (8.06 per 10,000 athlete-exposures [AEs] 95% CI, 6.80-9.42) was significantly greater than the rate during practice (0.8 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0.68-0.93). Players were 10.09 (95% CI, 8.08-12.59) times more likely to sustain an ACL injury in competition when compared with practices. When practice exposures were analyzed separately, the injury rate was significantly greater during scrimmages (3.99 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 2.29-5.94) compared with regular practices (0.83 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0.69-0.97) and walk-throughs (0 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0-0.14). There was an incidence rate of 1.73 ACL injuries per 10,000 AEs (95% CI, 1.47-2.0) on artificial playing surfaces compared with a rate of 1.24 per 10,000 AEs (95% CI, 1.05-1.45) on natural grass. The rate of ACL injury on artificial surfaces is 1.39 (95% CI, 1.11-1.73) times higher than the injury rate on grass surfaces.
Conclusion: Between 2004 and 2009, NCAA football players experienced a greater number of ACL injuries in games compared with practices, in scrimmages compared with regular practices, and when playing on artificial turf surfaces. This latter finding will need to be confirmed by additional studies.
What does it all mean? According to a news story reported by Reuters Health (30 April 2012):
College football players suffer knee injuries about 40 percent more often when playing on an artificial turf versus grass, according to a U.S. study. The findings, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, were part of research that looked back on knee injuries among college football players to see when they might be most vulnerable to getting hurt… The research team examined cases of tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee that were reported to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance System. The surveillance system includes about 10 percent of schools in the NCAA, and the study period spanned the 2004-2009 playing season. [The research group] found 318 injuries to the ACL during those seasons, which translated to a rate of 14 injuries for every 100,000 “exposures.” Each time a player practiced, scrimmaged or played a game was counted as one exposure. ACL injuries were 10 times more common during games than during practices, and close to five times as common during scrimmages than during regular practice. Athletes were also 1.39 times as likely to be injured when playing on modern artificial turf as when playing on grass. The newer types of artificial playing fields are called “infill surfaces.” They have a layer of synthetic grass over a field of rubberized pellets called fill. There were close to 18 injuries for every 100,000 exposures among athletes playing on infill surfaces, compared to 14 injuries for every 100,000 practices or games that took place on artificial turf without fill, or on natural grass. James Bradley, the chief orthopedic surgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the findings support what's also been observed in the National Football League. The problem may be how good a grip players can get on the surfaces with their shoes, with turf perhaps providing too good a grip …. “So if you are in the wrong position, because your leg doesn't give way as it does on grass, it can distribute that force to your knee and cause an injury,” the chief investigator of the research group] said. He added that specialized footwear may help, along with ACL injury prevention training. “The way that you move and the way that you pivot and change direction will determine your risk of having an ACL tear. So even if we do have increased risk on the turf with the shoes, we can modify that by making sure that the athletes are moving right,” he added.
[No. 68] Wayland, Mass.: Wellhead Protection Website. Everyday decisions about land and water uses continue to affect the stewardship and sustainability of the local water supply in many communities around the world. We here at SynTurf.org would like our readers to know that the members of the former Wayland Wellhead Protection Committee have launched a new website, www.WaylandWells.com . Even though the site is focused on Wayland, the general information on the site should have lateral appeal to well water issues in other places. The site is a comprehensive repository of information about Wayland’s drinking water supply. It contains access to hundreds of public documents, including a vast array of maps, pictures, reports, recommendations and links. The site seeks to inform and energize the public to protect the town’s most precious resource. The readers can find everything from the most basic information to technical details regarding testing results, potential sources of contamination, regulations, and what they can do to help protect their drinking water. One of the goodies on the site is Wayland’s 2011 Wellhead Protection Plan, which was commended by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for its thoroughness and practicality. So be sure to explore the “Getting Involved” section.
[No. 67] Concern in Australia over carcinogens in artificial turf and soft-fall rubber surfaces. According to a news report in the Cumberland Courier (12 January 2012), the Leichhardt Council, near Sydney, Australia, will “investigate claims that artificial turf used in playgrounds could be a health risk for children.” According to the article, Dr. Mariann Lloyd Smith of the National Toxics Network has called for regulation of “the manufacture and testing of artificial turf claiming studies have shown some compounds used were a cancer risk.” “If people thought about what was required to turn recycled tyres into turf they would be asking for testing of the compounds,” Dr Lloyd Smith said. “Hot weather can release chemicals that children can breathe in and they often put things off the ground in their mouths, which exposes them to risk.” According to the acting mayor the council’s primary concern is the health and safety of children using the playgrounds. “If we have reason to believe that there is a risk to the health and safety of the children and carers using playgrounds with artificial turf we will of course replace any such turf and will no longer install it at any of our facilities,” he said. Source: Deborah FitzGerald, “Leichhardt Council to investigate cancer risk in playgrounds,” in Cumberland Courier, 12 January 2012, available at http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/leichhardt-council-to-investigate-cancer-risk-in-playgrounds/ .
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (22 January 2012), “[the] health of thousands of children may be at risk from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals from artificial turf that has become a popular replacement for grass on sporting ovals and school playgrounds around the country.” Here are excerpts from the article:
Australian scientists have raised the alarm over the potential dangers of the fake grass, and called for a moratorium on its use until its safety can be established.
An investigation by The Sun-Herald has revealed widespread concerns about the turf. These are centred on a range of factors, from the cheap imported products that are not tested for toxic chemicals and made from unknown materials to what makes up the turf favoured for soccer fields - crumb rubber that comes from recycled tyres.
Warnings have also been issued around the world about cases of turf heating up to such temperatures that it can cause burns and heat stress.
Residents in someSydneysuburbs have successfully fought the introduction of synthetic grass, including at Arlington Recreation Reserve in Dulwich Hill, where they forced Marrickville Council to reverse its decision. At Montessori East pre-school and school inWaverley, the principal, Bill Conway, said he was worried about artificial turf and it was being removed.
Mariann Lloyd-Smith, of the National Toxics Network, a non-government group of scientists and community members, said: “'Children are at greatest risk because of their activities - particularly hand-to-mouth ingestion. And we know that children are so much more susceptible to hazardous materials.” Dr Lloyd-Smith, also a federal government adviser on chemicals, said tests were needed and should take into accountAustralia's high temperatures. And groups installing the turf needed to think about the consequences and their future liabilities.
A series of studies in theUS,DenmarkandItalyhave again raised concerns about long-term intensive exposure to artificial turf. Numerous studies around the world have had differing results, however, with some arguing no increased health risks.
A study released in 2010 by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection revealed the presence of chemical carcinogens in the air over an artificial field, but the findings were reportedly “softened”' for public release.
An oncologist with the Yale Cancer Centre in Connecticut, Barry Boyd, who is also a consultant to the Environment and Human Health Inc, has said: “'While fear of raising concerns may be an understandable motive for limiting public information about risk, the long-recognised goal of limiting childhood exposures to environmental hazards must take precedence.”
The [New South Wales] Greens MP, Cate Faehrmann, said the government should back a moratorium until the health impacts were known. She said one of the most common ingredients used in artificial turf, a type of rubber, had not been subject to any human health or environmental toxicological assessment by the notification and assessment scheme or the Department of Health.
[No. 66] Canberra, Australia: Coach says it is crazy for women soccer players to play on artificial turf.Jitka Klimková, a former Czech soccer defender, coaches Canberra United’s manager in Australia’s Women League. Caitlin Munoz, 28, a member of Australia’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup team, is a striker. On Friday, 30 December 2011, her team played to a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory at Veneto Club in Bulleen, a suburb of Melbourne. The surface at the stadium is synthetic TigerTurf, according to the club’s website http://www.venetoclubmelbourne.com.au/sports .
According to a news report in The Canberra Times, after the game coach Klimkova “lashed out at the synthetic surface she believes contributed to a potential season-ending injury to playmaker Caitlin Munoz.” “Munoz was inconsolable after being forced from the field in the second half.” “Klimkova feels it played a role in the veteran Matildas’ right knee injury.”
Klimkova voiced concern about the impact of synthetic turf playing surfaces on women players in particular. “'I think it’s really bad for women’s football to play on the [synthetic] turf, and I’m sure if we played on the grass it [the injury] wouldn’t happen. “It’s crazy to play on synthetic because knee injuries can happen much easier than in men's football. It was also nearly 40 degrees and playing on the turf meant it was much hotter,” she is quoted in the Times as saying. Source: Jon Tuxworth, “Klimkova slams synthetic turf,” in The Canberra Times, 1 January 2012, available at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/sport/football-soccer/klimkova-slams-synthetic-turf/2407475.aspx .
SynTurf.org Note: 40 degrees (Celcius) equals 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In fairness to the player involved, she did not blame her injury on turf, saying that with knees it is a matter of bad luck and it was already sore the day before and, besides, she has had a history of knee problems. Here is thought though: Ms. Munoz, how much have you been playing on artificial turf? If a lot, then what you are going through over and over is the cumulative effect of playing on this type of surface.
In 2008 we reported on a review by Bill Littlefield ofMichael Sokolove’s, Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Here is an excerpt from http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 16):
Sokolove’s point is that in this culture, the way kids play sports is not particularly good for either sex. “For the girls, though, it is all too often disastrous.” This is because for a variety of reasons, writes Littlefield, “girls suffer more knee, back, and head injuries than men playing the same sports. At the most competitive levels of soccer and basketball, girls and women suffer anterior cruciate ligament tears about eight times as often as men do.” Sokolove writes, “What does threaten women’s sports is that far too many girls and young women are leaving the playing field broken up and in pain.” “he makes the his case with statistics, interviews, and powerful stories about women who might have been stars if their knees hand’t exploded” writes Littlefield of Sokolove’s work. Sokolove suggests kids play several different sports, because “specialization means more stress through repetitive motion on the same developing muscles and joints.” “he encourages parents to resist the ‘bullying’ of coaches who argue that without a full time, year-around commitment, a 10-year old athlete will fall behind her peers.” Source: Bill Littlefield, Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports. The Boston Sunday Globe, July 27, 2008, Ideas section, p. K6, available at http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/07/27/getting_played?mode=PF.
[No. 65] A soon-to-be released 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will back the Rooneys’ disdain of artificial turf as unsafe. According to a news item in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6 November 2011), “Grass is always greener ... and safer [.] Dan and Art Rooney have long maintained they prefer grass at Heinz Field instead of artificial turf because they believed it to be safer for players. They did this even though the condition of the grass field has been ridiculed on occasion. It reached a crescendo during the “Four Rivers Stadium” game played in the muck in 2007, a 3-0 Steelers victory over Miami, a game whose lasting memory was a shot of the nose of the football stuck in the mud after a punt. Turns out, the Rooneys were right to resist installing artificial turf, at least as it pertains to player safety. A new, exhaustive 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will be released soon and will show that most severe injuries to the knee and ankle occur on artificial turf.” Source: Ed Bouchette, “On the Steelers: Any wonder Baltimore hates us?,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 November 2011), available at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187621-66-0.stm#ixzz1dHLSUMma .
[No. 64] Laguna Beach, California: High School takes steps to minimize risk of injury to players. A while back we featured a mom who made it her mission to make the artificial turf field at Laguna BeachHigh School as a safe playing surface that it could be. See our coverage at http://www.synturf.org/staphnews.html (Item No. 10) and http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 64). We have received news that the school officials have heeded her calls and have taken laudable steps in ensuring the health and safety of the players by cleaning the locker rooms and testing for bacteria, acquiring protective practice helmets and long sleeve shirts for the games to prevent turf burns. In addition, the school has cleaned the field and tested the field’s G-Max, which at the line of scrimmage, after the grooming, reportedly has measured 170.
The hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-Max, a measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision. Most fields, after installation, have a G-Max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable. The higher the G-Max, the bigger the force the player will sustain; hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 56). Reportedly, the G-Max limit of 200 was apparently set years ago in order to give astroturf a pass. That was before the new generation technology of cushy infilled systems.
In some bid documents, for a rubber & sand filled system or rubber-only filled system, SynTurf.org has noted requirements that at the time of substantial completion of the filed, the system’s shock attenuation shall have an average G-Max value less than 110 for a padded system and less than 135 for a non-padded system, based on ASTM-F355A; at no time the G-Max value exceed 145 for a padded system and 170 for a non-padded system throughout the life of the warranty. Seewww.aturf.com/specifications/A-Turf_Titan.doc or click here. Theree is some indication that the National Football League has lowered the G-Max limit from 200.
[No. 63] Novato, California: Heat exhaustion takes toll on football teams. According to a news item in Petaluma Argus-Courier (23 September 2011), “Playing football at Novato High School Saturday [17 September 2011] afternoon was like playing inside a microwave. Football games have been played on hotter days, and the humidity wasn’t unbearable. But, mid-game temperature (kickoff was at 2 p.m.) was well above 90. Novato’s artificial turf is threadbare. Not only is it hard, but it also reflects heat upward like an algae-colored lake. By the second half, I was shedding shoes at every time out and injury - and there were a lot of injuries. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many players sick from what was apparently heat exhaustion. It wasn’t just the Petaluma players, the Novato players were also leaving the field by twos and threes. Not to be too gross about the whole thing, but you could certainly tell what color Gatorade the players had been drinking.” Source: John Jackson, “Heat and injuries at the Novato football game,” in Petaluma Argus-Courier, 23 September 2011, available at http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20110923/COMMUNITY/110929738/1371/COMMUNITY02?Title=Heat-and-injuries-at-the-Novato-football-game
[No. 62] West Milford, New Jersey: Concession stand is closed pending water testing due to nearby artificial turf field.According to a news report inStraus News (May 19, 2011), “The West Milford Township Board of Health closed down the concession stand located at McCormack Field, the site of the new artificial turf field. And the order came the day before the turf field was officially opened to the public last month.” “According to Kathryn Coyman, a registered environmental health specialist with the West Milford Health Department, the health department received a complaint that the water at the concession stand had not been adequately tested for potability, a requirement for any food service establishment.” “So, in a letter dated April 20, 2011, Coyman told the district the concession stand is not approved for food service operations.” “The district’s business administrator, Barbara Francisco, said water testing results recently came back within acceptable limits but may not have been tested for some of the materials that caused concern because of the turf field. It will be tested again, she said. It had not been tested for many years, if at all, because it was an irrigation well for the field that was tied into the bathrooms, but is now on the regular testing schedule.” Source: Linda Smith Hancharick and Patricia Keller, “Board of health closes school’s concession stand,” in Straus News, May 19, 2011, available at http://www.strausnews.com/articles/2011/05/20/west_milford_messenger/news/5.txt
Denise De La Torre, left and her son Ricki, at Guyer Field. Photo by Ted Reckas
[No. 61] Laguna Beach, California: Football mom calls out town officials for negligence and indifference. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 6, 2011. If you are a regular reader of this site, you will recall that last December (2010) we featured the harrowing saga of a football mom to get the school district to maintain its artificial turf fields in conditions that minimize harm to the players. See “Laguna Beach, California: Who is watching the adults?” http://www.synturf.org/staphnews.html (Item No. 10).
Laguna’s school board on Tuesday denied a claim sought by parent Denise De La Torre, whose son, Ricki, was injured playing football last October.
Since the denial of the claim was a scheduled agenda item, De La Torre took the opportunity to air her concerns about district protocols for treating injured athletes and disinfecting the artificial turf and locker rooms.
Her son, a junior, who suffered a groin pull during a practice, sustained another injury, a bruised pelvis, playing in a game Oct. 8, walking off the field in pain. After a series of emergency room and doctor visits, Ricki was finally diagnosed with a staph infection over two weeks later.
Earlier this month, De La Torre told the Indy that in all her hospital bills were about $40,000 and that she had filed a claim with the school for $3,500 “in unpaid medical costs.”
At the meeting Tuesday, neither the board members nor De La Torre referred directly to the details of her claim. However, De La Torre reiterated concerns about the expertise of the high school’s athletic department as well as their practices for disinfecting the artificial turf field and locker rooms, touching on a national debate about the relationship between artificial turf and staph infections.
De La Torre said that she has spoken to numerous experts on the subject and obtained data that she has shared with the district. While she submitted three complaint forms to the district, followed by letters to the district and to board member Ketta Brown, and while the district, in turn, offered written responses to De La Torre’s missives, she feels their response has been inadequate, and she said on Tuesday that her concerns have not been properly addressed. For one thing, she was told that the football field was sanitized in 2009 and that such treatment lasts for two years. De La Torre disagreed, saying her research revealed no product that could disinfect a field for such a length of time. For this and other reasons, she intends to keep pressing administrators to adopt different standards.
Because the agenda item involved a legal claim, board members were prohibited from commenting on the matter. Superintendent Sherine Smith, reached the next day, said that the district has “been very proactive about the field and locker room.”
