Are artificial 3G football pitches dangerous?

fa

Has the FA done enough to ensure that its new artifical pitches are safe?

I  have written to the Mayor of Liverpool asking him to suspend the installation of artificial 3G football pitches that the Council is planning to install in 4 new football hubs in partnership with the FA.

In my letter I point out that there is clear concern in both the USA and Holland about the nature of the product. The pitches are made from reused rubber which is shredded and crumbed and it is impossible to track where the rubber comes from which means that there is a possibility that much of the rubber comes from industrial plant. Each pitch needs 120 metric tons of the product which is the equivalent of 20,000 used tyres.

In my letter Cllr Kemp makes 2 suggestions to the Mayor,”

“I believe that the Council should adopt the precautionary principle being adopted by the Dutch Government and EU. That means that no more pitches should be installed pending the reviews being made by the EU (and Dutch Government). In this case it would mean that the 4 football hubs would proceed without the 3G pitches.

If you are not prepared to do this I believe that the Council should, as a precautionary measure arrange for random chemical tests to be done for potential carcinogens on the product as it is installed and a guarantee that similar tests should be done on all product which is used to repair the pitches which regularly wear out and need replacement”.

There is another possibility that the surfaces could be created using a different but more expensive product which would cost £17,000 more per pitch – a budget increase across the 4 hubs of just £204,000. This is a relatively small increase in the budget of about £16 million for the programme

The full text of the letter is appended:

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

16, Dovedale Road,

Liverpool L18 1DW

07885 626913

richard.kemp@liverpool.gov.uk

 

Joe Anderson,

Mayor of Liverpool

By E-mail

17th October 2016

Dear Joe,

Re:       3G football pitches on the 4 Football Hubs

You may be aware that at the planning committee last Tuesday a number of objections to the two football hub applications were made on the basis of the potential danger of the nature of the composition of the 3G surfaces. For your information each pitch needs to have 120 metric tonnes of rubber crumb surface equivalent to 20,000 shredded tyres which is the major but not sole source of such ‘crumb’.

Of course the composition of the pitches is not, of itself, a planning matter so in many ways the objections at that stage were irrelevant. However since that time I have researched the matter and am writing to you to express my concern at what I have found. You, of course, can deal with this issue as the owner of the land and as the leading player within the joint company established with the Football Association.

It is clear that these surfaces can be dangerous. There has been much documentation of skin injuries caused by trips and falls on this type if surface but there is now a clear potential link to skin and other concerns caused by the composition of the surface based on the origins of the rubber and other products which make it up.

Research in the United States has shown that some cancers have been caused to some players who use the pitches regularly.

In Holland the Dutch Government has ordered an immediate investigation of these claims. Some clubs have already suspended their use of these pitches and 30 have begun the removal of the surface to be replaced with a conventional natural grass pitch. The Dutch FA have also agreed that further investigation needs to be made about where in the body substances used in the pitches can end up with the body.

The Europe Union has also ordered an immediate investigation of the claims. Clear advice has been given in Holland not to install these pitches until a full investigation is made. The FA in this Country claim that the product is safe but there are suggestions that a boy who played at both the Leeds and Darlington Academies has developed Hodgkins Lymphoma as a result of his exposure to the product. There is, of course, no way that the council or FA can track the original origin of the shred product.

In these circumstances I believe that the Council should adopt the precautionary principle being adopted by the Dutch Government and EU. That means that no more pitches should be installed pending the reviews being made by the EU (and Dutch Government). In this case it would mean that the 4 football hubs would proceed without the 3G pitches.

If you are not prepared to do this I believe that the Council should, as a precautionary measure arrange for random chemical tests to be done for potential carcinogens on the product as it is installed and a guarantee that similar tests should be done on all product which is used to repair the pitches which regularly wear out and need replacement.

I hope that you will agree with me that the health of our children, young people and local residents should not be put at risk by the use of a product against which there are clear health question marks. Carry on with the football hubs if you wish but do so in way which improves their health and does not detract from it.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. . Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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2 Responses to Are artificial 3G football pitches dangerous?

