“LET THEM EAT RUBBER CRUMBS”!
Public Health Warning to Liverpool City Council
By Carlee Graham
Where there is any possible threat to the health of our children by contact, inhalation or ingestion of carcinogenic ‘rubber crumb’ in 3G football pitches, we expect a ‘duty of care’ by the residing, elected Liverpool City Council and its Planning Committee.
This is an urgent message to all parents and a request that we ALL take seriously the health threat of 3G pitches and the chemical soup of carcinogens they bring into our natural and historically conserved and treasured South Liverpool Greenspace. Why have families not been informed and given the choice concerning the unnecessary risks forcing children to train upon plastic and used industrial tyres, described as;
“too toxic for landfill”?
We all want the best for our children. Life outdoors, opportunities, healthy pursuits, sports and the culture that runs through our city’s veins, football is the dream, ‘but’ at what cost on 3G? Hallowed footie, in all its glory, is a massive part of the culture and passion of Liverpool. Football is in our blood, but a serious problem has been unearthed that affects every child and young athlete that may tread the 3G pitches of our modern times. This sinister and rapidly expanding potential danger in 3G and lethal ‘crumb rubber’ must be challenged at grass roots as opposed to be endorsed as ‘Grassroots’. It is sadly ironic that this very term has been used to describe The FA’s Hubs project which intends to cover grassland with artificial and HIGHLY controversial TOXIC ‘RUBBER CRUMB’.
3G an ambiguous and seemingly innocent ‘catch’ phrase for artificial pitches, which increasingly cover our natural landscape and grasslands, contain a lethal plethora of substances purported by eminent researchers to be linked with development of cancers in young people, such as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Dr Philip Landrigan, an expert in this field, in Mount Sinai Hospital states,
“children are particularly ‘at risk’ due to the fact that their physiology is still in the developmental stage”.
Being small children are more susceptible to inhaling or ingesting toxic particulates and fumes which rise three or four feet above the artificial turf bringing ‘on pitch’ temperatures to 130 degrees in warm weather. Merely by being closer to the ground that holds the black pellets of crushed industrial waste tyres, puts children at greater risk. Tyres since 2006 have been declared by our Health Executive as being “too toxic for landfill”. In 2006 tyres and rubber crumb, being ‘hazardous waste’ could not be used for landfill hence other recycling methods were employed. Since then, rubber crumb has been continuously used for playgrounds and football pitches across the UK .There are 50% more pitches in 2016 since 2006 with another 500 planned by 2020. Rubber crumb was ‘excluded’ from the Consumer Act for Children’s play objects after aggressive lobbying by interested multi corporates and other associations. All of the compounds and chemicals contained within rubber crumb are listed on the Health High Alert Warning for Chemicals Dangerous to Children. So we can see, chronologically a pattern emerges in 2006. Rubber crumb is not regulated, 3G pitches are not regulated and children’s rubber play areas are not regulated.
Alarmingly also since 2006 Hodgkins Lymphoma, and other childhood cancers have dramatically increased by 20%. [Cancer Research]. How, then was it ever decided, by any right minded authorities and without public consultation and information, that this poisonous waste should be deposited on areas for our unaware and eager young athletes in the name of it being “healthy” and “recreational” ? Rubber crumb is not regulated and has never been, except as supposedly self regulating by the multi-national companies that produce it. The FA is on record as saying “it is safe”.
‘Crumb rubber’ as it is known in the USA, containing carcinogens such a lead, cadmium, benzene, arsenic, mercury, zinc and the list goes on and on of over 140 substances which fill these pitches for added bounce and performance, is currently being rejected by communities across several states. With a 7 year ‘life end’ cycle [?], during which time these pitches erode and breakdown releasing a toxic mix, these pitches then regain their classification as ‘hazardous waste’. At this point these artificial pitches require a ‘hazardous waste removal’ process to remove them at a high cost to the local council tax payer, leaving behind land that has been polluted by chemicals such as Carbon Black, a scientifically proven potent carcinogenic. By this time, of course, our children will have played on top of toxic waste for most of their young lives.
It is not simply a matter of environmental degradation and contamination as cases of cancer increase inordinately. Mount Sinai hosts some of the American football victims of Lymphoma.
“You are a goal keeper and the 4th I have hooked up this week”. [nurse at Mount Sinai]
This ‘off the cuff’ comment triggered a realisation and alerted ex soccer star, Amy Griffin of the possible health hazards associated with 3G, which all of her peers and fellow players had trained upon. She had two friends suffering Lymphoma. Griffin has since been compiling a list of young cancer victims and users of 3G pitches. At the end of 2016, this list of young sufferers is to be examined and considered under the ‘epidemic status’ category in comparison with normal population groups. Of the growing list of 158 soccer players with Lymphoma on her current list, 101 are goal keepers, who hit the ground more frequently. When visiting one of her goal keepers suffering lymphoma at hospital, the nurse commented on record, “you are a goal keeper and the 4th I have hooked up this week”. She was referring to being hooked up for chemotherapy. Julie Foudy, another ex soccer star has since presented a televised documentary which every parent should watch. This is the footage the FA and local councils, DEFRA and the Environmental Agency would prefer us not to see. It raises serious questions concerning 3G and the new FA backed national Hubs ‘Grassroots’ project.