SynTurf.org Note: We have learned the among the documents that De La Torre’s research turned up were a few from the artificial turf industry itself, recommending the procedures that De La Torre had been trying the school district to adopt. Here are a few:
1- An e-mail from Tom Enright, Division Vice President, Shaw/Sportexe, 1201 Roberts Blvd NW, Kennesaw, GA 30144, in which Enright stated: “While synthetic turf fields require substantially less maintenance than a natural grass field, they are by no means maintenance free. Under separate cover Jeff Threet with my office is sending you our currentmaintenance brochure. Every manufacturer in the industry recommends proper maintenance to insure the long term performance of your investment. The frequency of maintenance is often debated as the amount and intensity of usage varies so widely. A common example I use is that of a typical football summer camp I visited. This particular camp was for place kickers. Five days for 6 hours a day kids were kicking field goals. The majority were from extra point marker. This extreme usage kicked all the infill out of that small area. The coaches were unaware of the safety hazard created. They needed to maintain this area daily, replacing the displaced infill. It seems the current industry consensus is that you should sweep and groom the field every 100-200 hours of typical usage. Some schools are now requiring yearly Gmax tests as part of our base bid. There are now maintenance specialists who as a supplement to a school's regular maintenance will annually or semi annually decompact the infill, use amagnet to pull out any metals and spray a disinfectant.”
2. Information (E-mail and brochures) Carol Szatkowski at antimicrobial.com, dated 5 January 2011 3:11, which stated: “Hello Denise, I am sending a package to you that have product samples of FabricAide and SurfaceAide XL. Also enclosed are some of our brochures and flyers that you can share with the school. This is coming from Michigan so it will probably arrive the beginning of next week. It is important for schools to realize that disinfectant/cleaners and antimicrobials have differences. Disinfectants stop working as soon as they are dry. Antimicrobials continuously inhibit the growth of bacteria, but dirt and grime can overwhelm the coating. So the surface or turf still needs periodic cleaning so the antimicrobial can function. The warranty that came with the turf application warrants that the coating is still on the field as applied. It still needs to be cleaned of dirt, debris and biofilm so the antimicrobial layer can do its job correctly.
Thank you for your call!”
In addition, De La Torre apprised the school district of the necessity to test the fields for G-Max. In support of that position, she produced an article by Mark Dent and Brandon George, “Turf issue: Most area schools not regularly testing safety of sports fields,” The Dallas Morning News, November 12, 2010, which read in part:
Synthetic turf fields of area high schools aren't being tested or are not being tested often
enough to ensure athletes' safety, a problem that experts say could place football players
at a greater risk for concussions.
Findings from an open-records request by The Dallas Morning News revealed that most
schools don't test the safety and durability of their athletic fields on a regular basis. The
hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-max, a
measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface
with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision.
Area fields' G-max ratings. Most fields, after installation, have a G-max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable. "What's absolutely true is the higher the G-max, the bigger the force the player will sustain," said Dr. Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the book Football Physics: The Science of the Game. "Hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury." The only way to judge the G-max rating and thus the field's safety is by conducting a Gmax impact test, something few schools do. Dr. Andrew McNitt, a professor of soil science and turfgrass at Perm State University and member of the Synthetic Turf Managers Association, recommended that high schools test their fields upon installation and then annually, adding that an every-other-year plan would also be a worthy precaution. "I can walk across fields and think this feels soft, and when we test it's on the hard side," he said. "It's not an easy thing to perceive. You need to impact it."
Based on records obtained from 34 area school districts, only three - Waxahachie, Cedar
Hill and Denton - had followed annual testing plans. Dallas, Highland Park, Red Oak,
Richardson , Lewisville , Allen, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Lovejoy had tested
or scheduled testing at least once. The majority hadn't tested at all, although the Northwest, Piano, Lake Dallas, Rockwall and Carrollton-Farmers Branch districts performed tests, all of them revealing G-max levels lower than 200, after receiving The News' open-records request.
A G-max test costs an average of $750 to $1,000, a minor annual investment considering
that prices for synthetic turf stadium packages range from $300,000 to $1 million….
[No. 60] Injuries on Artificial Turf Fields. Last March 2010 we posted an item ( http://www.synturf.org/health.html Item No. 543) about the an injury study relating to artificial turf fields. Not intending to beating a dead horse further, the results of the same study is being reported on Safety & Health at http://www.nsc.org/safetyhealth/Pages/research_links_artificial_turf_to_increased_lower-extremity_injuries.aspx . Here is the verbatim entry: “Research links artificial turf to increased lower-extremity injuries. Playing on the artificial surface FieldTurf increases knee and ankle injuries among professional football players, indicates research presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Association. The study examined injuries that occurred to players in the National Football League between 2002 and 2008, and found teams that played on FieldTurf had a 27 percent higher lower-extremity injury rate than those that played on natural surfaces. According to a press release from the Rosemont, IL-based AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the greatest difference was seen among injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament and eversion ankle sprains -- where the ankle twists outward. Playing on FieldTurf was associated with an 88 percent greater risk of ACL injury and a 48 percent increase in eversion ankle sprains. Lead author Elliott B. Hershman stressed in the press release that the study only focused on NFL players and called for further study to determine what impact, if any, playing on FieldTurf had among younger players or those playing different sports, such as soccer.”
[No. 59] Chicago, Illinois: Experts tackle the safety of artificial turf fields. In early April 2011 we posted a story about a grassroots organization in Chicago convening a panel to discuss the adverse impact of artificial turf fields on the human health and the environment. See http://www.synturf.org/grassrootsnotes.html (Item No. 58). We are now pleased to update that story by referring you to You Tube for a look at “Toxic Chemicals: The Safety of Synthetic Fields and How Environmental Laws are Failing Our Children” forum held on Monday, March 21, 2011 at the Notebart Museum, Chicago, Illinois athttp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=03CD7E15109B78B1 .
[No. 58] San Diego, Calif.: Punt returner busts tibia and fibula when cutting back on artificial turf. Greg Allen is an 18-year football player for the HilltopHigh School in San Diego. Last October  he busted his right tibia and fibula. According to a news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune (March 15, 2011) this what happened: He was returning a punt down the left sideline … when he saw daylight… “He could see his blocks developing downfield. With all that space to his right, he had a chance to break the play open, if only, if only, if only -- crack. ‘I was trying to go for a cutback,’ said Allen, whose leg caught in the football turf. ‘It didn’t quite go as I planned it.’” Source: Michael Gehlken, “Prep star is coming back from a bad break,” in the San Diego Union-Tribune, March 15, 2011, available at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/mar/15/prep-star-coming-back-bad-break/
[No. 57] Calcutta, India: Rugby Union opposes artificial turf field for National Games in February. The preparations of India’s 34th National Games are underway. They are due to open on February 12, 2011. According to a news item in The Telegraph (December 30, 2010), the Indian Rugby Football Union is not very happy with the installation of artificial turf field at the venue for their games at Sili. “The stadium there is not suitable for rugby. An artificial grass surface cannot be laid because it will cause injury when players slide to tackle. Instead, the surface at Birsa Munda Stadium can be improved in a month’s time,” unless grass can be laid at Sili in the next 20 days. Source: Arun Kumar Thakur, “Tech thumbs up to Games,” in The Telegraph, December 30, 2010, available at http://www.telegraphindia.com/1101231/jsp/frontpage/story_13373580.jsp .
[No. 56] What’s your artificial turf field’s G-Max? According to a news report in TheDallas Morning News (November 12, 2010), “The hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-max, a measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision. Most fields, after installation, have a G-max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable.” “Findings from an open-records request by The Dallas Morning News revealed that most schools don't test the safety and durability of their athletic fields on a regular basis.” According to Dr. Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the book Football Physics: The Science of the Game, “What’s absolutely true is the higher the G-max, the bigger the force the player will sustain. Hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury.” “The only way to judge the G-max rating and thus the field's safety is by conducting a G-max impact test, something few schools do.” “Dr. Andrew McNitt, a professor of soil science and turfgrass at PennStateUniversity and member of the Synthetic Turf Managers Association, recommended that high schools test their fields upon installation and then annually, adding that an every-other-year plan would also be a worthy precaution.” Source: By Mark Dent and Brandon George, “Turf issue: Most area schools not regularly testing safety of sports fields,” in The Dallas Morning News, November 12, 2010, available at http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-1ahsgmax_11spo.ART.State.Edition1.4b32a36.html
[No. 55] Salt Lake City, Utah: Artificial playing surfaces may add to greater injury in an extended season. Over the years, SynTurf.org has published items that reflect the attitude of professional football and soccer players toward artificial playing surfaces. Year after year, the NFL Players Association polls reveal a persistent revulsion on the part of the players toward fake grass due to the wear and tear that these surfaces inflict on the athletes. These surveys and other items relevant to them are available at http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item Nos. 24, 41, 45) and http://www.synturf.org/playersview.html (Item Nos. 3, 4, 5, 14, 24).
We have also expressed the view every now and then – worth repeating and often – artificial turf ought to be made an issue in the player-management talks when it comes to collective bargaining, with players insisting that NFL moves away from artificial grass. To eliminate the question of fake grass under the domed venues, all NFL games – as well as other field games - should be played in open air and on natural grass. Too often the venal interests of owners and managers eclipse the legitimate concerns of the players who keep seeing their careers getting cut short or tortured because of the fake grass playing surfaces.
1. The NFL concussion rate is so serious that Congress is looking into it. 2. Many NFL teams are now playing on a synthetic turf that, according to one study, has an injury rate that is 27 percent higher than on grass. 3. The lifespan of an NFL player is about 20 years shorter than the average American male. 4. Players are bigger and faster and harder-hitting (read: more dangerous) than ever.
So what does the NFL want to do? Add two more games to the regular season.
Doesn't this just sound like a perfect storm of events for increasing the injury rate, not reducing it?
On Sunday [October 3, 2010], two Redskins' defenders crushed Michael Vick like a walnut and knocked him out of the game, perhaps for weeks. The Giants bounced Jay Cutler's head off the turf like a basketball, and he exited the game with a concussion. Then they did the same to his replacement, Todd Collins. Five starting quarterbacks have already been sidelined by injuries after just four weeks of the season.
Running backs Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, Clinton Portis, Ryan Grant, Chris Johnson and Ryan Matthews are already gimpy or gone. Superstar receiver Andre Johnson was unable to play last week because of an ankle injury, and All-Pro safety Bob Sanders is out for the year.
It's no wonder. Thirty years ago, there was one player in the entire NFL who weighed 300 pounds. In the last few years, there have been as many as 400 of them in fall camp. And yet players are faster than ever … As if the game weren't fast enough, they play on a green carpet. Add steroids to the mix — c'mon, you don't think they're part of the game? — and, voila, you've got carnage….
Now the NFL wants to add two more games' worth of collisions to its regular season. That's two more games at the end of the season, when players are already fatigued and more injury-prone. It means shortened careers. It means a nine-year career becomes the equivalent of the current 10-year career ….
Nobody put it better than Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts when she wrote, "Fans will only notice the effects of an 18-game season if the quality of play deteriorates. When does the quality of players' lives enter the equation?"…
There's a reason that nobody plays 18 games in a season at any level — little league, high school, college or pro. It's too hard on players. That's why they're the only sport that plays only one game per week. Baseball can play 162 games, basketball 82, but football has its limits. The NFL played 12-game schedules until it went to 14 games in 1961 and then 16 games in 1978 and soon it will be 18. Where will it stop?
The extra games reduce the importance and drama of regular-season games, and they wear out players. There is only one reason the league is expanding its schedule. You guessed it: Money. Nobody is really thinking of the players.
[No. 54] UCLA’s football players dogged by artificial turf. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times (August 12, 2010), the UCLA’s defensive end, Datone Jones, suffered a broken foot injury during practice on synthetic turf on Tuesday, August 10. “Jones suffered a broken right foot running on the turf during practice … and will have surgery Friday [August 13] to insert a screw to hold together his fifth metatarsal.”
According to the coach Rick Neuheisel, the injury occurred when Jones was “running, making a play on quarterback, and stepped in an awkward way and put a little pressure on that bone.” According to the report, “It was another in a handful of serious injuries that have occurred in non-contact situations on the synthetic turf the last few seasons.”
A former UCLA linebacker Christian Taylor told the Times “I hate that surface. I don’t know if they laid it out wrong or what. It’s very slippery. You can’t get your feet under you.” “Several players, past and present, have complained about the surface, saying it is uneven and cleats often get caught. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Sermons suffered a fractured left femur during spring practice while participating in a one-on-one passing drill on the turf. ‘I just ran up and planted my leg and the bone snapped,’ Sermons said. ‘There was no contact.’ When asked about the field, Sermons said, ‘There have been a few players hurt in that same spot.’”
On one occasion, the former quarterbacks “Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan suffered injuries on consecutive plays during spring practice in 2008. Cowan injured his knee stepping up in the pocket to throw a pass and was lost for the season. Olson broke a bone in his foot on a handoff. Olson reinjured the foot the next summer and missed the season.” According to Neuheisel “Ben was a freak deal. Ben was probably wearing the wrong shoe for a guy as big as he is.” “In 2007, prior to Neuheisel's arrival, tailback Raymond Carter was jogging through an agility drill when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. ‘I was trying to cut and my cleat got stuck in the turf,’ Carter said at the time. Last August, tackle Micah Kia tore ligaments in his knee and was lost for the season. He said at the time that he was injured when he tried to plant his leg into the turf.” Source: Chris Foster, “UCLA’s Datone Jones to have surgery on broken foot,” in Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2010, available http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-0812-ucla-football-20100812,0,5669340.story .
SynTurf.org Note: In the same report, coach Rick Neuheisel pointed “We’re well within the life span” of the turf and there is no “scientific evidence” that shows the Bruins’ turf is different from other synthetic fields. “I do not believe these injuries are because of the turf.I believe that these are fast players who get a little out of control,” Neuheisel said.
Just an afterthought, Coach Neuheisel – Maybe you should care more about the health of your athletes, get the spot fixed. As for fast players who get out of control – have you considered some of the reasons why the players are fast – maybe the traction of these fields adds to their speed. Out of control – try making those playbook sharp cuts on the unforgiving turf. Lastly, check out some of the biomechanical studies that we post on this site (page) from time to time. There is no excuse for a coach to come across like a dumb jock.
[No. 53] MLB: Turf injury reported for Mets’ Reyes. According to a news story on Mets Blog (July 1, 2010), “The Mets' worst fears about playing a series on artificial turf may have been realized last night [June 30]. Jose Reyes was a late scratch from the lineup with a stiff right side -- an injury the Mets were calling "turf related" before they beat the Marlins 6-5 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Source: Mike Puma, “Reyes' scratch blamed on turf,” on Mets Blog, July 1, 2010, available at http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/mets/reyes_scratch_blamed_on_turf_qv3aqmiwILOQggdfgD6DbL .
[No. 52] Giants players weary about artificial turf at Meadowlands.Domenik Hixon a wide receiver and return specialist for the New York Giants of the National Football League. During minicamp, on June 15, 2010, during minicamp, “Hixon crumpled to the new FieldTurf untouched on a punt return and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee,” according to eyewitness account by safety safety Antrel Rolle. “I was right there when it happened and I saw it right away,” Rolle told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday after the Giants’ final practice of veterans’ minicamp. “And I was like, ‘Damn, it don’t look good.’ He didn't make a cut or anything. It just got caught in the turf.”
When the Giants took to the field on June 15, “some players said the turf felt soft and slippery.” “I thought it was real slippery,” wide receiver Steve Smith said. “We were all slipping and stuff. Hopefully it settles in when more people do stuff on it.” “Rolle said he couldn’t put his finger on what the turf felt like.” “I don't know what it was,” Rolle said. “My feet were burning at the bottom on the turf. I was slipping on each and every play. It just didn't feel good to me at all. I can't lie to you about that. I am not one to really complain or make excuses or anything but they should definitely look into that as far as playing on that field in the future during the season.” “Rolle said he initially thought he was the only one who felt a burning sensation in his feet.” “I thought maybe it was just me and my cleats,” Rolle said. “But everyone's feet were burning, guys had a hard time gripping, they were getting caught a lot.” Source: Ohm Youngmisuk, “Rolle believes turf caused Hixon's injury,” on ESPN, in June 17, 2010,
[No. 51] Rays’ outfielder is ordered off the artificial turf. According to a news story on KFFL.com (June 6, 2010) “Tampa Bay Rays OF Carl Crawford sat out [f]or the second time in the last three games Thursday, June 10, for what manager Joe Maddon called "preventative maintenance," according to The Associated Press. Crawford pinch ran and stole a base in the ninth inning. "There's nothing wrong," Maddon said. "We just want to get him off his feet, especially on the (artificial) turf. He's always had trouble with this particular field." Source: “Carl Crawford out again Thursday,” on KFFL.com, June 6, 2010, available at http://www.kffl.com/gnews.php?id=649993 .
