Father wants 3G pitch review after 'links' to son's cancer

3G Pitch
There are 500 3G pitches in England, which are used by 11 professional teams in Scotland

A former NHS boss wants the government to review the use of 3G pitches after claiming rubber pellets on the surface contributed to his son's cancer.

Nigel Maguire from Darlington says son Lewis, 18, has Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to the 'crumb rubber' on the surface which gives it more bounce.

Pellets, often made from used car tyres, can contain toxic chemicals.

The Football Association says there are 500 3G pitches in England and added it was "aware of concerns".

An FA spokesperson said it would continue to "monitor industry research" but it is understood the governing body is comfortable with current health guidelines.

What is a 3G pitch?
The FA says it is "a blend of grass-like fibres attached to a special backing with a mix of sand and/or rubber brushed in."

The surfaces have been widely introduced in the UK because they can be used continuously in bad weather, avoiding postponements throughout winter, particularly at grassroots level.

The pitches are also used by 12 of 42 clubs in the top four leagues in Scottish football, two Premiership rugby union teams and rugby league team Widnes Vikings, who also share the pitch with Women's Super League teams Liverpool Ladies and Everton Ladies.

The Sports and Play Construction Association, which is the UK trade organisation for the sports and play facility construction industry, said there were "numerous research studies carried out worldwide" and "the current consensus is that the rubber crumb poses no significant health risk".

Nigel Maguire and his son Lewis
Nigel Maguire from Darlington and his son Lewis

But after claiming that a $2m (£1.38m) review had begun in the United States, Maguire, a former chief executive of NHS Cumbria, says he wants a similar level of testing in the UK and believes football authorities should stop building 3G pitches until proper research had been carried out.

He says that as a goalkeeper, his son was more exposed to the rubber crumb than outfield players, and had similar concerns for rugby players.

"Lewis would be training on this stuff once or twice a week for four or five years, and he would come back telling me how he swallowed a lot of it, how it got into his eyes, and in cuts and grazes," Maguire from Darlington told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I didn't think anything of it, one wouldn't, would you? You'd think if something that was licensed to be put on turf it would be thoroughly researched. The reality is that it hasn't.

"The industry turns around and categorically says that it's perfectly fine. They've done the research, 'we have tested it for emissions for any gasses that come off it and there are none'. That's fine, however, there is no research that I can find and I've scanned and scanned that says actually if you ingest this, if you rub this stuff into your wounds that contain these known carcinogens, there is no effect.

"I'm asking for similar review to be undertaken by our government to look at the available evidence, to commission research and look at the health impact."

Who uses 3G pitches?
Football: Hamilton Academical, Kilmarnock, Alloa Athletic, Falkirk, Queen of the South, Airdrieonians, Forfar Athletic, Stenhousemuir, Annan Athletic, Clyde, East Stirlingshire, Montrose; Liverpool Ladies, Everton Ladies
Rugby Union: Saracens, Newcastle Falcons
Rugby League: Widnes Vikings

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