Our South Liverpool campaign group urges families to research 3G. Do we really want our children playing and training on compounds considered too toxic for landfill? New York and many states across the USA have banned 3G. Many Scandavian countries including Norway and Sweden have also banned 3G. In the UK an ex CEO of the NHS Nigel Maguire, whose 18 year old son developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, has linked his son’s illness to 3G and has been lobbying for support for research and government intervention. It seems the present government has endorsed 3G as opposed acting on the side of caution for the youth of the nation. Maguire went to press in February of 2016. [The Telegraph Feb 16th] Nothing has been done in parliament to date.
Amongst a litany of once healthy young athletes, many who have since died, there was a young female goal keeper from Miami. Her mother has raised grave concerns concerning 3G with Congress. Many parents are being silenced in this multi-million dollar industry in used tyres. Liverpool and Everton player Gary Ablett died at 43 with Lymphoma. Gary, who played for both Everton and Liverpool, coached on 3G and his wife is left convinced that her husband’s early death is connected with 3G. The facts, constantly mounting, are giving rise to a swell of anxiety about what many right minded people consider an unnecessary, dirty and costly toxic installation. It is now being viewed by many as too dangerous, but not our own city planners.
The question has to be asked can we take the 3G risk with our children’s health? What is wrong with grass pitches? They pose no health risks, they keep green space green and when it comes down to the final analysis, who is prepared to be accountable? Who will be culpable for 3G when further evidence and cases emerge? It is our children who may be paying the penalties.
Up and down the country our young hopefuls, unless armed with ‘informed knowledge’, will continue to train and play on ‘crumb rubber’. When toxic substances, including acetone, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, tetrachloroethene [and the list goes on], are being ingested, and abrasions are being contaminated with black rubber pellets, is it moral that the real reasons for 3G are secretly economic and political rather than altruistic?
The Chemicals and Compounds of High Concern in Children’s Health lists all the carcinogens in rubber crumb, including Styrene and Butadiene. Styrene and Butadiene, Doctor Philip Landrigan [MD MSc Mount Sinai Hospital New York], states that both of these substances are;
“proven human carcinogens that cause leukemia and lymphoma.”
Shockingly, after aggressive lobbying by interested corporate associations, the Consumer Act for Children’s play products and recreational objects excludes play areas and football pitches which contain rubber crumb. Rubber crumb contains all of the listed hazardous chemicals of High Concern. [Steven Gilbert Toxepedia Feb 29th 2026]
Whilst profit resides over providence, families are being kept in the ‘carbon black’ dark.
The current council plans for 3G Hubs include our Green Wedge in South Liverpool, the Simpson’s Ground and Jericho Lane at Otterspool, which are to be swathed in plastic and rubber crumb in place of natural long established grasslands. There will be significant ecological impacts that haven’t even been mitigated for by the Council. There lies a double jeopardy in that whilst our young people are put at risk on toxic tyres, our ‘Greenfield’ space is being contaminated and turned into ‘Brownfield’. This nature within this very toxic process is lost forever. How can either of these ill thought out policies and actions be good for our kids? When being endorsed and presented as “healthy recreational pursuits”, how can we trust such a deliberate misrepresentation? The FA and 3G pitches only serve the massive benefits of the multi-corporate machine. Our council planners have seriously overlooked the wider implications and long term impacts both upon the natural environment and the health of our young athletes and footballers. Dr. Landrigan states” natural grass is always the best option”. Why did plastic and rubber become the preferred option for big business? They had to find a place for toxic waste.
At a recent City Council Planning meeting concerning Simpson’s Ground, concerns about 3G were raised by Green Part councillor Lawrence Brown and other campaign members, and met with a level of negative hostility from the planning committee and advocates of 3G in response to legitimate, factual and logical questions. None of the serious questions raised were answered to any degree of satisfaction and it became instantly clear that there is an aggressive economic and political push for 3G by leading City Officials and the FA. The Hub project has many cities, like Liverpool, in a greedy grasp. This project is deeply political and irresponsible with our children’s welfare and our natural green spaces.
We are calling for a moratorium and Awareness Campaign to inform and educate local families on the potential long term health hazards posed by 3G. We, as a responsible community, are making a political call to return to grass pitches. Acting as linesmen on our pitches for those in our care we must avoid with vigour any potential risks.
The FIFA President Gianni Infantino urged an investigation into the carcinogenic properties of ‘rubber crumb’ stating in The Guardian;
“On balance I would rather FIFA invested the 4 billion set aside for football development over the next ten years to be on NATURAL SURFACES.” By this he refers to Grass.
If 3G goes ahead in the ‘so called’ Liverpool Hub, in seven years time, these controversial pitches will have to be removed and the costly process of taking out this ‘toxic hazardous waste’ will go to the Council Tax payer to the tune of hundreds of thousands, for an unhealthy, unnecessary facility that no right thinking ‘informed’ person wanted in the first place. To be blunt as a local female Everton rising star stated recently “WE WANT TO PLAY ON GRASS”.