[No. 50] Turf Toe – A Primer. The following is from University of Wisconsin Badgers’ Sports Medicine Corner: Ryan Dean, “A look at the often-misunderstood and painful condition of turf toe,” on UWbadgers.com, June 2, 2010, available at http://www.uwbadgers.com/genrel/060210aab.htmlor click here. Here are a few excerpts from the longer memo:
“What is it? Turf toe is an injury of the foot. It received its name from its association with athletes that participate on harder surfaces such as artificial turf.”
“Turf toe could keep an athlete sidelined anywhere from a few hours to an entire season depending on the severity of the injury.”
“Who’s at risk? While anyone can suffer from turf toe, athletes involved in running and/or jumping sports are at a higher risk. Athletes that run on harder surfaces such as hardwood, tracks, and artificial turf are also at higher risks because these surfaces have less give than a softer surface such as grass.”
[No. 49] Eagles safety Marlin Jackson injured on artificial turf. According to a news story in the Burlington County Times (June 2, 2010), on Tuesday, 1, 2010, during a practice session at Eagles’ indoor facility, the safety Marlin Jackson ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg; his 2010 NFL season ending before it begins. “Jackson was injured when he tried to change direction while defending Jeremy Maclin on a routine non-contact drill, a completion from Kevin Kolb.” “Although a couple players have suffered severe injuries during noncontact minicamps at the NovaCare - Ndukwe Kalu and Correll Buckhalter come to mind - Jackson is believed to be the first player seriously injured on the bubble's artificial turf field since the indoor facility opened in 2002.” Source: Reuben Franck, “Jackson suffers another setback,” in Burlington County Times, June 2, 2010, available at http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/117/2010/june/02/jackson-suffers-another-setback.html .
[No. 48] The curse of artificial turf visits A Rod’s groin. According to a news report on MLB.com (June 6, 2010), “Alex Rodriguez left the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday [June 6, 2010] in the ninth inning with tightness in his right groin.” “It was more the turf than anything else -- probably the 14 innings yesterday and the early game today,” Rodriguez said after the game. “It's fine now. I'll be ready to go on Tuesday.” Rodriguez said he first felt the tightness before even taking the field and that it got "a little bit" worse as the game progressed. He added that his baserunning mistake in the second inning -- when he was thrown out trying to reach second base on a single that squirted off the hands of shortstop Alex Gonzalez into left field -- had “nothing to do with” the tightness. Source: Tim Britton, “A-Rod exits with groin tightness; Third baseman expects to play for Yanks on Tuesday [June 8, 2010], on MLB.com, June 6, 2010, available at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100606&content_id=10887484&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb .
Update: According to a news story on MLB.com (June 10, 2010), “Alex Rodriguez was removed from [June 10, 2010] Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Orioles after the first inning with tightness in his right groin, and he will see a team physician on Friday [June 11, 2010] in New York.” “Rodriguez has been battling tightness in his right groin since last weekend in Toronto, a situation he attributed to the artificial turf at Rogers Centre.” Source: Bryan Hoch, “A-Rod has tight groin, will visit doctor Friday,” on MLB.com, June 10, 2010, available at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100610&content_id=11041982&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb .
[No. 47] Toronto, Canada: Turf field at RogersCenter claims Italian soccer star. In European soccer, the rivalry between Juventus (Turin, Italy) and Fiorentina (Florence) is legendary. On May 25, 2010, they met in a friendly at the RogersCenter in Toronto. Fiorentina won 1 to nil. The greater casualty however was the Juventus’ defender Goncalo Brandao. Accroding to news report in The Toronto Sun (May 26, 2010), he “looked to get a cleat caught as he tried to chase down Fiorentina striker Babacar Khouma. He fell awkwardly, and slammed his fists into the turf in pain. He was taken off the field on a cart.” Also playing in the match was Alessandro Del Piero, arguably one of Italy’s best-ever forwards. He said the conditions were far from ideal. “It’s not the best,” he said of the turf. “We prefer to play on a more natural terrain. Natural turf is better than synthetic surfaces.” “The stadium is beautiful, I felt very good,” said Fiorentina’s player Stevan Jovetic. “We made adjustments, We aren’t used to playing on artificial surfaces.” Source: Steven Sandor, “Artificial in many ways: Players take no chances on Rogers Centre turf in uninspiring soccer friendly,” in The Toronto Sun, May 26, 2010, available at http://www.torontosun.com/sports/soccer/2010/05/26/14090391-torsun.html
[No. 46] Earthquake’s midfielder bothered by back-to-back play on turf, gets rest time. According to an item in the Mercury News 9May 29, 2010), the “Rookie Brad Ring will start tonight [May 29] in place of central midfielder Andre Luiz, whose knee is bothering him after two games on artificial grass, in New England (May 15) and Seattle (May 22).” Source: Elliott Almond, “San Jose Earthquakes goalie Joe Cannon is having fun again,” in Mercury News, May 29, 2010, available at http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_15186591
[No. 45] Per-team injury rates in the National Football League are 27% higher for games played on artificial turf surface. According to a news story on ORTHO Super Site (April 30, 2010), available at http://www.orthosupersite.com/view.aspx?rid=63790 , a recent study “associates NFL players’ lower extremity injury rates with playing surface. Per-team injury rates in the National Football League were 27% higher for games played on a specific artificial turf surface vs. games played on natural grass during the 2002 to 2008 seasons, according to a recent study, which also found 88% higher ACL injury rates and 32% higher ankle eversion sprain rates for games played on the artificial turf.” This is according to the conclusions reached by the National Football League (NFL) Injury and Safety Panel published at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeon (AAOS). The surface evaluated in the study was from FieldTurf. The study “analyzed data from the NFL Injury Surveillance System for 1,961 games played over seven seasons for a total exposure of 3,222 team games. During that time, there were 1,105 knee sprains and 1,115 ankle sprains. Investigators then calculated the experimental injury rate for the artificial turf exposure and compared it to the control injury rate, those seen on natural grass, to determine the differences in injury rates by surface. They then used various means to validate their statistical findings.” “The differences in all injury rates that [the study] identified …. were statistically significantly different for the FieldTurf surface turf vs. grass.” The lead-investigator of the study “stated in a AAOS press release that, ‘Many NFL players prefer FieldTurf because it is softer and more comfortable to land on than other playing surfaces such as natural grass, but the more that NFL players play on this surface, the more they are prone to injury.” The study isHershman EB, Powell J, Bergfeld JA, et al., American professional football games played on FieldTurf have higher lower extremity injury rates. Paper #692 (presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. March 9-13, 2010, New Orleans). Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 41).
[No. 44] UCLA cornerback Sermons breaks leg; turf may have been the culprit. According to a news report in The Orange County Register (April 3, 2010), “What started as an upbeat day of practice for the UCLA football team – its first of the spring with pads – ended with bad news. Cornerback Brandon Sermons broke his left leg midway through the practice session.” “Sermons’ injury occurred on the artificial turf side of the practice field. Several players have been recently injured on that side of the field as opposed to the side with the grass.” “The injury occurred when Sermons tried to make a quick cut on a pass-coverage drill. His left foot got caught either on the turf or entangled with the receiver.” “Offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani missed most of last season after suffering a knee injury on the artificial surface. Micah Kia missed the entire season after injuring his knee on the same practice surface. Defensive end Reggie Stokes tore cartilage in his right knee and missed a big part of last season.” But UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel “doesn’t think the turf is an issue.” “Teammate Aaron Hester, who broke his leg in the first game of 2009, thought Sermons’ foot got caught on the turf but figures all of that will be sorted out later. His main concern was for Sermons’ well-being.” Source: Al Balderas, “UCLA football: Sermons breaks left leg,” in The Orange County Register (April 3, 2010), available at http://ucla.freedomblogging.com/2010/04/03/ucla-football-sermons-breaks-left-leg/13439/ .
[No. 43] AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL.” An article on MedPage Today (March 15, 2010) reported on Hershman E, et al “American professional football games played on FieldTurf have higher lower extremity injury rates” (AAOS 2010; Abstract 692), a paper that was submittedat the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans in March 2010 (see Item No. 41 below). According to Todd Neale, “AAOS: Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL,” on MedPage Today, March 15, 2010, reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner – available at http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAOS/19020 -- The Hershman Study found that “Players were 27% more likely to sustain a lower extremity injury when the game was played on artificial FieldTurf instead of the real thing (P<0.01), according to Elliott Hershman, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. More specifically, there was an 88% increased risk of an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament and a 32% increased risk of an eversion ankle sprain when playing on FieldTurf (P<0.01 for both). Hershman is chair of the NFL's Injury and Safety Panel. Hershman and his colleagues analyzed data from the NFL Injury Surveillance System for the 2002 to 2008 seasons. An injury had to involve removal of the player from the game or loss of at least one participation day to be included in the study. The rate of lower extremity injuries was significantly higher for games played on FieldTurf -- 1.79 versus 1.40 injuries per team-game. Hershman acknowledged that the analysis was unable to control for other possibly contributing factors, such as the players' footwear.”
[No. 42] Wayland, Mass.: More injuries on artificial turf. The following item is from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandvotersnetwork/message/415 . It was posted on the site by Tom Sciacca on March 21, 2010. Mr. Tom Sciacca is the author of “The Thermal Physics of Artificial Turf,” http://www.synturf.org/sciaccaheatstudy.html (January 1, 2008). He is a retired electrical engineer, whose professional work included design of computerized data acquisition systems used for precision temperature measurements, using thermal physics extensively in his circuit and systems design work. He holds a patent for a novel home heating system. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a former conservation commissioner for the Town of Wayland, Mass.
Subject: WVN # 342: Wayland turf type linked to pro football injuries
Dear Wayland Voter,
The kind of artificial surface used on Wayland's high school playing field has been implicated in excess National Football League injuries.
Also in this newsletter: The town's website has won an award for making government information available to the public.
On March 12 the Associated Press reported an NFL study showing higher rates of leg injuries on FieldTurf, the brand used on Wayland's field, than on grass fields. The rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries was 88 percent higher , the study said. Ankle sprains were 32 percent higher.
Dr. Elliot Hershman, a Jets team orthopedist, noted that the NFL research may not apply to lower levels of football or to other sports.
But data from the WaylandHigh School athletic department shows a large number of knee, leg, and ankle injuries after the turf field was installed. In fact, an ACL injury occurred on Sept.19, 2007, only four days after the field was first opened. The injured student took more than a year and surgery to recover. Another student received an ACL injury later in that same short season. Both occurred while playing football.
The following spring, lower limb injuries included two ankle sprains and two quadriceps strains. These all occurred while playing lacrosse. Both boys and girls were injured.
In the fall of 2008 there were two ACL injuries. One was during football practice and the other from girls' soccer. In addition, a field hockey goalie suffered a medial collateral ligament strain. There were three ankle injuries, one a fracture. Also, a soccer player suffered a hip strain and another child suffered a back injury.
The spring of 2009 saw many fewer injuries, including only one ankle sprain. And the fall brought only one ankle sprain and one knee contusion.
But 2009 also brought seven concussions. This is a type of injury that turf field manufacturers and proponents often claim is less common on turf fields, compensating, they say, for any increase in leg injuries. In all, there were 13 concussions on the turf field in the 2-1/2 year period from fall of 2007 through fall of 2009. Concussions have been in the news lately as causing lifelong damage, including possible early onset dementia.
ACL injuries have also made the news recently, as possibly causing early onset of arthritis. "People who tear their ACL have a 50 to 75 percent chance of developing severe osteoarthritis in 10 to 20 years", says Dr. John Hardin, the chief science officer of the Arthritis Foundation, quoted in the Boston Globe. "Even though the orthopedic surgery is very effective in getting you back to playing your sport, it doesn't change your odds of developing severe osteoarthritis and we really don't know why."
Researchers have measured much higher stresses on a player's legs on artificial turf than on natural grass. As a player pivots, the plastic strands simulating grass "grab" his foot. Natural grass, on the other hand, tears and allows scraping of the underlying soil, absorbing energy in the process. The same tearing and scraping that protects players also leads to higher maintenance costs for natural grass; such costs are part of the rationale for conversion to artificial turf.
A number of other injuries were documented on the Wayland field during the period, including thumb fractures, neck strain, wrist fracture, an apparent episode of fainting, and a stroke. Very high temperatures, over 160 degrees Fahrenheit, have been measured on the field. Such temperatures could have led directly or indirectly to some of these injuries by affecting coordination or consciousness.
A request for comparable data from the period before the installation of the turf field resulted in only three seasons worth of information. In those three seasons only one ACL injury occurred. Seven lower body injuries were recorded. That compares to 18 lower body injuries on the turf field over five seasons. It is unclear if the number and types of games played per season pre- and post-turf were comparable.
There were six concussions in the three pre-turf seasons.
Outgoing Selectman Michael Tichnor cited Wayland's "first turf field" as one of the accomplishments of his six years as a selectman. Tichnor was the most prominent proponent of the field, pushing the Board of Selectmen to support the construction and fund part of the nearly $1 million cost with Community Preservation funds, which was later judged illegal in a court case involving a similar project in Newton. Department of Environmental Protection orders resulting from appeals to the turf field proposal resulted in over $100,000 of required drainage work charged to the water department, never reported to taxpayers but included in water fees.
When the plans to build the field were being debated in front of the DEP, Town Administrator Fred Turkington argued that completing the turf field was necessary to protect children's safety.
SynTurf.org Note: It is reasonable to conclude that turf fields are injuring players, tots and titans alike. Lawsuits over injuries are already a part of the picture. They may well increase, on individual basis. But the road to greater product safety will probably be the same as battle over tobacco products, asbestos and automobiles – class action suits. Some of the people hurt on turf will suffer much of their lives as a result of these injuries. Often a simple public records request is all that a person needs to obtain the injury records for the school fields. On lawsuits visit this sites page http://www.synturf.org/lawsuits.html and also check out Brian J. Duff, “Game Plan for a Successful Product Liability Action against Manufacturers of Artificial Turf,” in 5 Seton Hall Journal ofSports Law, vol. 5, 223-251 (1995), discussed in http://www.synturf.org/beckhamslament.html .
[No. 41]NFL Injury and Safety Panel: “Injuries are more common on artificial turf.” According to anews story by the Associate Press (March 11, 2010), “An NFL panel found that certain serious knee and ankle injuries happen more often in games played on the most popular brand of artificial turf than on grass. The league’s Injury and Safety Panel is presenting its study Friday [March 12, 2010] at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans.” “The report examined the 2002-08 NFL seasons, comparing games played on grass to those on FieldTurf. It found that the rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries was 88 percent higher in FieldTurf games — a conclusion the manufacturer of the synthetic field hotly disputes.” “The panel has presented its findings to league owners, the NFL Players Association and companies that make artificial turf. The study has been submitted for publication.” “The panel started to notice a higher rate of injuries on the new turf in evaluating the data the NFL compiles each season, Once enough games had been played on the newer surfaces to do a scientific analysis, the panel found that ACL injuries and a more serious type of ankle sprain occurred at a higher rate that is statistically significant.” “The rate for the ankle sprains was 32 percent higher on FieldTurf than on grass. MCL injuries and a less serious type of ankle sprain also happened more frequently, but the difference was not statistically significant.” “FieldTurf president Eric Daliere argues that the panel's methods are faulty and cites research by Montana State professor Michael Meyers that has been published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Meyers' work, though, has only looked at high school and college football, and not the NFL. FieldTurf paid for Meyers’ recent study that found lower overall injury rates for college games played on the surface.” Source: Rachel Cohen and Barry Wilner, “NFL panel finds some injuries more common on turf,” Associated Press, March 11, 2010, available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hDn9hI92kotimLtxmGJrb2lcSCzgD9ECT5HG0 . Click here for pdf version.
For the NFL Player Association surveys of playing surfaces, see
SynTurf.org Note: Playing surface are no different than floors of factories – they are the environment where the workers (players) toil, labor. The obsession with installing these plastic and crumb-rubber/sand infill playing surfaces lies entirely with management (owners) who ultimately reap the pecuniary gain from engendering the health and careers of the players. The same can be said of the municipalities and schools that promote play on these surfaces. The question then is whether players of all ages are worth real grass.
