Artificial turf likely not the link to deaths of six baseball players

Baseball players died of brain cancer/Shutterstock Images

Six former Philadelphia baseball players have died of glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. The Philadelphia Inquirer launched an investigation which is raising questions about whether turf at the old Philadelphia Phillies stadium contributed to the deaths.

Philadelphia Inquirer report published this week, the newspaper said it began looking into the artificial turf at Veterans Stadium, the former home of the Phillies, after former players David West, Ken Brett, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich, Johnny Oates and Darren Daulton all developed and died from glioblastoma, a deadly and rare form of brain cancer.

“The rate of brain cancer among Phillies who played at the Vet between 1971 and 2003 is about three times the average rate among adult men,” the newspaper wrote.

As part of their reporting, the Inquirer bought pieces of the Veterans Stadium artificial turf for sale on eBay, and found it contained “16 different types of PFAS, or per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances,” which are known to cause “Adverse health effects.”

“Once PFAS gets into [a person’s] blood, they circulate through all the organs,” Graham Peaslee, a physicist at the University of Notre Dame, told the Inquirer. The investigation continued.

“The Phillies consulted with leading experts in the causes of brain cancer, notably Dr. Kyle Walsh, Director of the Division of Neuro-Epidemiology at Duke University Medical Center and Dr. John Boockvar, Director of the Brain Tumor Center at the Lenox Hill Hospital, to understand the current scientific research in this area,” the team said.

“Both doctors advised us that there is no evidence of a causal link between artificial turf and brain cancer, including glioblastoma, and that any suggested connection between PFAS and glioblastoma is unproven,” they added. “We eagerly await the day when therapies are discovered to cure or curtail brain cancer and all other forms of cancer.”

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