OLYMPIA, Wash. - Health officials in Washington state say there's no indication synthetic turf playfields made of recycled rubber cause cancer in young people.
The Department of Health issued a report Wednesday that said if the crumb-rubber fields did so, there would be a lot more ill soccer players in Washington.
"Based on the information we have today, if people are enjoying playing soccer, no matter what kind of field it is, we think that they should continue," said Lauren Jenks, director of the Office of Environmental Public Health Sciences for the Washington Dept. of Health.
A University of Washington women's soccer coach, Amy Griffin, raised concerns after learning of several goalies who developed blood cancers. She eventually compiled a list of 53 soccer players who had developed cancer since the mid-1990s.
"Goalkeepers spend most of their time on the ground. I can remember times I had turf in my eyes, turf in my cuts," said Jorden Alerding, a former UW goalkeeper who is a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Alerding and other players disputed the state findings, Wednesday, saying the investigation didn't dig deep enough and relied on oversimplified methods of comparing data.
"It's essentially telling people that its been looked into and its ok, when it’s not. It's not enough, we need more, and we need the public to understand that," Alerding said.
The state investigation suggested soccer players actually get cancer less than the general population. Dr. Cathy Wasserman, a state epidemiologist, says if people are worried about exposure to carcinogenic chemicals from the rubber pellets, they can wash their hands or shower after playing.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency are also studying the fields' safety.
The Associated Press contributed.