[No. 40] More on concussions: The turf factor. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. February 21, 2010. The Februaury 14, 2010, edition of CBSSports.com carried an article by Matt Rybaltowski, entitled “Young player helps turn trauma into action on concussions.” It is available http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/12928497/young-player-helps-turn-trauma-into-action-on-concussions . It is a long and well research piece on concussion among football players of all ages – and what is being done at all levels – government to research – to understand the phenomenon and prevent it from getting worse, hoping to reduce the risk of an injury that can leave athletes cognitively challenged and physically debilitated. Here are a few excerpts from the article:
Although the frequency of catastrophic football-related injuries resulting in major cognitive impairment, paralysis or even death has declined drastically over the past several decades, concussions in youth football still remain a serious concern. As players become bigger and the game has become faster, coaches on the whole still lack the requisite education to properly deal with a concussed athlete. At the same time, a dearth of on-site certified athletic trainers and poor funding in youth football has helped create an environment so violent that Houston Texans tackle Chester Pitts promises to find a less harmful sport for his three-year-old son Champ.
[Dr. Dawn Comstock, an associate professor at The Center For Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University's Nationwide Children's Hospital] said the misreporting of concussions is a two-pronged issue that she attributes to the lack of awareness among some parents, coaches and athletes in combination with the culture of machismo prevalent among teenagers in the sport for decades. With potential college scholarships on the line and pride at stake, often the last thing a youth football player wants to do is leave a game. It might explain why Comstock's research found that 15.8 percent of high school players returned to a game last season after experiencing a concussion that resulted in a loss of consciousness.
One factor commonly ignored when evaluating concussion rates in football is the surface of play. Tom Bainter, the coach of BothellHigh School just outside Seattle, said there were six concussions in his program in 2005, the last season before the school tore up a worn artificial turf field. The worst occurred when a freshman linebacker lowered his shoulder during a hit and slammed his head against the turf, experiencing a “double hit,” as his helmet bounced back up. The linebacker missed several weeks of school and needed to be escorted through the hallways to locate his classes when he first returned. Bothell has not had a player experience a concussion since.
Don Bollinger, president of Construction Services at ATG Sports, an athletic surfacing manufacturer that has installed turf fields on the high school and collegiate level since 1980, said there is a direct relationship between concussions and the amount of sand underneath a turf field. He said most of the surfaces constructed by his company contain an all-rubber infill that unlike sand does not compact and provides a softer surface.
The company, he said, strives to create a surface safer than natural grass. Playing surfaces, he added, are given a G-Max rating that tests its softness, or the amount of shock your brain receives when it hits the ground. Artificial turf fields with high contents of sand will produce G-Max ratings in excess of 200, comparable to the amount of force your head experiences when hitting a dashboard during a car accident. While there are still hundreds of artificial fields on the high school level that contain sand underneath, surfaces with all-rubber infill are considered much safer, Bollinger said.
[No. 39] Rugby coach: “artificial turf beats the hell out of you.” The Witter Rugby Field is located at the Memorial Stadium, on the campus of the University of California in Berkley. The coach of the Cal Rugby team (the Bears) is one Jack Clark. Following this March (2010), the field will be shut down for renovation until 2013 or 2014. According to a news story in The Daily Californian (February 9, 2010), “What many call the ‘best grass in Berkeley’ will be torn out and replaced with artificial turf to accommodate practices for football and lacrosse. ‘Playing on artificial turf beats the hell out of you,’ said Clark. ‘Even the newest generations of turf are not appropriate for rugby.’ Watching the field that you built being paved over is tough. Not being able to play at home is worse.” For more on this story, go to Gabriel Baumgaertner, “At Wit's End,” in The Daily Californian, February 9, 2010, available at http://www.dailycal.org/article/108154/at_wit_s_end .
[No. 38] Hospital for Special Surgery: Cleat/artificial turf combination most likely to result in ACL injury. Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City (www.hss.edu) is a world leader in orthopedics, ranking 2nd in the United States. In a recent published study (January 2010), the investigators at HSSfound that “Athletes put less strain on their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while making a cut on a natural grass surface while wearing a cleat.” The investigators “tested the strain placed on the ACL of four different shoe-surface interactions: Astroturf/turf shoe, modern playing turf/turf shoe, modern turf/cleat, and natural grass/cleat.” Available at http://www.hss.edu/newsroom_cleat-grass-acl.asp (and here), here are an excerpt from HSS Press release (dated January 20, 2010 – Contact person: Phyllis Fisher, fisherp@)hss.edu – 2121-606-1197):
"It appears that a similar cut made on four different surfaces, the best strain profile is in grass/cleat combinations," said Mark Drakos, M.D., formerly an orthopedic fellow in the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at HSS. "So, there is less force occurring at your ligament for the same cut on that particular surface using this model."
He added that the study investigated noncontact injuries. "These are injuries where an athlete plants his or her foot while making a cut and blows out his or her knee," Dr. Drakos said. "The reason that I think this is so interesting is because there are still environmental factors, which have yet to be optimized. We don't know all the science behind why ACL injuries may be more common on turf than on grass. This study starts developing some of the science behind that, so that it can be looked at more closely because, at the end of the day, I think we need to optimize some of those environmental factors."
Previous studies have suggested that increased traction at the shoe-surface interface may increase the risk of sustaining an ACL injury. While the majority of studies reveal that ACL injuries are more likely to occur on artificial turf, there are some studies that have shown that injuries occur more frequently on grass fields. So, investigators have concluded that confounding factors, such as weather and footwear, must play a role in injuries. Some investigators have constructed models to test how the shoe-surface interface impacts loading conditions at the level of the foot, but no studies have investigated how the interface directly impacts the knee.
To fill this knowledge gap, investigators at HSS used a cadaveric model to test various shoe-surface interactions; they used the lower extremities (knee, foot, and ankle) from eight cadavers. One at a time, each specimen was positioned in a box-like structure, rigged to be in a standing position. The knee was positioned at a 30 degree angle, the flexion angle where the anterior cruciate ligament is most sensitive to strain. Investigators constructed an apparatus that placed weight on the leg, to simulate the weight of a body. Underneath the foot was a turf box that housed whatever turf they wanted to test and underneath the turf box, they placed a force plate that registered how much load was being placed on the shoe-surface interface. A lazy Susan was placed underneath the force plate that allowed the force plate and turf box to rotate. In this way, researchers could simulate a cut or a person pivoting in, for example, a soccer game.
"Our model looks at how forces travel up the kinetic chain, and that is something that should be looked at more closely, meaning you can't just look at the knee injuries by looking at the knee in isolation," Dr. Drakos said.
The investigators found that the natural grass/cleat combination placed a statistically lower maximum strain on the leg than any of the remaining three groups. All other combinations placed a greater amount of strain compared to the natural/grass cleat combination. The Astroturf shoe was 80.2 percent greater, modern playing turf/turf shoe was 47.5 percent greater, and the modern playing turf/cleat was 45.1 percent greater.
"As a former football player. I was always curious about why I was more sore after playing on artificial surfaces than playing on grass, and I wanted to find out the reasons behind that using a biomechanical model," Dr. Drakos said. "There are basically 200,000 ACL injuries every year in the United States alone and this [type of playing field and type of shoe] is an environmental factor which has been shown to play a role in injury, but has yet to be optimized. I think it is a scenario that deserves attention and further research."
Astroturf can be thought of as a carpet with ½ inch fibers on a 5 millimeter foam pad. The newer, modern playing turf consists of two inched fibers with a crumb rubber infill, three pounds of infill per square foot of turf. Investigators used fresh Kentucky bluegrass sod for the natural grass samples.
[No. 37] Another NFL career in limbo, turf takes another toll. O’Brien Schofield is a senior at the University of Wisconsin. He is a defensive tackle. On January 25, 2010, his NFL prospects dimmed when reportedly he managed to tear his anterior cruciate ligament during practice for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama (January 30, 2010). According to e news report on Madison.com (January 25, 2010), “Schofield got his cleat caught in the artificial turf when locked in 1-on-1 drills with mammoth Massachusetts offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse, whose leg then hit Schofield's while it was planted.” Source: “Schofield tears ACL in Senior Bowl practice,” on Madison.com, January 25, 2010, available at http://host.madison.com/sports/college/football/article_6d752568-0a2c-11df-85ee-001cc4c002e0.html .
[No. 36] Yes, turf can be an injury-causing hard surface, leading to head injury.Last November (2009) we reported on Matt Blea’s ordeal (http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 32). As the discussion about concussions among NFL players goes on unabated, Matt Blea’s predicament serves as a constant reminder that concussion and head injuries among athletes knows no age group. Our high school athletes are equally imperiled, especially in an age where greater traction of footwear and greater mass of players combine to produce greater speeds and less forgiving collisions – player on player or player onto the playing surface. One of the selling points of artificial turf fields is that the surface is soft – perhaps so, but how long does that softness last as the crumb rubber compacts or altogether migrates off the field leaving behind a hardened surface? In a recent news item about Matt Blea, we came across this in the description of the play that sent him to the hospital with a career-ending head injury: “He doesn't remember banging his helmet on the artificial turf, or getting up and wobbling toward the sideline before collapsing. Or his father, an assistant coach, pleading with him, ‘Don't give up! Stay with us!’ Or the 2½-hour surgery at ValleyMedicalCenter that saved his life.” For more of this news item, pleas see Tom Fitzgerald, “Teen football player upbeat after near-fatal head injury: Player suffers concussion after hitting ground,” in San Francisco Chronicle (The Herald - MontereyCounty,January 28, 2010, available at http://www.montereyherald.com/health/ci_14285120 .
[No. 35] Want to save your sports career? Get off the artificial turf. According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, January 7, 2010, playing on grass saved the career of the outfielder Andre Dawson, former Chicago Cub, one-time Montreal Expo, one-time Boston red Sox and one-time Florida Marlin. Dawson will be enshrined July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Here are experts from the article:
Dawson endured knee pain after playing 10 years on the artificial turf in Montreal. He had to deal with long hours of treatment before and after games. And he had to deal with the belittling era of collusion by baseball owners that drove him from the Expos as a free agent and into a blank contract offer handed to Cubs general manager Dallas Green in 1987. He signed for the paltry sum of $500,000.
''I was sticking my neck out,'' Dawson said Wednesday. ''They made me [a low offer] to get me to turn it down. But money wasn't the issue.''
Continuing to play was his issue. Dawson said playing on natural grass saved his career.
''Chicago, for me, gave me new life, playing on the natural surface after Montreal and being in a major market with a huge fan base that really understood the game. It allowed me to relax and enjoy the game. The game was fun again.''
[No. 34] KPHO (CBS): Athletes & Experts say turf can lead to real pain. According to a news report on KHPO.com (CBS 5 News, Phoenix, Arizona), January 14, 2010,“Despite the growing popularity of artificial turf, athletes and physical therapists say the fake grass could lead to more injuries on the field.” Here is the rest of the article:
Michael Branson, a physical therapist and owner of Cor Clinic in Scottsdale, said although there are not conclusive statistics that show a distinct increase in injury rates on artificial turf, common sense says if a surface is harder it could lead to more serious injuries.
"I would think you would see more injuries" with artificial turf, said Branson, who works with injured athletes.
He frequently sees problems connected with synthetic turf, such as "turf toe," which is essentially a sprain to the toe. It can be as difficult or more to recover from than a sprained ankle.
Nevertheless, Branson also said more serious injuries, like the tearing of the ACL, could arise.
"New artificial turf fields … basically have a higher level of holding onto the foot," he said. "There is a potential for more rotation injuries on artificial turf fields versus grass."
Zoe Smith, a soccer player and sophomore student at ChaparralHigh School in Scottsdale, said she prefers playing on natural grass. The 16-year-old has fallen on synthetic turf many times, and she said it changes how she plays.
"In practices if I'm not wearing my sliders or something, I definitely … would hold back because … it kills to fall on turf if you fall the wrong way," Zoe said.
Branson said that, despite seeing injuries on both surfaces, he thinks that natural fields are "the way to go."
[No. 33] Turf-boarding, a new form of torture! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 12, 2009. So you think you have seen it all when it comes to the testosterone-driven sadistic behavior of a coach that masquerades as character-building tough-love? The coach is Mark Mangino of KansasUniversity, who is no longer. In November the athletic director at the university launched an investigation and by December 3, 2009, he agreed to resign.
According to a news story on KUSposrts.com (December 2, 2009), Cory Kipp played defensive lineman under Mangino in 2002 and ’03, when “he endured significant injuries to his hand as a result of a punishment carried out by the coach — a claim backed up by multiple former players, as well as photos taken shortly after the incident.” “It must have been the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Kipp said. Here is what went down – verbatim form
According to Kipp, who started all 13 games at nose tackle during the ’03 season, the incident transpired as follows:
At the beginning of an afternoon workout in August of ’03, Mangino told Kipp to see him after practice to undergo punishment for the player’s failure to weigh-in earlier that day.
Kipp figured the punishment would be running “cross-fields” — something he and another former player said was a typical penalty for such an infraction — but was instead told to “bear-crawl” across the AstroTurf field at Memorial Stadium on his hands and feet.
Kipp began the crawl and, after moving several yards, felt a burning sensation in his hands. On multiple occasions, Kipp said, he stopped to complain that the turf was burning his hands — according to a University of Arkansas report, artificial playing surfaces have been documented at up to 199 degrees in temperature — but was ordered by Mangino, who was walking alongside the crawling player, to keep going.
By the time Kipp had finished, the skin near the heel of his hand had been completely seared, and photos provided to the Journal-World depict blistering and a sizable area of missing skin.
As a result of the injury, Kipp said, he was forced to undergo extensive treatment on his hand by then-head football trainer Carol Jarosky throughout the next three weeks, and although he said at least two members of the coaching staff were aware of the injury, he was told to practice through it.
“It wasn’t like because my hand was burned, I took a couple days off,” Kipp said. “They made me practice.”
Each day for three weeks, he said, Jarosky — who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment — would treat and wrap the hand before workouts, using multiple layers of padding. But in the days immediately following the injury, Kipp said, he would return to the locker room after practice with the padding soaked through in blood.
Asked to examine the photos for his opinion on the severity of the damage, Birmingham, Ala.-based dermatologist Conway Huang confirmed the injury was either frictional or heat-related.
If heat-related, Huang wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-World, it was consistent with second-degree burns.
Since allegations arose two weeks ago that Mangino had regularly verbally and physically abused players, however, the coach has contended that he has done nothing inappropriate in his running of the program.
During his weekly radio show Nov. 19, for instance, he lashed out at former players and parents who had spoken out against him, insisting their allegations were an attempt at “15 minutes of fame.” Asked following Saturday’s 41-39 season-ending loss to Missouri whether he’d be willing to tone down his approach if implored to do so by university administrators, meanwhile, he responded, “You’re coming with the assumption that it needs toned down. How I coach is how I coach. Ninety-nine percent of the kids here appreciate it.”
Three other players contacted by the Journal-World confirmed the incident, including Sid Bachmann, a defensive tackle on the ’02 and ’03 Kansas teams, and former fullback Austine Nwabuisi.
“The thing was, that day, it was so hot on the field,” Bachmann said. “... We were running cross-fields, and it was so hot that the bottom of my feet were burning. I could feel the bottom of my feet — through my socks and my cleats, they were burning.”
Despite the severity of the incident, Kipp said an apology — or any sign of remorse on the part of Mangino — would have been enough to move on without any hard feelings.
“If he said that he was sorry, and he didn’t realize (the turf) was that hot, then I would have accepted his apology and that would have been that,” Kipp said. “But I never got that.”
What’s more, during a team meeting later that season, Kipp says Mangino brought the incident up in front of coaches and players — a story confirmed by Bachmann.
After pointing out a tackle that Kipp had missed during the previous week’s game, Mangino allegedly threatened to burn the player’s other hand if he ever missed a tackle again.
“I looked at some of the assistant coaches when (Mangino) said that, and they just had their heads down,” Bachmann said. “Our (defensive line) coach had his head down and he was just shaking his head.”
At the urging of his roommate, meanwhile, Kipp took photos of the damage following the incident and strongly considered approaching athletic director Lew Perkins before deciding against it due to fear of retribution — namely, worries over a potential decrease in playing time or the revocation of his scholarship.
Kipp, who now lives in California, said he was prompted to come forward after hearing Mangino’s denials of earlier allegations involving his mistreatment of players.
“I’m doing this,” Kipp said, “because I’ve got proof how horrible a coach he is.”
SynTurf.org Note: Surely, the coach was wrong to do what he did to Kipp and others. What is more appalling and hardly ever addressed in our sports culture is the players’ reluctance to complain in a timely fashion. This needs to stop – we should be educating our athletes in differences between discipline and abuse, and how tolerating abuse a hero does not make – it is the coward who dares not speak truth to power wherever and whenever. As parents we have the burden of raising children who expect respect and will not stand for mistreatment.
[No. 32] Fractured skull, concussion, turf toe and broken foot – on artificial turf. The world of professional football is presently focused on the effect of concussions on the long term health and quality of players’ life. One often hears about the weight of the athletes, strength, speed and other factors that contribute to the ferocity of the hits and spills and collisions. Nobody is focusing, as yet, on the contribution that the artificial turf fields may be making to the collisions that produce injury, concussions or otherwise. Traction, which allows players to cut and reverse course, also helps with acceleration, greater speed. You need not be a rocket scientist just yet to figure that given the same mass and greater acceleration always produces greater force.
