3G pitches in Holland ripped up after Cancer link safety fears

The parents of boys at the Ajax academy De Toekomst in Amsterdam received letters last week to reassure them that from now on, not only would their children not be playing on any of the club’s 3G pitches with rubber crumb infill, but those pitches were being removed.

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It was a swift response to the findings of a documentary on the Dutch public broadcaster NPO which revealed serious shortcomings in the government-sponsored research in 2006 that had declared the rubber crumb to be safe, thus beginning a 3G boom.

From 300 3G pitches in Holland 10 years ago there are now more than 2,000 of them, in a country where artificial turf and the 120 metric tonnes of rubber crumb used on each one – equating to 20,000 shredded tyres – is big business.

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So much so that six Eredivisie teams – Heracles, Sparta Rotterdam, Excelsior, Roda JC, Zwolle and ADO Den Haag – have 3G pitches at their home stadiums. Now, for the first time in Holland, there are major doubts on health grounds.

What is the strongest allegation against rubber crumb, those little black pellets you find in boots, socks and on skin after a game on 3G? It is that carcinogens in the rubber could be responsible for cancer – with children the most vulnerable of all.

In Holland, the minister for health, Edith Schippers, has ordered a new study of rubber crumb, and its potential threat, after the Zembla documentary discovered that the 2006 study by the Dutch public health institute RIVM was grossly inadequate. The toxicologist in question used a sample of just seven adult footballers at his local club, in a 2½-day study that paved the way for that huge growth in 3G rubber crumb pitches all over Holland.

The attitudes uncovered in Holland by Zembla have been shocking, to say the least. Last year the Dutch government was lobbied successfully by the artificial pitch and tyre industries not to apply new EU standards for toy safety to rubber crumb. The fear in Holland is that the legacy of rubber crumb 3G pitches will only be known years from now.

On Friday, the Fifa president Gianni Infantino urged an investigation into the carcinogenic properties of rubber crumb and said that, on balance, he would rather Fifa invested the $4 billion set aside for football development over the next 10 years on natural surfaces.

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What of England? At the end of this month, Martin Glenn, the Football Association chief executive, and Tracy Crouch, the minister for sport, will open in Sheffield the first of the much heralded “hubs” of 3G pitches that will be built in around 30 towns and cities. The initiative was launched by former FA chairman Greg Dyke to increase grassroots participation – but how safe are those grass roots?

The question relates to the kind of tyres or rubber products being recycled and the FA is unequivocal that its rubber crumb meets the European Union standards previously ignored in Holland. The Zembla investigation discovered that some of the rubber crumb used in pitches in Holland had come from rubber pipes used in the petrochemical industry. The question remains: how does anyone track the specific history of a mass recycled waste product?

Article credit The Telegraph Full story http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/10/15/why-3g-pitches-are-being-ripped-up-in-holland-over-health-fears/amp/

 

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This story refuses to go away, the concerns lie in the disagreement between experts. We hope for the benefit of everyone that a comprehensive review can be carried out to establish finally wether there is a link or not with cancer.