  1. Paul Slater says:

    Natural surfaces (which can have very efficient drainage provided, and can also be floodlit) would be far better. The present proposals will see large areas of land have the vegetation stripped from them, the invertebrate life destroyed (some of these fields contain huge numbers of Earthworms which provide food for numerous animals, mainly birds such as Starlings, Mistle Thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares) and the ground sterilised.
    From an ecological point of view, the sites may as well have shopping centres, factories or housing placed upon them. In terms of biodiversity, all of the latter would actually be preferable, as there would be some landscaping and therefore vegetation provided. Two of the sites in question (Jericho Lane playing fields and the Simpson Ground) are within Green Wedges, and are supposed to be part of Liverpool’s Green Infrastructure. The urbanising of these sites, should these plans go ahead, will mean that they can no longer be considered part of Liverpool’s Green Infrastructure.
    The plans will also result in a net loss of biodiversity, counter to the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework (2012). It is very unfortunate, that the City Council have again not given adequate consideration to the implications for wildlife of these developments. The ecology reports accompanying the planning applications were flawed, mis-leading and totally inadequate, with regards to the effects that these artificial-surface pitches will have upon wildlife in the area.

  2. Simon Govus says:

    I have been writing to the F.A regarding this and many other issues that affect grassroots football for the last 5 years. I have had one response to a very long e-mail consisting of two sentences that gave me a list of coaching courses in my area.

    I have constantly campaigned against the installation of these artificial pitches. They are too expensive to install and i can say with complete confidence that my players, suffer more injuries on them, than playing on a well maintained grass pitch. One of my players who is a committed tackler, does not leave the pitch without a severe cut. He had to go to the doctors when one of these cuts became infected, leaving his knee weeping with pus constantly and struggling to walk.

    The Dutch documentary and the growing evidence in the U.S that the use of these pitches can cause life threatening illnesses, should have provoked immediate nationwide suspension of the building of them, Instead the response is quotes from medical studies. Now this is all well and good but the documentary highlights how shambolic some of these studies are.

    In my town, we have a few of these pitches, mainly in local schools. Our council installed one at the cost of £650k. In my opinion, the quality of these pitches rapidly decline due to them being under maintained. The artificial grass strands flatten out quickly and they become glorified astro turf pitches with millions of flecks of rubber tyre on them. The ironic or funny thing about this £650k .pitch installation is that to use this super dooper pitch, the players get changed in changing facilities that were built in the 1970’s and were temporarily shut down due to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease, just over ten years ago. I find it astonishing that with that £650k, the facilities and the grass pitches at this venue could have been drastically improved to benefit more players and clubs than this one artificial pitch.

    This brings me onto my next point regarding the building policy of these artificial pitches. I see the word ‘community’ constantly banded about when they are built. In my experience only a few clubs get to use them. The council will hire them out during the week to some five and six a side leagues. Thats great, no complaints from me on that. The rest of the time though it seems that only one or two clubs gain access to use them. In my area, Chelmsford City and their youth set up seem to get sole use of the artificial pitch, especially on match days. Now that really isn’t ‘community’ is it? It is more like ‘monopoly.’ I do not blame Chelmsford City or their youth set up. No other club can commit to use these pitches due to cost of hiring them.

    When Greg Dyke announced his vision for the building of football hubs across the country i was horrified. Here we are in a climate where especially in adult mens football (which the F.A ignore because it is politically correct to do so) teams are folding at an alarming rate due to costs, Mr Dyke decides to spend a massive amount of money on a policy that benefits very few of the percentage of people involved in grassroots football. Then again, this is a man who complains about football committees being filled with ‘old white men.’ whilst his grassroots football commission contained no-one from grassroots football. Glasshouses, stones and all that Greg! So a multi million pound policy was decided by dinosaurs and the ignorant.

    However, Greg Dyke was only the head of an ignorant organisation that is disconnected from its grassroots volunteer base. I would like Mr.Dyke and his successor to come and meet the two players that bought our new kits this season and explain his policy. Or maybe they could come with me for a season whilst i provide a taxi service for my players or maybe he could wash the kit for a season and scoop mud out of the washing machine after use. Then maybe just maybe they may understand my outrage at them wasting so much money on these pitches that benefit only the clubs that can afford to use them. Maybe the F.A might understand the discontent from volunteers at advertising coaching courses at ‘just’ £5 per hour. The money waste on these pitches could be spent so much more prudently and benefit so many more people.

    Lastly, The F.A rely on generic questionnaires with loaded questions to their already established theories on grassroots football deterioration. When they hold forums that are only open to Charter Standard clubs and ignore the views and the plight of the clubs that are struggling the most, then we will continue to see grassroots football and especially mens football die. You will receive no help whatsoever from the regional or national F.A if you want to run a fun team. You know a fun team that used to be based from a pub with a group of mates playing football. These teams are almost gone. I think the F.A are pleased with this because they ignore these teams whilst funding and providing ongoing support to only those who are Charter Standard or above. Maybe the F.A should read through their diversity and equality policy.

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