According to a news item in San Jose Mercury News (November 11, 2009), “Matt [Blea], 16, a football player for San Jose High Academy, remained in critical condition Friday night [Nov. 11, 2009] at Valley Medical Center. His skull was fractured Thanksgiving Day while he competed in the annual ‘Big Bone’ Game against LincolnHigh School.” Here are a few excerpts from the report by Mark Purdy, “Fear of injury nags all parents of prep athletes,” in San Jose Mercury News (November 11, 2009), available at http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_13883441 (the url has a link to the video of the injury-producing hit):
“A new study, done by the University of Michigan, has reignited the head trauma issue. The study found that former NFL players are far more prone to brain diseases and damage than the general population. That's understandable. At the NFL level, the players are so huge, so fast. The physics of their collisions are frightening. But can it be just as bad for teenagers with smaller bodies and slower feet?
Matt Blea’s parents must have felt the same way Thursday. On video, the hit against him shows up as a hard blow, but not devastating. It happens on a pass play. Matt is running downfield as a receiver. He turns and looks back for the ball. A player from Lincoln steps in front of Matt and makes an interception.” “Then, less than a second later, another player from Lincoln smacks Matt solidly in the left shoulder as he is still looking upfield. The blindside hit knocks Matt off his feet. He falls backward. His shoulders hit the turf along with the back of his helmet, which bounces with a snap off the artificial grass. Matt rises to one knee, stands, wobbles a few steps to the sideline and then collapses. Then the awfulness begins. Ending with an ambulance ride.”
Ryan Wolfe plays football for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. According to a news report in Las Vegas Review Journal (November 21, 2009), “Wolfe’s final season came to a close Friday [Nov. 18, 2009] after it was determined he broke a bone in his left foot during Wednesday’s practice at Rebel Park. He is expected to have surgery sometime next week and begin a rehabilitation program that will last eight to 12 weeks, after which he will be on crutches for up to six weeks, according to UNLV.” According to Rebels coach Mike Sanford, while working on his punt returns, “Wolfe fielded a punt and caught his foot in a seam in the artificial turf at the team's on-campus practice facility.” Source: Jeff Wolf, “Wolfe’s UNLV career ended by broken foot,” in Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 21, 2009, available at http://www.lvrj.com/sports/wolfes-unlv-career-ended-by-broken-foot-70690597.html .
According to a news report by 11 Alive News (November 30, 2009), an NBC affiliate in the Atlanta area, the Falcons’ Quarterback Matt Ryan would be sidelined for Sunday’s game [Dec. 6, 2009] against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan is reportedly suffering from an injury that is not uncommon among professional and college athletes: turf toe.” “It is usually caused by jamming the toe (this is because shoes often stick in artificial turf and cause a painful stubbing).” “[I]t hurts! The injured can have stiffness swelling and pain at the bottom of the big toe or the base.” For more of this story, go to Chris Sweigart and Fred Kalil, “Matt Ryan’s ‘Turf Toe’ Explained,” on 11 Alive, November 30, 2009, available at http://www.11alive.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=138221&catid=5 .
A: Turf toe is a painful condition at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot. It involves a sprain of the big toe metatarsophalangeal joint.
Q: What causes the condition?
A: The condition is caused by forced hyperextension (or bending back) of the big toe. This forced hyperextension leads to varying degrees of disruption of the soft tissues on the undersurface of the joint.
Q: Who gets turf toe?
A: Turf toe typically occurs in sports that require planting of the foot, such as football or soccer. It commonly occurs in the running back who has another player land on the planted foot, causing the big toe to bend back excessively. The name "turf toe" comes from the fact that the injury is especially common among athletes who play on hard, artificial turf.
Q: What symptoms might patients experience?
A: The athlete may experience pain, swelling, discomfort and painful movement at the base of the big toe. In addition, the athlete may report increased pain with any attempt to push off with the involved foot.
Q: When should a doctor be seen?
A: Any athlete with suspected turf toe should be evaluated by a physician. X-rays of the big toe should be obtained to rule out a fracture or joint dislocation.
Q: How is turf toe treated?
A: Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. All injuries are initially treated with ice, compression, elevation and anti-inflammatory medications. Mild injuries may be treated by taping the big toe and/or placing a rigid orthotic into the insole of the shoe. Moderate to severe injuries may also require a period of activity restriction, use of crutches and not bearing weight on the affected foot. Surgery is rarely necessary for the acute turf toe injury.
Q: How long does recovery take?
A: With a mild injury, the athlete may be able to return to play after a brief period of rest and taping of the big toe. For a moderate injury, it is usually necessary to refrain from athletic participation for two to three weeks. With severe injuries, the athlete may be unable to return to sports for the remainder of the season. A severe injury may take up to six weeks to recover and return to play.
Q: Can anything be done to prevent turf toe?
A: Athletes who wear lightweight, flexible shoes and play on hard playing surfaces are at risk of developing turf toe. In addition, athletes who have stiffness in the big toe joint may be predisposed to injury. Wearing shoes with a stiff sole or insert, playing sports on natural grass, and increasing the flexibility of the big toe joint may reduce the frequency and magnitude of this potentially career-ending injury.
[No. 31]Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City) Study: Artificial turf surface produces most strain in ACL. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 11, 2009. This past August we reported ona study entitled The effects of various infills, fibre structures, and shoe designs on generating rotational traction on an artificial surface, which found that the highest torques were associated with the cryogenic SBR infill. This infill consists of fine crumb rubber particles capable of packing into a dense structure thought to increase a cleated shoe’s resistance to rotation. The lowest torques were associated with the extruded infill, a larger rounded cylindrical particle made of TPE, incapable of packing as tight as the cryogenically processed infill. it is generally accepted that excessive rotational friction results in high forces being transmitted to vulnerable anatomic structures which may then precipitate ankle and knee injuries. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.htm (Item No. 28).
Now comes study that highlights with greater precision the relationship between shoe-surface interface and ACL strains. Entitled The Effect of the Shoe–Surface Interface in the Development of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Strain, the study is the work of medical practitioners at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery: Mark C. Drakos (MD),Howard Hillstrom (PhD), James E. Voos (MD), Anna N. Miller(MD), Andrew P. Kraszewski(BS), Thomas L. Wickiewicz (MD), Russell F. Warren (MD), Answorth A. Allen (MD), and Stephen J. O’Brien(MD, MBA). The study is published in the Hospital for Special Surgery Journal, 2008 September; 4(2): 188–190, and is available at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2553173&tool=pmcentrez or
Introduction: The shoe–surface interface has been implicated as a possible risk factor for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries; however, the relationship between ACL strain and the shoe–surface interface has yet to be quantified. The purpose of this study is to develop a biomechanical cadaveric model to evaluate the effect of various shoe–surface interfaces on ACL strain. We hypothesize that there will be a significant difference in ACL strain between different shoe–surface combinations when a standardized rotational moment (a simulated cutting movement) is applied to an axially loaded lower extremity.
Results: The preliminary trials confirmed a linear relationship between strain and both the moment and the axial force for our testing configuration. The average Lachman examination produced a strain of 4.33 (SD±1.72). In the experimental trials, the average maximum strain was 3.90, 3.19, 3.14, and 2.16 for groups I–IV, respectively. Group IV had significantly less maximum strain (p<0.05) than each of the other groups.
Conclusion: This model can reproducibly create a detectable strain in the anteromedial bundle of the ACL in response to a given axial load and internal rotation moment. Within the elastic range of the stress–strain curve, the amount of strain in the ACL appears to be affected by the shoe–surface interface. Specifically, the natural grass and cleat combination produced less strain in the ACL than the Field Turf–cleat, FieldTurf–turf shoe, and Astroturf–turf shoe combinations for a given axial load and moment.
[No. 30] Seahawks WR back after ACL injury on artificial turf. According to a news report in Seattle Times (Septemebr 13, 2009), the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson “suffered a season-ending injury when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a rain-slicked, synthetic field in Buffalo during a 34-10 loss [last season].” Source: Percy Allen, “Nate Burleson shows he's back after knee injury,” in Seattle Times, September 13, 2009, available at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/seahawks/2009860310_hawkside14.html
[No. 29] Honolulu, Hawaii: An epidemic of cuts and scrapes from the artificial turf field at UH. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 13, 2009. The following story would typically get filed under “Maintenance/Replacement” because of the physical condition of the artificial turf field. It is the effect of the worn out artificial turf field at University of Hawaii on the athletes that has landed this story on the “Health” page. The story is Stephen Tsai, “Warriors stinging from stadium FieldTurf cuts,” in The Honolulu Advertiser, September 8, 2009, available at http://sports.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090908/SPORTS0201/909080338&template=UHSports/Warriors+stinging+from+stadium+FieldTurf+cuts or click here.The following is a reprint of the story:
There is a 36-day break between last Friday's season opener and the Hawai'i football team's next home game.
That might be enough time for the FieldTurf-induced scrapes to heal.
Several Warriors noticed that the 6-year-old FieldTurf, installed in 2003 as part of the requirements for keeping the Pro Bowl in Hawai'i, no longer offers a soft cushion. The "blades" are worn down, and the paint coating, several Warriors noticed, provides a rough surface.
"It's not very forgiving," said UH quarterback Greg Alexander, his left shin covered with salami-colored abrasions. "It feels like you're playing on concrete sometimes."
Cornerback Jeramy Bryant did not work out Sunday because of a "deep incision" on his right leg caused after he slid on the FieldTurf. He said the cut might require a couple of stitches.
Left slotback Greg Salas' right forearms also were marked with cuts.
"The turf is hard," Salas said. "It hurts when you get tackled on it. ... It was that way last year. I've always had scabs (from turf burns). They never go away because I always rip them off in games when I get tackled."
On the plus side, the turf offers good traction, helping increase a player's speed. The downside, defensive end Paipai Falemalu said, is the FieldTurf feels like "carpet. It doesn't give too much."
Falemalu's knees were covered with abrasions.
UH head coach Greg McMackin said he noticed there were more reports of turf-related cuts.
"I don't know if it's just worn down," McMackin said. "It does seem a little thinner than last year. I have no answers."
Regardless of the condition, Alexander said: "You can't do anything about it now. It's football. You can't complain. If you fall down, you're going to get scraped. Whatever. You have to keep playing and not worry about it."
McMackin said he was told a new artificial turf will be installed next year.
"I know (stadium manager) Scott Chan and his staff do a great job, and they've got plans in the future," McMackin said. "Both teams have to play on it. Nobody has an advantage."
[No. 28] MSU Study: Infill and fiber spacing in artificial turf fields are factors in lower extremity injuries. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. August 9, 2009. A little known research paper by a group of biomechanical researchers at Michigan State University may have found the answer to why professional athletes disdain playing on artificial turf fields, with so many of them in NFL annual surveys believing that artificial turf fields injures them more than natural grass.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of infill material and fibre structure on the rotational traction associated with American football shoes on infill-based artificial surfaces. A mobile testing apparatus with a compliant ankle was used to apply rotations and measure the torque produced at the football shoe–surface interface.
The research study is by Mark R.Villwock, Eric G. Meyer, John W. Powell, Amy J. Fouty, and Roger C. Haut and it is entitled “Football playing Surface components may affect lower extremity injury risk.” The study was presented at the 2008 North American Conference on Biomechanics, August 5-9, Ann Arbor, MI (http://www.x-cdtech.com/nacob/Session5.html). Funded by a grant from the NFL Charities Foundation, the study was published as The effects of various infills, fibre structures, and shoe designs on generating rotational traction on an artificial surface, Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, Vol. 223, No. 1 (2009), pp. 11-19.
Injuries to the lower extremity are among the most frequent injuries in all levels of sports and often account for more than 50% of reported injuries (Fernandez et al., 2007). While translational friction is necessary for high-level performance during any athletic contest, it is generally accepted that excessive rotational friction results in high forces being transmitted to vulnerable anatomic structures which may then precipitate ankle and knee injuries.
In the current study a mobile testing apparatus was developed to measure the torque produced at the shoe/surface interface on sixteen surface systems. It was hypothesized that the size and structure of the infill would affect the rotational resistance of cleated shoes.
Infill material, fibre structure, and shoe design were all found to significantly affect rotational traction. The cryogenically processed styrene–butadiene rubber (SBR) infill yielded significantly higher peak torques than the ambient ground SBR and extruded thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) infills. An artificial surface with a nylon root zone yielded significantly lower peak torques than similar fibre surfaces without a nylon root zone. The size of infill particles and the presence of a nylon root zone may influence the compactness of the infill layer. These features may act to alter the amount of cleat contact with the infill, thereby influencing rotational traction. The amount of cleat contact with the surface may also be determined by the shoe design.
Peak torques were significantly affected by playing surface…. FieldTurf and the native soil natural grass system produced significantly different torques than all other surfaces. This was in agreement with the trend in a comparable study performed by Livesay et al (2006). In the … analyses, all three infills were found to be
significantly different from one another. The highest torques were associated with the cryogenic SBR infill. This infill consisted of fine crumb rubber particles capable of packing into a dense structure thought to increase a cleated shoe’s resistance to rotation. The lowest torques were associated with the extruded infill, a larger rounded cylindrical particle made of TPE, incapable of packing as tight as the cryogenically processed infill. The open structure of the extruded infill layer was thought to reduce the frictional resistance.
Generation of excessive torque at the shoesurface interface was a factor of both the infill particle size and fiber spacing. The peak torques measured in the current study exceed injury levels based on cadaveric studies (Hirsch and Lewis, 1965). However, muscle stiffness has been shown to protect the lower extremity at similar torques
(Shoemaker, 1988). Future studies using a more biofidelic ankle may help establish relationships between shoe-surface interfaces and the potential for ankle injury.
Additionally, epidemiological studies of shoe and surface injury rates will be important for validating the injury risk potential of various shoe-surface interfaces.
SynTurf.org Note: We are grateful to Christiaan Arends for pointing us to this significant find. SynTurf.org’s sense is that, in time, this study and like of it, as well a ground swell of complaint by the players’ associations, will debunk yet another myth spun by the purveyors of artificial turf fields that this surface is safer to play on than natural grass. In a variety of postings on this site, we have relayed analyses that point to the conclusion that prolonged play on artificial turf fields is likely to produce career ending injuries among the youth and young adult players, prematurely. In the process of obtaining information about this study, SynTurf.org, also learned that an artificial turf manufacturer had threatened one of the researchers of the above study with a lawsuit in order to quash the publication of the above study. We hope it to be not so.
[No. 27]Red Sox rest up Lowell in advance of play on turf. “And on the 51st day of the season, he’ll rest,” wrote the Boston Herald (May 26, 2009) about Mike Lowell, the Red Sox third basemen, who has started in the 44 of the first 45 season’s games so far but not without aches and pains. Against Minnesota Twins [on May 26], therefore, he did not play. “Now seems like the smart time to take a break. The Sox are in the middle of an unusual stretch that will have them play seven straight games on artificial turf, which can wear down even the healthiest bodies. So tonight, finally, Lowell rests.” Source: Sean McAdam, “Veteran 3B’s contributions pleasant surprise: Mike Lowell earns a day off,” in The Boston Herald, May 26, 2009, available at
[No. 26] Ouch: Those pesky crumb rubber bits that injure!This about one Forrest Smithkors, a programming director for a radio show, with some decent soccer creds. So recently did decided to try out for the Kansas City Wizards. This is a part of his narrative from the first day of tryouts: “At the end of the first game I started to feel some pain in the ball of my foot. I assumed I had some of the pellets from the synthetic grass in my sock that were scraping my foot. It got worse and by the end of my 3rd game I removed my shoe to find out I was developing blisters on both of my feet. During my 2 hour break I picked up some medical supplies and bandaged my foot as much as possible but it was just too painful to play to my full ability.” Source: “Local DJ trys out for the Kansas City Wizards,” in Topeka-Capital Journal, March 10, 2009, available at http://www.cjonline.com/interact/blog/david_streeter/2009-03-10/local_dj_trys_out_for_the_kansas_city_wizards .
[No. 25] Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players: Is there a connection to playing on artificial turf? On Wednesday, January 29, 2009, a team of researchers unveiled the results of the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among Pop Warner and National Football league players. The disease is caused by multiple head injuries and afflicts individuals similarly to early-onset Alzheimer’s. In reporting on the story, The Boston Globe wrote, “In a discovery that is bound to reverberate through the nation's youth football community, clinical researchers reported yesterday that the brain of a recently deceased 18-year-old high school football player showed the earliest signs of an incurable debilitating disease caused by the kind of repetitive head trauma he experienced on the field. The discovery could provide new clues as to how much of a threat concussions are to athletes, including players from Pop Warner to the National Football League and those engaged in other contact sports, according to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.” For more on this story, see Bob Hohler, “Warning sign on youth football head trauma: Player had hint of brain disease,” in The Boston Globe, January 28, 2009, available at http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/01/28/warning_sign_on_youth_football_head_trauma/ .
