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Dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ found in old samples of turf from Phillies’ Veterans Stadium

After a sixth ex-Phillies player died of brain cancer last year, a study of the artificial turf the team used to play on has found it contained highly dangerous chemicals.

The Phillies played on artificial turf at Veterans Stadium from 1971-2003, and the death of pitcher David West last year continued a worrying trend.

Now there’s evidence that the surface was contaminated with “forever chemicals — which, according to the EPA, “cause adverse health effects that can devastate families” — after the Philadelphia investigator have the turf tested.

After the publication purchased souvenir samples of turf used from 1977-1981 on Ebay, tests conducted by Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental Testing on two samples revealed that the turf contained 16 different types of PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame also found PFAS in two other samples.

David West’s death from brain cancer last year sparked an investigation into the trend

The Philadelphia Inquirer purchased souvenir samples of Veterans Stadium turf for the study

The Philadelphia Inquirer purchased souvenir samples of Veterans Stadium turf for the study

According to the Inquirer, “The rate of brain cancer among Phillies who played with the Vet between 1971 and 2003 is about three times the average among adult males.”

Besides West, five ex-Phillies have died of brain cancer: Ken Brett (2003), Tug McGraw (2004), Johnny Oates (2004), John Vukovich (2007), and Darren Daulton (2017).

“It’s a cluster and it needs to be investigated,” said Dr. Fox News medical officer Marc Siegel during a network segment last year — four days after former pitcher West died of brain cancer at age 57.

“The incidence of fatal brain cancer is about three in 100,000,” Siegel continued. “This is three or four times as much or more.”

His numbers differ slightly from those of the National Cancer Institute, which says that 4.4 people die from cancer of the brain or other nervous systems for every 100,000 Americans, according to data from 2015 to 2019.

In 2019, approximately 175,000 Americans were living with cancer of the brain or other nervous system, according to the NCI.

“We don’t have a good idea of ​​the amount actually ingested, or what amount of exposure is relevant to cancer risk,” said Timothy Rebbeck, an epidemiologist who studies the causes of cancer at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. and a professor of medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said of the Inquirer’s findings.

“We’ll never get a good picture of what the Phillies players were exposed to.”

Tug McGraw was one of baseball's top relief pitchers for 19 seasons with the New York Mets and Phillies, and is also known as the father of country music singer Tim McGraw

Darren Daulton, a power-hitting catcher, helped push Philadelphia to a National League crown in 1993 and later won a World Series as a member of the Florida Marlins in 1997

Tug McGraw (left) and Darren Daulton both died of brain cancer after playing in Philly

The Phillies played at Veterans Stadium on artificial turf from 1971-2003

The Phillies played at Veterans Stadium on artificial turf from 1971-2003

Once a top prospect, Ken Brett had a solid pitching career and was named to the All-Star in 1974 while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates after his lone season in Philadelphia.

David West, who died earlier this month, spent four seasons as a pitcher for the Phillies and was an important successor in the club's pennant series in 1993

Ken Brett (left) died in 2003, while David West (right) died sixth last year

Johnny Oates

Former Phillies infielder John Vukovich

Johnny Oates (L) and John Vukovich (R) died of brain cancer in 2004 and 2007 respectively

Aside from certain cancers, the chemicals are also linked to reduced fertility and immunity to fight off infections, as well as an increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease, according to the report.

In a statement, the Phillies said they “share the frustration and grief of losing six members of our baseball family to brain cancer.”

The team told The Inquirer that it consulted several brain cancer experts who told them there is no evidence of a link between artificial turf and the disease.

One of those experts was Kyle Walsh, an associate professor of neurosurgery and pathology at Duke University.

“If six Phillies develop a glioblastoma, on the face of it, it seems higher than you would expect,” Walsh said. “But it’s also within that key demographic of who you’d expect to develop it.”

The report noted that non-Hispanic white men between the ages of 40 and 70 are the most likely victims of the disease, while Walsh said he did not believe PFAS could be a leading cause of brain cancer.

The synthetic turf industry also insisted that its products were safe. “The materials used in synthetic turf have been thoroughly reviewed by both federal and state government agencies and are considered harmless,” Melanie Taylor, the president and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, told The Inquirer.

“In the future, our members will continue to pay close attention to changing regulations and standards to ensure the highest safety of our products.”

However in one Study January 2023 published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, Chinese researchers found that ‘exposure to PFAS could increase the chance of developing a glioma’.

Siegel also suggested last year that players may have been exposed to high-frequency microwaves from the radar guns used to measure the speed of throws.

Dr.  Marc Siegel suggested that players may have been exposed to high-frequency microwaves from the radar guns

Dr. Marc Siegel suggested that players may have been exposed to high-frequency microwaves from the radar guns

“The military has been researching microwaves given at a very high frequency and a lot of exposure,” Siegel said, reminding the audience that five of the six players who died were pitchers or catchers, putting them directly in the crosshairs of radar guns. were placed.

“You get hundreds of incidents where the radar gun is used during a game. I’m not saying it is … but they should look more at the radar gun.’

According to the American Cancer Society, radiofrequency radiation is not believed to cause cancer, but the organization says that “concerns remain that some forms of non-ionizing radiation may still have other effects on cells under certain circumstances that may in one way or another otherwise cause cancer. ‘

Radar weapons are ubiquitous at all levels of baseball and were never exclusive to Veterans Stadium.

Larry Bowa was the Phillies’ shortstop in 1980, and for the team’s first decade at the vet. He was close to both Vukovich and McGraw.

“To get that disease at such a young age, you kind of scratch your head, ‘there could be something going on,'” said Bowa, now 77, and a Phillies senior adviser.