Study Links Astroturf to 6 MLB Players’ Cancer
Study finds chemicals in astroturf of former Philadelphia Phillies stadium.
Six retired Phillies ball players all died from the same rare cancer.
A Philadelphia Newspaper reporter working at the Philadelphia Inquirer got curious about the astroturf used for nearly 30 years at Veterans Stadium after 6 former players all died from the same rare, aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma before the age of 60.
The Inquirer purchased one of the squares of turf on Ebay in 2022 after the sixth player died. Sending the samples to two different labs for independent analysis, the reports found 16 different types of forever chemicals inside the artificial turf. Here, we’ll examine what’s known.
What Are Forever Chemicals?
Forever chemicals like perfluorinated compounds (PFC)/perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can stay in the human body for years because they break very slowly over time.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in consumer products around the world for close to 100 years. From cookware to clothing and cosmetics, you’ll find them just about everywhere. Many of the most potent forms of these chemicals have been phased out in the U.S., but unfortunately there are many countries that still rely on their use.
According to the American Cancer Society, these chemicals have been linked to tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands (breasts), and pancreas, as well as testicular, kidney, and thyroid cancer.
Did PFAS Cause MLB Players’ Cancer?
The six players who died all had the same brain cancer—glioblastoma. The Mayo Clinic describes this as a particularly dark form of cancer that grows quickly and has no cure. Symptoms include pounding headaches that continue to get worse, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and seizures.
Moreover, per various news outlets, of the 532 Philadelphia players who played at the stadium between 1971 to 2003, there are 3X more cases of brain cancer compared to the average rate for adult men.
As investigations continue, Astro Turf manufacturer, Monsanto, will face a wave of scrutiny for what they have known. In past cases, such as the now infamous Roundup class action lawsuits, Monsanto was found to have known for years that the glyphosate they use in Roundup causes cancer. Time and again we’ve seen that when a company puts profits over people, the consumer suffers.
Will PFAS Be Banned?
The city of Philadelphia has sued several chemical manufacturers over PFAS contamination in the municipal water supply. The city also put limits on several of these chemicals in drinking water systems which creates additional accountability. Because so many household products contain them, a CDC study found PFAS in the blood of 97% of Americans. That means exposure to these dangerous cancer-causing chemicals is almost certain.
In 2023, the state of California became one of the first states to ban the sale of nondurable food packing that contains PFAS chemicals; others include Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington. California is also looking to ban forever chemicals in apparel and textile products by 2025.
The U.S. Navy also sees a critical risk in the exposure of PFC/PFAS. The service branch has even created an entire strategy to protect Navy personnel from PFAS exposure. In a policy statement, the Secretary of the Navy was blunt. The text outlined the danger is real and currently there are no definitive medical procedures that can clear PFAS from the body. The best idea is to remove or limit exposure.
Are Artificial Turf Fields Safe?
Artificial turf fields have been popular long-term investments for schools, sports leagues, and professional organizations alike. Playgrounds, soccer fields, and even residential landscaping has heavily relied on turf as a cost-effective and long-term solution over maintaining actual grass.
The root of the issue lies in the chemicals used to make the grass and the “dirt” infill which is typically rubber. A 2019 National Institute of Health study found an array of dangerous chemicals inside artificial turf, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including known carcinogens like benzopyrenes and phthalates.
A Georgia State University study found that the tiny particles from the turf fields can even be suspended in the air and breathed during competition.
In 2009, the Attorney General of California announced a settlement with Astro Turf to strictly limit the amount of lead in the product. The next year another settlement would require the two largest artificial turf manufacturers and installers to also ensure their products were lead-free.
The settlements have increased the level of scrutiny for what’s being used in artificial turf, and most manufacturers are quick to comply. However, the risk that some fields still contain PFAS, lead, or other alarming substances cannot be overlooked.
What Can You Do to Limit Exposure to PFAS Chemicals?
According to the EPA, there are several meaningful and achievable steps you can take to reduce the health risks from exposure to PFAS.
- Look at your drinking water. Contact your municipal water supply and ask for printed information on PFAS levels. Compare these to the safe levels of certain PFAS posted on the EPA website.
- Consider a whole-home water filtration system. Whole-house filtration systems will treat all of the connections in your home’s waterline like faucets, showers, and sinks.
- Well water should always be tested. If you draw your water from a well, you should always have it tested regularly.
- Steer clear of contaminated fish and shellfish.
- Avoid products that contain PFAS. A complete list can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
The best offense is a good defense with PFAS and other unsafe chemicals. As much as possible, consider products with “eco-friendly” labels as they usually contain less harsh ingredients.
What If You Develop Cancer from Using a Product?
Whether it’s a train wreck and botched clean up that dumps PVC chemicals across an Ohio town or a product like Roundup that causes widespread cancer, our team has never shied away from the truth. Telling our clients’ side when big corporations or insurance companies try to downplay the situation is what we do best. If you’re hurt after using a product, we have an entire team of defective product attorneys that know the nuances of this side of the law well. If it was a car accident or other injury, we have lawyers that can help there too.
You can call us at any time of the day or night and we’ll be here to listen to everything you’ve been through. While we can’t always take a case, we’ll at least let you know where you stand so you can move forward.
You may have noticed that Farah and Farah is not a news agency. Rather, we are a seasoned group of personal injury attorneys and many other legal professionals all working together to help make injured people whole again. We present current events like the dangers found in artificial turf to explore the facts available at the time of publication from a legal perspective. To do that and still be timely, we rely on what’s known when a post goes live. That means, sometimes information can change as the investigation continues. Our sole intent is to educate and empower the general public with knowledge should they ever find themselves in a similar situation.