SynTurf.org Note: SynTurf.org contacted the Boston Globe reporter, Bob Hohler with this inquiry: “[D]id any of the researchers with whom you spoke about this (or written work) indicate if the type of the playing surface leads to greater incidence of concussions? I am raising this because artificial turf fields provide greater traction and torque to players who then end up on high-speed collisions. As you know, not all concussions suffered in the field of play comes from contact with the ground.” Hohler replied, “The playing surface came up with former NFL guys who played on that horrible artificial turf that seemed to be little more than a rug on top of concrete. That was about it.” SynTurf.org rejoined, “That would have been a legitimate concern because of the hard fall. The speed of play/force of collision in the new turf fields is just as critical as it would have been then.”
Maybe the time has come for leagues and schools, too, to start keeping records of injuries in reference to artificial turf fields. In a sports-crazed world with all of it love of stats, why this one has escaped scrutiny for this long?
[No. 24] Survey: NFL players prefer natural grass. On January 29, 2009, the National Football league Player Association released its 2008 Playing Surface Survey. http://www.nflplayers.com/user/video.aspx?pid=825&aid=0&sh=0&type=v. According to news stories, “NFL players overwhelming prefer grass to artificial turf, with 71.7 percent voting for a natural surface.” See, for example, Associated Press, “Top turf in NFL? Cards best, Steelers worst,” in The Evening Sun (HanoverPA), January 29, 2009.
SynTurf.org Note: Maybe the time has come for leagues and schools, too, to start keeping records of injuries in reference to artificial turf fields. In a sports-crazed world with all of it love of stats, why this one has escaped scrutiny for this long?
[No. 23] The “sticky turf” syndrome can cause severe ankle injury. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. January 11, 2009. One of the favorite charades put on by the proponents of artificial turf fields is to have a student athlete or parent to come up to the podium (in a cast and crutches if at all coincidental) and blame their ankle or knee injury on the school’s bad, bad and ill-maintained natural grass fields. A few weeks ago I was watching a legislator in a city near Boston rise in the well of the Aldermanic chamber and suggest that he was voting for artificial turf fields at a local high school because some years ago he twisted his ankle on those fields. Poor, baby! Well, here is a little story about the injury suffered by one Jon Cooper, OklahomaUniversity’s center and the All-Big 12 offensive lineman of the year. Cooper hurt his ankle in 2005 during a goal-line play when his foot was stuck on the artificial turf in Lubbock, Texas, and another player rolled on top of the ankle from the other side. He broke both ankle bones and tore every ligament. Ever since he has been trying get to 100%. In 2009 he was at 85 percent. Gee, Mr. Alderman, I guess you made out better than Cooper, eh? Of all the lame excuses to vote for artificial turf!
[No. 22] Ben Roethlisberger credits natural grass for staving off injury. According to a news article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (January 5, 2009), on Monday, January 5, 2009, “Ben Roethlisberger credited the giving grass surface for saving him from a more serious injury Dec[ember] 28 when his head bounced off it after Cleveland linebackers Willie McGinest and D'Qwell Jackson knocked him to the turf late in the first half.” And so, “That artificial turf the Steelers never installed at Heinz Field might have saved them a franchise quarterback. Or at least, saved him from a bigger headache.” The report quoted Steelers quarterback as saying, “I'm glad we weren't on FieldTurf. That grass – you know, the soft Heinz Field – might've helped a little bit. That whiplash is always a pain. If you ask any position player, when they hit that ground with the whiplash, it's going to hurt like crazy.” His arms went temporarily numb. “Yeah, I couldn't feel them,” he said. “They pricked me with a pin and I couldn't feel it. When you see the doctor look at the trainer with that look, it kind of scares you a little bit.” According to the report, “Heinz Field has a DDGrassMaster surface that is grass held in place by poly fibers. The surface was installed after last season, but not before artificial turf was seriously considered, particularly after the 3-0 ‘Muck Game’ victory against the winless Dolphins on Nov. 26, 2007. The Steelers installed grass sod on top of their surface this season after their Nov. 20 game against Cincinnati.” Ed Bouchette, “Big Ben enjoys homefield grass,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2009, available at http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/05/chargers-s6pitt/?chargers
[No. 21] Turf is the culprit in Mark Jones’s injury. The The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) reported on December 7, 2008,“The quadriceps in Carolina Panther’s kick returner’s left leg is noticeably smaller than his right quad -- a 1 1/2-inch difference in diameter.” The atrophy suffered by Mark Jones “is a visible reminder of the gruesome injury that threatened his career last season when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” “While returning a kickoff at Detroit's Ford Field on Oct. 21, 2007, a Lions defender pulled him down, yanking his body backward. His left foot got caught in the artificial turf, causing his patella tendon to rupture.” For more on this story go to Charles Chandler, “Talk about making return,” in The News & Observer, December 7, 2008, available at http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/story/1324376.html .
[No. 20] Washington, D.C.: Kehoe Field’s turf poses danger to student athletes. By Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 24, 2008. According to the Voice (October 23, 2008) the turf at Georgetown University’s Kehoe Field is in dismal shape and poses danger to athletes. According to Walker Loetscher, “You’ll be in the midst of a great run down the left wing, or backpedaling toward the end zone to break up a game-winning touchdown pass, when one of them sneaks out of nowhere, grabs your leg, and twists. You’ll writhe on the ground for a minute, stand up, and try to walk the injury off. No such luck. Whether it’s a sprained ankle, pulled hammy, or twisted knee, you’ve been bested again by one of those tricky Kehoe specials—the bumpy irregularities that litter Georgetown’s only recreation field for student use.” For more of the article, go to Loetscher, Nasty turf burn,” in Voice, October 23, 2008, available at http://www.georgetownvoice.com/2008-10-23/sports/nasty-turf-burn or click here.
[No. 19] A primer on turf toe. In recent weeks turf toe has sidelined the USC Trojans running back Joe McKnight and the Ohio State’s running back Chris “Beanie” Wells. On October 10, 2008, Sports Blog Nation carried a piece by Paragon SC on the mechanics of turf toe. Entitled “Injury Clinic: The McNight Injury,” the piece is available at http://www.conquestchronicles.com/2008/10/17/636788/the-injury-clinic-the-mckn or click here. Turf toe is known as metatarsalphalangeal (MTP) joint sprain. It is a hyperdorsiflexion injury to the joint and connective tissue between the foot and the big toe. The injury usually results from a hyperflexion mechanism; the toe is bent to far upward. This can result from a hard push off on a rigid surface, having the toe forcibly flexed while being tackled, or by stopping short allowing the toe to jam in the toe box of the shoe. These mechanisms cause damage to the ligaments of the joint and the joint capsule. The prevalence of artificial turf fields seems to have increased the incidence of turf toe among athletes.
[No. 18]Poughkeepsie, NY: Injuries are common on artificial turf.On August 30, 2008, the Poughkeepsie Journal quoted Chris Campilii, owner of the Center for Physical Therapy in WappingersFalls,as saying “Things are faster and quicker on a turf field. This leads to more injuries. The speed of the game is much quicker. You make a cut and someone hits you, your foot sticks a little bit better. You'll get much less ligament injuries on natural grass fields.” He explained the mechanics of the injuries: “[Turf surface] causes more torque on the joints and the ligaments. Thus, you will see higher-speed injuries with more frequency.” And, therefore, “You'll definitely see more injuries.”
[No. 17]Illinois sports medicine physician explains down side of playing on turf.
Artificial field turf may have its advantages, but it's not all home runs and touchdowns. There are some downsides.
The surface is made from rubber, sand and a synthetic material that makes up the surface. As a result, turf can be hard on an athlete's skin. As athletes slide on artificial turf, their skin can sustain cuts, abrasions, or friction burns.
Dr. Geoffry Kuhlman, a sports medicine physician in Hinsdale [Illinois], said turf has more traction than natural grass. Thus, athletes playing on it may be more prone to muscle strains in their legs.
"When you're on turf, the foot doesn't rotate or slide the way it does on natural grass," Kuhlman said.
In addition, artificial turf requires periodic disinfection, as it has no natural process present to kill germs. Bacteria can grow on it.
Artificial turf also becomes hotter under the sun.
[No. 16]Bill Littlefield,Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports. The Boston Sunday Globe, July 27, 2008, Ideas section, p. K6. A Book Review of Tom Farrey’s Game Plan: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, andMichael Sokolove’s, Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports. Available on line at http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/07/27/getting_played?mode=PF .
Bill Littlefield is the sports broadcast journalist at National Public Radio. His program is called “Only a Game.” In this book review, Littlefield also offers his own observations of the youth sports scene. In collegiate athletics, what used to be walk-ons at a time when the nation weighed less is replaced by recruitment. “As a result parents and coaches have been pushing children to specialize at younger and younger ages.”
SynTurf.org believes, the specialization of the wunderkind particularly in the suburban communities, has led to a culture that separates at an early age the “competition-minded” from “exercise-minded” and promotes the alienation of a large segment of the student population that turns away from sports (physical activity) because they are told or feel they do not or cannot measure up. Increasingly, they are relegated to Physical Education or gym classes for a few hours in a week. Who know, if this de-socialization of our youth at such an early age then does not result in depression, feeling of rejection and other disorders, including eating disorders (obesity).As more and more venues become less and less available for the “exercise-minded,” pickup games once in an unrestrictedpublic park too will soon become a thing of the past.
Littlefield highlights Tom Ferry’s assertion that there is “something structurally askewwith the whole setup” of youth sports in the United States, “home to the fattest children in the world,” in part because the system rewards “early bloomers, leaving the rest behind.”
Sokolove’s point is that in this culture, the way kids play sports is not particularly good for either sex. “For the girls, though, it is all too often disastrous.” This is because for a variety of reasons, writes Littlefield, “girls suffer more knee, back, nd head injuries than men playing the same sports. At the most competitive levels of soccer and basketball, girls and women suffer anterior cruciate ligament tears about eight times as often as men do.” Sokolove writes, “What does threaten women’s sports is that far too many girls and young women are leaving the playing field broken up and in pain.” “he makes the his case with statistics, interviews, and powerful stories about women who might have been stars if their knees hand’t exploded.,” writes Littlefield of Sokolove’s work. Sokolove suggest kids play several different sports, because “specialization means more stress through repetitive motion on the same developing muscles and joints.” “he encourages parents to resist the ‘bullying’ of coaches who argue that without a full time, year-around commitment. A 10-year old athlete will fall behind her peers.”
SynTurf.org believes turf fields are a part of that year-round or near-year-around programs and therefore promote the very culture that Ferry, Sokolove and Littlefieldagree is “askew.”
[No. 15] Jamaica’s under-17 women’s soccer team doctor says artificial turf increases rate of injuries. According to a news story in the Jamaica Observer, “Dr Mark Sanderson, team doctor on tour with Jamaica's Under-17 women's football [soccer] team, believes any move to popularise artificial turf in football will only serve to increase the rate of injuries to players.” In a Sporting World exclusive Sanderson, a medical doctor of 14 years, said the proposed study on incidents of injuries to players on artificial turf versus natural grass, is primarily for financial reasons as football nations seek ways of slashing field maintenance costs.” Sanderson said that pitches are made from waste rubber, while pointing that on a sunny day that's 35 degrees celsius in the ambient and on the pitch it might actually be 42 degrees celsius, which can cause several serious heat-related concerns for players…. Consequently, “youth players stand to suffer the most, and overall, players will more often than not perform below optimum levels.” Sanderson also rubbished the claim that third generation turf fields are virtually like natural grass. “Remember apart from the goalkeeper the rest of the players aren't well clothed, so there still is going to be a significant risk of them having burnt injuries. It's going to make the game less attractive, because players still complain about the bounce of the ball on the hard surface. Players tend to play more cautious on artificial turf because of the frequency and severity of injuries. Fans have difficulty adapting to the glare from this type of surface, which is taking something away from the game."
[No. 14] Connection between turf and concussion in female field players: a hypothesis. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 17, 2008. A recent news story in The Boston Globe reported that female athletes suffer more head injuries than males. The article described the concussion suffered by a University of Massachusetts’ midfielder when she went up for a header and was knocked off balance by the impact of another player’s head hitting hers. The article was focused on girls experiencing concussion at rates 27% more than boys in soccer, 66% in basketball and 80% in ice hockey. See Jordana Bieze Foster, “Female athletes suffer more head injuries than males,” The Boston Globe, July 14, 2008, Health/Science section, at page A7, available athttp://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2008/07/14/female_athletes_suffer_more_head_injuries_than_males/ .
The article did not mention the surface or speed as a contributing factor to the concussion suffered by the midfielder. Nevertheless, here is however a hypothesis about the role of turf and speed in contributing to collisions that may result in concussion.
One of the characteristics of artificial turf fields is the superior, no-skid traction that artificial turf provides to the athlete, come rain or shine. That characteristic alone contributes to running speed. In a sport lie soccer, the athlete foot speed is further warranted be cause of the faster speed by which the ball moves on the turf surface. The faster the ball speed and faster players combined to generally speed up the game. It is, therefore, a matter of reasonable inference, collisions in soccer games that are played on turf fields are often unavoidable and with harder impact. It is SynTurf.rg’s view, while the size of the arena, athleticism and type of surface in ice hockey and basketball generate speed, which need not be the case in soccer. In girls’ soccer (as well as in boys), speed can be reduced if the game is played on natural grass. This especially should be the case for youth soccer.
[No. 13] Orthopedic surgeon: Athletes get hurt on turf as often as on grass. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 26, 2008. Dr. Craig McKirgan is an orthopedic surgeon with the Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (COSM) in Indiana, Pennsylvania. According to a news story in Indiana Gazette, on Monday, June 23, 2008, McKirgan’s 45-minute PowerPoint presentation to the Indiana Area School Board showed “that athletes get hurt playing on artificial turf as often as they do playing on natural grass.”He also told the Board “that players have higher risks of contracting MRSA, a drug-resistant bacteria, from sitting in a whirlpool or sharing towels than they do from falling on artificial turf.” McKirgan said his PowerPoint presentation will be posted next week on his company's Web site, www.pacosm.com. Source: Chauncy Ross, “IASD: Prthopedic surgeon weighs in on turf issue,” in Indiana Gazette, June 24, 2008, available at http://online.indianagazette.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30793&Itemid=52 .
[No. 12] Synthetic turf: A Question of Infection, a video clip (June 2008). Warning: strong content, may induce vomit. The following link will take you to the above-titled clip on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK7oD3BpBDs. It is from sfparks.
[No. 11] Protecting users from heat and health hazards of turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 22, 2008. On June 19, 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory about lead in artificial turf fields. In practice, many municipalities have taken to advising players and parents along the lines recommended by the New Jersey Department of health and Senior Services – “[to] perform aggressive hand and body washing after playing on the field, and clothing used on the field should be washed separately.” The New Jersey Department of Health guidelines suggest restricting children under age 7 from using fields with high lead levels, watering down the surface to suppress dust and thoroughly washing hands, bodies and clothing after using the fields. When elevated level of lead forced the closure of the turf field at the CampHenry (Taegu, South Korea), Dr. (Maj.) Remington Nevin, of the 18th Medical Command’s preventive medicine section, stated “The field at CampHenry does pose a potential for exposure to lead, provided that children actually ingest whatever dust might come from degradation of that field. Lead should be avoided by adults but is more likely to cause health problems if ingested by children 6 years old or younger. The primary risk is to younger children prone to hand-to-mouth activities. Parents can minimize lead exposure to children by keeping shoes off while in the home, vacuuming with a HEPA filter, cleaning off dust, washing hands and encouraging proper hygiene.” Should such information be posted at the fields as well? The lead dust controversy that began in New Jersey may very well trigger a requirement by the insurance carriers to have municipalities post health signs at artificial turf fields.
The irony here is that turf facilities have a long list of installer/owner-recommended warnings about activities that could damage the carpet. Yet, so far, there has been very little movement on the part of public officials to require posting of health-related signage at artificial turf fields.
Prompted by a recent inquiry as to whether any turf field in the country has a “heat” warning about posting of heat signs at turf fields, SynTurf.org surveyed its readership for any heat or other health related posting at artificial turf fields. It would seem that there is only one such signage anywhere in the country: “Stay healthy: Wash your hands and any cuts, scrapes or burns after play,” reads the sign at South Sunset Playground, San Francisco, California.
In April 2008, SynTurf.org reported on two Massachusetts towns where public health officials were considering signs at turf fields that warned about the heat effect on the fields. “On hot, sunny days, artificial turf can reach turf ground temperatures up to 20 degrees hotter than black asphalt surfaces and/or up to 50 degrees hotter than natural turf. Please be aware that direct contact with these surfaces by you, your children or pets when the temperature is elevated may lead to contact skin burns and/or heat prostration. In addition due to the increased temperature in the over all field environment during these periods, coaches, players and participants are advised to keep fluids readily available and pay close attention to staying hydrated to avoid metabolic heat stress.” There has been no indication if caution overcame the unwillingness of the pols in of Wayland and Weston.
In annals of turf heat studies, the 2002 measurements by Frank & Williams at Brigham Young University is especially a propos because the study was triggered by complaints from the football coach, who reportedly too suffered blisters on his feet. The Utah Studysoon gave rise to more localized measurements and many of these from Missouri to New York City and Massachusetts have been featured on SynTurf.org. When it came to ascertaining practical health tips and sound field practices, it was all the more appropriate for SynTurf.org to see how they do things at BrighamYoungUniversity.
In a telephone conversation on June 16, 2008, Roy Peterman, director of grounds department (801-422-5410), stated there is no sign or written policy as such to warn players against elevated field temperatures. In the summer months, when the fields receive sunlight as the same angle and with equal severity of southern California, the fields are used 50 minutes at a time, with ten minutes set aside for players to rest and watering the fields. “We use an irrigation system that the supervisors can activate with the push of a button,” he said. The irrigation is necessary to keep the field temperature to below 120 degrees, he said. The university’s approach to combating the heating effect of the turf fields is helped by the fields being closed facilities, with no free play on the part of students or members of the public.
Peterman considers the proper maintenance of the fields as a greater preoccupation. “Contaminants is a problem with turf fields. You’ve got to maintain the fields. If you have leaves, for example, pathogens is a high possibility.” Another factor in both play and promotion of pathogen is humidity. If the area is humid that is one issue; then by watering the field the humidity goes up, he said. Another problem is the compaction of the field if not maintained properly. “This, Peterman said, “can result in juries.” Already, even on a well-maintained turf field, Peterman noted, last year there were 13 more injuries on artificial turf than on natural grass fields. “The turf is tight, it grabs the cleat when making a cut, and the bounce off the turf rebounds back to the knee and shins.”
In a municipal setting, Peterman said, “It is probably a good idea to put a sign warning about temperature and humidity,” to protect players.
 Erik Slavin (co-contributors Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten), “Lead found at South Korea sports fields; CampHenry facility is closed,” in Stars & Stripes, June 22, 2008, available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55691 (co-contributors to the article Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten).
[No. 10] South African soccer legend Lucas Radebe cautions about artificial turf. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 10, 2008. The Republic of South Africa is the venue for the 2010 World Cup soccer games. In an effort to meet the demand for international class playing fields, a few new pitches are being readied.
On Sunday, June 8, 2008, the South African soccer legend Lucas Radebe was at hand to mark the opening of FNB Wadley Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. The venue has South Africa’s first full sized artificial turf field.
While there are reasons why artificial turf might make sense for the 2010 World Cup games in South Africa, Radebe, who played for and captained Leeds United in the 1998/99 season in England, nonetheless has concerns about artificial turf. He told SuperSport "I used to train on it (artificial turf) in England during my playing days and some of the guys used to complain about their ankles or knees hurting. It does and will affect the joints if a player or a team uses it everyday. I don't see a professional team using it everyday as a training ground or for matches on a weekly basis. It definitely is good for tournaments and games now and again, but not on a regular basis."
[No. 09]Argonauts’ running back injured by artificial turf. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 6, 2008. It is a very familiar sight at most public meetings that considers the installation of artificial turf fields – a youngsters takes the microphone and relates an episode that resulted in an ankle injury because of the deplorable conditions of the town’s natural grass field. The implication here is that artificial turf field will not cause injury or as many. This is a fallacious marketing point that the turf industry advances and the municipalities buy it with as much readiness as the notion that a turf field needs no maintenance.
The Argonauts are a Canadian Football League team based in Toronto, Ontario. Tyler Ebell is newly acquired running back on the Argonauts. According to a report in the TorontoStar, a few days ago, Ebell was “carted off the artificial turf … with a left ankle injury. The former UCLA and University of Texas El Paso back, who rushed for 650 yards on 124 carries last season, wasn't carrying the ball but went down mysteriously during a scrimmage. He was helped off the field, without putting weight on his left leg. After some attention on the sidelines, he was taken to the Argos' team doctor for an assessment…. It's believed Ebell caught a cleat in the turf. Ironically, the injury happened only two days after Stubler had said he was looking for tough running backs who could play 18 games and avoid the rash of injuries that hit the club last season.” To read more about this story, see Chris Zelkovich, “Ebell, expected to be the starter, catches clean in turf during practice and twists left ankle,” in TheStar.com, June 5, 2008, available athttp://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/437310.
[No. 08] Making of the artificial turf less injurious to athletes. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 13, 2008.
“[National Football League] trainers and physicians are looking to prevent some of the most common foot and ankle injuries among players, primarily high-ankle sprains and turf toe, an ailment involving joint tears, swelling and intense pain often linked to playing on artificial surfaces,” according to an Associated Press story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune,on May 10, 2008. See below for details.
One source of excellent information about the challenges that artificial turf field poses to an athlete’s health, safety and wellness is often the turf industries own efforts to make the artificial turf safer and less injurious.
According to the Herald Tribune, a mechanical engineer in Boise, Idaho, has built a machine that “could provide the [National Football League] with some of the most comprehensive information available on how and why turf-related injuries occur, and if changes in footwear or artificial turf could result in fewer injuries for NFL players.” Here are a few experts from the article:
Next month, an NFL Injury and Safety subcommittee will see the device for the first time.
League trainers and physicians are looking to prevent some of the most common foot and ankle injuries among players, primarily high-ankle sprains and turf toe, an ailment involving joint tears, swelling and intense pain often linked to playing on artificial surfaces.
Dr. Michael Coughlin, co-chairman of the NFL subcommittee on foot and ankle injuries, contends the new playing surfaces may create more of a risk for ankle and foot injuries.
"We have some preliminary information that leads us to believe that there may be a higher injury rate on the newer infill surfaces compared to grass," Coughlin said.
[No. 07 ] Is artificial turf especially cruel to female athletes? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 15, 2008. In September 2007, SynTurf.org published a brief called “Beckham’s Lament” (http://www.synturf.org/beckhamslament.html). It explored the relationship between foot fixation injuries and artificial turf. These are injuries that result from damage to ligaments and joints because of the kind of speed, stops and cuts that an athlete can achieve because of the traction of the turf.
None of the athlete-related materials reported on SynTurf.org makes a distinction between male and female athletes. However, as it turns out for the most part the reporting has been from the male athletic perspective, especially professional soccer and football. That may well change, as we learn more about “Women athletes win[ning] equal time on injury list.” That is the title of an article by Judy Foreman for the Health/Science section of The Boston Globe (April 14, 2008), pages C1-C2, available at http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/04/14/women_athletes_win_equal_time_on_injury_list. The article does not discuss turf in particular, but does point out to the greater risk of injury in areas in which the female athlete is more vulnerable than a male athlete because of the difference their physiologies. SynTurf.org asks: If certain parts of the male anatomy takes a beating from playing on turf, would not playing on turf be more damaging to the same but weaker body part in a female?
Here are excerpts from the Foreman article that should answer the question: Is Artificial Turf Especially Cruel to Female Athletes?
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 3 million high school girls play sports. “But there's a dark side to this terrific news: The more girls and women play sports, the more they, like boys and men, get hurt. And - attention athletes, coaches, and parents - they get hurt in different ways.”
Basketball is “brutal on that most vulnerable part of the female athlete's anatomy: the knees.” “And even plain old running seems to be tougher on women's legs than on men's, though it's not clear why.”
“[A]thletic activities can cause different injuries in women and girls than in men and boys. Female athletes and their coaches should pay increased attention to the anatomical differences that put girls and women at disproportionate risks for certain injuries.”
“The sports injuries that seem to disproportionately affect women include:
- Tears in the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, in the knee, a problem that hits basketball and soccer players especially.
- Plantar fasciitis, in which activity can cause tiny tears in heel tissue.
- Compartment syndrome in runners, in which lower leg muscles get too tight for the surrounding space, causing severe pain.
- Shin splints in runners, in which repetitive stress can lead to pain and even fractures in the lower leg.
- Kneecap pain.
- Pain along the outside portion of the leg in the iliotibial band, between the knee and the hip, known as iliotibial band friction syndrome.”
“Women's knees are more vulnerable than men's because the "Q-angle" - the angle between the hip and the knee - is greater in women than in men. While wide hips are good for childbearing, they mean there is more stress on the knee in moves like landing from a jump and twisting. This torque can shred the ACL, a ligament that helps stabilize the knee. This is a major reason why female athletes have four times more ACL tears than men do, said Dr. George Theodore, a Red Sox team physician and sports medicine specialist at Massachusetts GeneralHospital.”
“Making matters worse for women's knees, especially among basketball players, is that women tend to ‘cut,’ or suddenly change direction, differently from men.” "There's more of a tendency for women to change direction on just one foot, maybe because of the width of the pelvis, while men often use two feet."
“Wider hips also mean that there may be more ‘pull’ on the kneecap, which can cause pain when running uphill. Kneecap cartilage also seems to wear down more in women than in men. And women's kneecaps slide around more from side to side, in part because women have more estrogen, which can make women's ligaments more flexible than men's.
“Fortunately, solutions exist for these problems. One is better coaching for females - to teach them how to run, jump, land, and twist safely. Another is orthotics, devices that can be put in shoes to minimize stress on knee, ankle, and hip joints. And, of course, everyone should use appropriate safety equipment, such as thicker mats for gymnasts, helmets for cyclists, and headgear in soccer, which obviously benefit men as well as women.”
[No. 06] MLS urged to go with natural grass. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 4, 2008. In this morning’s Boston Globe (4 March, 2008, Sports section, page D8), Frank Dell’Apa stated that the Major league Soccer should not approve artificial turf for the new stadium that will be the home of the newly approved Philadelphia soccer franchise. The stadium will in Chester, Pennsylvania. See “Soccer Notes: Opportunity is there for someone to strike” (item subtitle: Grass is greener) available at http://www.boston.com/sports/articles/2008/03/04/opportunity_is_there_for_someone_to_strike/?page=2.
Dell’Apa reported that by next season 12 of the 14 current teams will be playing on grass fields, with New York and Real Salt Lake going with natural grass, “a trend that should be encouraged,” Dell’Apa wrote. The reason for this exhortation by Dell’Apa is quite clear to the fans of SynTurf.org and other advocates seeking to limit, regulate or outright ban artificial turf fields. Here is what Dell’Apa wrote:
Artificial turf has been significantly improved by recent technological advances, but it is still fake turf and simply does not compare favorably with real grass in so many ways. The only selling point for artificial turf is that maintenance costs are lower, especially in multi-use stadia. But these costs must be weighed against the cost of having to replace the artificial turf every five years or so; that savings is not going to be significant. If MLS wants to be cost-effective, there are better ways of doing so. The other problem is turf's effects on players, especially concerning lower-leg injuries. However, Dell’Apa also pointed out that “[t]here is a place for artificial turf in programs involving amateurs and young players, especially in the Northeast, where playing conditions are difficult. But professionals should not be expected to practice on artificial surfaces and play on them regularly.” SynTurf.org believes, artificial turf fields should have no place in amateur or youth sports. Bo group of enthusiast should have license to spoil the environment and place the public, young and old, in risk of being exposed to harmful substances that have been identified as part of artificial turf fields. Moreover, while the youth are resilient bunch, suffering lower-leg injuries at a young age may well either turn players away from the game or cripple a career far sooner.
The exposure of young vital organs to potentially harmful substances that turf fields contain may well result in far greater health complications. On the other hand, the ill effects of pesticides and fertilizers used on natural grass fields can be replaced with organic versions of both. Types of grass now exist that grow faster and in much more adverse climates than before. Meanwhile, it should be no secret, the artificial turf fields themselves require substantial amount of bactericide and fungicide and pesticides and other treatments in order to have them kept in a decent playing condition. For more background on maintenance issues associated with artificial turf, go tohttp://www.synturf.org/maintenance.html.
No. 01] Editor's Note: It is a no-brainer that an athlete’s health can be jeopardized by exposure to extreme temperatures, overly hard or overly soft surfaces, greater speed at point of impact, with the field or other players, staphylococcus (staph) infections by way of skin abrasion (turf-burn) caused by parasitic bacterium present on the playing surface from human sources. That is true of both artificial turf and natural grass playing fields. Furthermore, field condition, adequate preparation, warm up, previous injury, equipment, footwear, aggressive play, medical impairment, fatigue, and sheer dumb luck are all part of the athletic health and safety picture, regardless of the type of playing surface. The jury is still out on whether the “new generation” artificial turf, like rubber infill fields, cause greater injury than natural turf. This has been hampered by a few developments. The promoters of artificial turf are quick to point out that the new fields are not like the old Astro-turf, which was a carpet laid on top of cement slap. However, it is old hat, the old surface was more injurious to players than natural turf. This has been the finding of many a studies, including one titled “The study titled “Injury Risk in Men’s Canada West University Football” by Brent E. Hagel, Gordon H. Fick and Willem H. Meeuwisse, published in theAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, volume 157, pages 825-833 (2003), available at http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/157/9/825. The public’s concern about safety of the “new generation” fields is often dismissed as having their basis in the old studies about Astro-turf or earlier versions of the “new generation” infill turf. The assessment of safety risk of the “new generation” is often rendered difficult because of a large number of product names, suppliers, manufacturers and installers. The industry is in a state of flux in terms of vertical and horizontal integrations, mergers and acquisitions, international marketing, private labeling, branding and other considerations. For example, in one Pennsylvania study no less than 8 different infill fields where installed for a five-year test period. http://cropsoil.psu.edu/mcnitt/infill3.cfm. The savvy salesman will state that his product is not the same as the one that has raised questions in the mind of the public. With very little information available for the purposes of impeachment of such claims, the public remains in the dark. However, there is a body of growing literature that has looked at the health and safety risks that the “new generation” of artificial turf poses to youth and adult athletes. There is an emerging consensus on two issues: (i) artificial turf is not inherently safer than natural grass, and (ii) artificial turf causes a different kind of injury than natural grass. 2007 -- In a Turkish study titled “Is it safe to play on synthetic turf for ACL injury?,” by Derya Ozer, Irem Duzgun, Baran Yosmaoglu, Volga Bayracki Tunay, Gul Baltaci and Nevin Ergum, and published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (www.jssm.org) (2007, Supplement 10), researched the role of synthetic turf in Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries of soccer players. It concluded that playing fields as tough as synthetic turf that is not suitable for standard conditions may indicate a risk factor for ACL ruptures not only for amateur players but also professionals. Therefore, “we would like to warn especially amateur-weekend soccer players about the surface that if you play on synthetic turf you are probably at high risk of having a rupture of ACL.” http://www.jssm.org/suppls/10/Suppl.10.p40-43.pdf. 2006 -- A Swedish study titled “Risk of injury in elite football played on artificial turf versus natural grass: a perspective two-cohort study,” by Jan Ekstrand, T. Timpka and M. Hagglund, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol.40:975-980 (2006), found a higher risk of ankle sprain on artificial turf compared with grass. It concluded, however, there was no evidence of a greater risk of injury when soccer was played on artificial turf, compared with natural grass. The higher incidence of ankle sprain on artificial turf however warranted further attention. www.bjsportmed.com; http://www.fifa.com/documents/fifa/publication/The_risk_for_injury_when_playing_football_on_artificial_turf_versus_natural_grass.pdf;http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/40/12/975?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&volume=40&firstpage=975&resourcetype=HWCIT 2006 -- A study titled “ Injuries to High School Football Athletes in California,” by Marizen Ramirez, Kathryn Brown Schaeffer, Haikang Shen, Saman Kashani and Jess F. Kraus, and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 34:1147-1158 (2006), concluded that session rates of injury were highest during games on artificial turf, foggy weather and clear evenings. http://ajs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/34/7/1147
2004 -- The study titled “Incidence, causes, and severity of high school football injuries on FieldTurf versus natural grass: a 5-year prospective,” by M.C. Meyers and B.S. Barnhill of West Texas A & M University and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 32(7):1628-38 (Oct-Nov 2004), compared injury incidence of eight high school football teams playing on infill synthetic surface (FieldTurf) and natural turfgrass surfaces. It found higher incidence of 0-day time loss injuries, non-contact injuries surface/epidermal injuries, muscle-related trauma, and injuries during higher temperatures were reported on FieldTurf. However, it found also a higher incidence of 1- to 2-day time loss injuries, 22+ days time loss injuries, head and neural trauma, and ligament injuries were reported on natural grass. The study concluded that although similarities existed between FieldTurf and natural grass over a 5-year period of competitive play, both surfaces also exhibited unique injury patterns that warrant further investigation.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15494326&dopt=Abstract
2003 -- A study titled “Sports Safety in Australia,” July 2003, concluded “It has been suggested that lower limb injuries, particularly in elite Australian Rules Football, are related to ground conditions and surfaces or the pace of the game. However, specific examination of these factors in community-level sport has yet to be undertaken.” In this assessment the study relied on a 2003 study by Murphy and others on risk factors for lower limb injuries, published previously in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In that study, three factors were sited for lower limb injury in general: competition settings versus training, artificial turf versus grass or gravel, and previous injury coupled with inadequate rehabilitation. http://www.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/2004/dha/ch6.pdf. The Murphy study was cited also in “Epidemiology of Soccer Injuries in Rwanda: A Need for Physiotherapy Intervention,” a supervised masters of science thesis by Janvier Twizere, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape, South Africa (November 2004) http://ww3.uwc.ac.za/docs/%20Library/Theses/Theses%202005%201st%20Grad/Twizere_j.pdf.
At Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium the artificial turf has been replaced with the new natural turf integrated modular technology. The Michigan State Spartans had decided to switch from the 8 season-old artificial turf to grass because it was worn out. The conversion was instigated at the request of coach, Bobby Williams, because he believed that natural turf cuts down on injuries. http://www.sportsvenue-technology.com/projects/greentech/.
For an article on the hazards of turf from a player's perspective, please go this site (www.syntruf.org), page called "WarpUpArticles," Article No. 1 (Beckham's Lament).
No. 2] Synthetic Turf Playing Fields Present Unique Dangers,” posted on Plant Management Network's Applied Turfgrass Science (November 3, 2005). The following is a summary of the article:
Professor Michael Meyers at West Texas A&M University tracked playing field injuries in Texas high schools for eight years. According to him, athletes tend to suffer injuries at roughly the same frequency on natural and synthetic turfs, but different surfaces tend to result in different types of injuries. There is more torque, more velocity and more traction on artificial turf and that can lead to more muscle strains and spasms. Brad Fresenburg, turfgrass expert at the University of Missouri believes that the greater traction obtained on artificial turf increases the potential pressure on joints and bones from the inability of a fully planted cleat-wearing foot to divot or twist out. According to Rex Sharp, University of Missouri’s head athletic trainer, synthetic turf is as safe as grass. However, outdoor artificial turf fields will get hotter under certain conditions. In his experience the artificial fields get at least 10 to 15 degrees hotter under the afternoon sun and, so, the university staff constantly monitor field temperatures during practices. According to the turfgrass expert at University of Missouri, Brad Fresenburg, the drawback on artificial turf is that the rubber and plastic materials amplify sunlight to cause near unbearable temperatures at certain times of the day. When teams play on grass, they leave divots and ripped out grass. While most lament the “damaged” turf, in reality divots mean that the field is doing its job -- yielding to the athletes' cleats. Another danger with artificial turf is the threat of bacterial infections. According to Fresenburg natural grass has a microbial system and is self-cleaning, whereas the warmth and trapped moisture in synthetic turf fields is where bacteria thrive. The sweat, spit and blood do not biodegrade as they do on natural grass. Therefore, disinfectant should be sprayed as needed if there's a known infection risk. According to Sharp, players need to immediately report any "turf-burns," which must be immediately washed with soap and water to prevent infection. Often young athletes are inclined to ignore seemingly minor injuries so it is up to the coaches and parents to educating the young to let grown ups clean and treat the burns on the spot. Go here for details: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/ats/news/2005/synthetic.
No. 03] Staph infection at Winchester High School.http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/10/20/winchester_sports. The recent Staph infection (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) suffered by a member of Winchester High School [Massachusetts] football team is shedding more light on the prevalence of MRSA infections in our schools. The article repeats the common understanding that people should not share personal items used by others, wash their hands and maintain good hygiene in order to minimize the chance of getting this bacterial infection from others. Stephen Smith “Winchester sports team is checked for MRSA,” The Boston Globe, October 20, 2007, pages B1, and B5 ( The article makes no mention of the abrasions that athletes sustain when they play on artificial surfaces and how that renders them all the more susceptible to getting Staph infection when they come into contact with a person or items bearing the bacteria, possibly including the turf surface itself. The article makes it clear that the bacteria survive on open surfaces like razors, towels, drink bottles, and other things. While turf dos not cause Staph, it is capable of contributing to the contagion because the contact (impact, slide) with the turf does cause abrasions and burns on the skin and, if not treated appropriately, Staph infection can enter the body by way of the abrasion. Unlike natural grass and soil that breakdown and eliminate bacteria, the turf does not have the self-cleaning capability and must be cleansed with bactericides.
A "wrap up" article on turf-related Staph infection appears on this site (www.synturf.org), at "WrapUpArticles" page, Item No. 3.
No. 04] Field of Nightmares: Can playing sports on artificial turf kill you? As the debate rages on, parents need to hear the story of one young Texas athlete who's lucky to be alive, by Patricia Kilday hart, in Texas Monthly, Volume 34, Isssue 5 (Austin: Texas Monthly, a Division of Emmis Publishing, LP), May 2006), available at http://www.texasmonthly.com/preview/2006-05-01/hart.
Abstract (Summary) Boone's doctors don't know where the MRSA originated, though they believe it entered his body through the turf burn. Westlake trainer Brad Hawkins says he knows of no MRSA cases at the school, leading him to conclude that the school's artificial turf is not contaminated. But Westlake athletic director and head football coach Derek Long acknowledges that the school once scrubbed down its field following a staph outbreak (not of the MRSA variety), in 2003. IT HAPPENED ON THE MOST ordinary of plays. Sixteen-year-old Boone Baker, playing wide receiver on the Austin High Maroons junior varsity last October 7, sprinted a quick five yards before turning and snagging a short pass from his quarterback sometime in the second half of a Friday night game against archrival Westlake High. Immediately after Boone caught the pass, he was tackled, hard, with his left shoulder crashing into the artificial turf of Chaparral Stadium. He remembers feeling a burning abrasion on his shoulder when he got up, but he shrugged it off and returned to the huddle.
As football games go, it was a mundane moment, with nothing to presage the medical nightmare that three months later would almost cost Boone his life and temporarily rob him of his mobility and his eyesight in one eye. On that seemingly insignificant play, this strapping, 176-pound, six-foot-two-inch teenager unknowingly joined the swelling ranks of athletes--from the National Football League to high school wrestlers--plagued by a new killer "superbug," a pernicious staph infection that mimics the flu, races through the body with lightning-quick speed, and resists normal penicillin-based antibiotics. Known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ), this bacterial infection first emerged in hospitals five years ago, attacking vulnerable postoperative patients with compromised immune systems. But in the past two years, MRSA has made its deadly presence known in the community at large, with athletes being a prime target, since the bacteria thrives in steamy settings like locker rooms and enters the body through nicks, abrasions, and cuts.
But it's not just athletes who are affected; a Fort Worth woman died in February from an infection suspected to be MRSA, which she contracted during a routine pedicure. But athletes constitute a high-risk category in which MRSA continues to show up in clusters, with disastrous consequences. In 2003 MRSA claimed the life of Ricky Lannetti, who played football for Lycoming College, in Pennsylvania, and sidelined ten football players at a Connecticut college, hospitalizing two. That same year, the infection attacked five members of the St. Louis Rams. In Texas serious outbreaks have been reported among football teams in Denton County, Pasadena, and South Texas, where an alarming 81 cases were reported in 2004.
Health care professionals--from the National Athletic Trainers' Association to the Texas Department of State Health Services--have begun campaigns to educate the public, and especially coaches and athletes, about how to prevent and detect the infection. "I almost don't go to a meeting anymore that it is not a topic on the agenda," says Allen Hardin, the co-director of sports medicine at the University of Texas, where the football team has gone to single-use disposable towels in its war to combat transmission of the infection. At the University Interscholastic League, which oversees public high school athletics, a medical advisory committee is developing a poster to place in locker rooms across the state, featuring pictures of an early-stage infection, which can look as harmless as a mosquito bite, and recommending tips for locker room cleanliness.
Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the state health department keeps statistics on how many cases have occurred in Texas or around the country, but one CDC study suggests that MRSA may occur in as many as 25 out of every 100,000 people. Anecdotal evidence is frightening: One Austin pediatric surgeon in a four-physician practice reported to me that she and her partners averaged ten surgeries per week to drain MRSA abscesses. Officials at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston, say that the incidences of MRSA have more than doubled since 2003, and the new bacteria now accounts for 77 percent of otherwise healthy patients with staph infections there. Since 2002, the hospital has lost six patients to MRSA, some of them infants. "This is not an athlete problem--it's a people problem," says Dr. Sheldon L. Kaplan, the chief of the hospital's infectious-disease clinic.
As Boone Baker's case illustrates, MRSA often starts out by disguising itself as an innocuous skin wound resembling a pimple or an ingrown hair. Immediately after the Westlake game, Boone showered and applied an antibiotic ointment to his shoulder burn and continued to do so all weekend. But after practice the following Monday, Boone noticed that the burn had become a purplish boil and showed it to a trainer, who directed him to see a doctor. The next day, his doctors lanced and drained the wound, cut out the pustule, took a culture, and identified the infection as MRSA. That called for a specific type of antibiotic, Septra, which, unlike penicillin-family drugs, can still knock out MRSA. Ten days later, Boone was cleared to return to football.
"I thought it was completely behind us," says Missy Baker, Boone's mom. When Boone fell ill with the flu this January, as did many other students at Austin High, the thought of a recurrence of MRSA, attacking his flu-weakened immune system, never entered her mind. Suffering nausea and a high fever, Boone lay on a couch for several days while Missy consulted his pediatrician's nurse by phone. Certain that Boone's lethargy was brought on by dehydration, Missy plied her son with Gatorades, but nothing about his condition made her panic.
Until Thursday, January 19. Early in the day, Boone complained of excruciating back pain. He rebounded, but soon the pain returned with scarier symptoms: fast and shallow breathing, neck pain, and a sudden inability to move his legs. Fearful that Boone had meningitis, Missy and her husband, Coalter, raced their son to an emergency room.
Life-threatening infections like Boone's could be avoided with some basic health precautions. Yet a CDC study released in February about the Rams' experience indicates that, even at the professional level, trainers have been slow to appreciate the risk of MRSA. On an average week, Rams players reported two to three "turf burns," severe abrasions where the skin is rubbed raw by high-velocity contact with artificial turf. Most of the burns were left uncovered during subsequent play. Trainers who treated the wounds on the sidelines did not have ready access to hand-washing or sanitizing materials. Players shared soap, towels, whirlpools, and workout equipment. The CDC study also determined that the infected players had a history of unusually high use of antibiotics, which could have made them more susceptible to the methicillin-resistant strain of staph. In fact, researchers believe that overuse of antibiotics in the community at large has enabled the new strain of bacteria to emerge. The CDC is advising schools that the best way to prevent MRSA is to disinfect common areas, like whirlpools and showers; stop the practice of sharing towels and soap; and encourage frequent hand washing. Players should see trainers about every abrasion, which should be cleaned and covered immediately.
If the prevention of MRSA is relatively simple, the treatment is anything but. When Boone arrived at Brackenridge Hospital, he was immediately placed in the intensive-care unit. For the first night, he was given fluids intravenously while awaiting the results of blood tests to determine whether he had MRSA. By the time the infection was confirmed as MRSA, two days later, the bacteria had erupted in pustules all over his body. Doctors ordered massive doses of antibiotics and waited for his system to respond. But it didn't. Something was blocking the antibiotics from taking effect. Boone's heart was racing at a rate that doctors compared to running a marathon at top speed. His midsection became bloated as his kidneys and liver began to fail. "He was dying, effectively," his dad recalls.
By this time, whole teams of doctors were standing at Boone's bedside. A decision was made to conduct a full-body MRI. After a torturous five-hour session (the MRI was halted several times when Boone's temperature spiked and sent him into uncontrollable chills), doctors found the source of his paralysis: two baseball-size abscesses around the base of his spine. On Monday, Boone underwent back surgery to drain and remove the abscesses and received another round of intensive antibiotics. He remained in the ICU, and doctors immediately began to see progress.
But Wednesday brought another scare: Upon removal of the breathing tube that had been placed down his throat during surgery, Boone said, "Mom, I can't see out of my right eye." Yet another specialist was called in, who confirmed that the MRSA was indeed attacking his eye. For the next couple days, Boone would need to be awakened every hour so a nurse could administer three types of antibiotic eyedrops.
On Super Bowl Sunday, seventeen days after he had arrived at the hospital, Boone was allowed to have visitors. A physical therapist helped him take his first painful steps with the aid of a walker. But Boone experienced another setback when it was discovered that he had some blood clots and that a small pustule on his lung had not responded to the antibiotics. More surgery would be needed.
While Boone had fought for his life in the hospital, his illness had become a statistic in one of the ongoing issues involving MRSA: whether artificial turf can cause the infection. This is a question that affects sports at all levels and can have a major economic impact on companies that produce artificial turf. The CDC, however, is not inclined to blame turf. In its study of the St. Louis Rams outbreak, testing of the turf did not turn up evidence of contamination. "We didn't really feel it was the main mechanism for transmission," says Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist for the CDC. Rather, Hageman said, researchers found a high incidence of infection among players with the most skin-to-skin contact.
But that has not stopped the MRSA scare from fueling the prolonged dispute between natural-turf and artificial-turf advocates. Brad Fresenburg, a University of Missouri turf grass expert, recently conducted studies of the temperature of his school's synthetic field and found an astonishing 173-degree temperature on a 98-degree day, a temperature disparity he believes contributes to bacterial proliferation. "Natural grass has a microbial system. It's self- cleaning," Fresenburg wrote. "These synthetic fields don't have that." He suggests that synthetic turf be sprayed with a disinfectant when an infection is suspected.
Advocates for synthetic fields disagree, noting that the new generation of turf contains ground automobile tires, which include sulfur and zinc, agents that kill bacteria. "There's no evidence to support the theory that synthetic turf breeds bacteria," says Andrew McNitt, an assistant professor of soil science at Penn State University. "The majority of the data shows that the fact that there are more abrasions means the athletes have more entry points for the bacteria to get in their bodies."
Yet the industry itself is concerned about the possibility of bacterial contamination. In November Astro Corporation unveiled a new product containing an antibacterial agent that it says will protect the turf from corrosion. Several companies have developed products to fight MRSA, including Cleveland-based Pioneer Manufacturing, which, in addition to making paint used to mark athletic fields, now sells an artificial-turf disinfectant called Titan Turf Gard. But the CDC's Hageman believes that the best way to prevent MRSA from spreading is for trainers to immediately treat and cover wounds like Boone's.
Boone's doctors don't know where the MRSA originated, though they believe it entered his body through the turf burn. Westlake trainer Brad Hawkins says he knows of no MRSA cases at the school, leading him to conclude that the School's artificial turf is not contaminated. But Westlake athletic director and head football coach Derek Long acknowledges that the school once scrubbed down its field following a staph outbreak (not of the MRSA variety), in 2003. The Bakers aren't interested in assigning blame but want parents, kids, and trainers to know what to watch for and how to avoid infections. Coalter is haunted by a doctor's comment that Boone would have died if he and Missy had waited another day to get him to the emergency room .
Shortly before Boone left the hospital, I took my son, Michael, who is a friend of Boone's, for a brief visit. Missy had prepared us to expect him to look like a prisoner of war. She wasn't exaggerating: He had lost 41 pounds. Finally, on February 14, more than three weeks after he had been rushed to the emergency room, Boone was cleared to go home, where he remained for a couple months, staying current on his schoolwork and taking his antibiotics intravenously. His vision has returned, but he can't return to playing sports until he finishes all his medicine--July at the earliest--and an orthopedic specialist determines that no bones have been compromised.
I dropped in to see him a few days after he got home, and though he had put on a few pounds, he still looked gaunt. He was sitting in a chair with an IV in his arm. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked him: "Will you play football again?" His answer was immediate. "Oh, sure," he said, as if nothing had ever happened.
Warning! Strong Content, May induce Vomit.
[No. 05] Picture This! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. February 16, 2008. What do vomit, spit, sweat and other human and animal discharge, and mold and bacterial growth look like in the fibers of artificial turf?Wonder no more!
Courtesy of http://sfparks.googlepages.com/silvtermrsa-- here is a pictorial presentation titled San Francisco Play Fields Poised To Infect.All photos were taken in 2008 at Silver Terrace Play Fields (San Francisco) and Garfield Soccer Field (San Francisco).