Peter Hayes, Bloomberg BNA, October 28, 2016


Griffin began to suspect the fields were to blame. More specifically, crumb rubber—the tiny black dots on artificial turf playing fields made from recycled tires—also known as “tire crumb.”

Goalies spend a lot of time on the ground.

“During a practice, they hit the ground more than 100 times easily and are covered in those black dots,” she said.

“I remember sitting on a plane, surfing the web, looking at the components of field turf,” Griffin said. That took her to a list of carcinogens, including heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds.

Griffin began compiling a list of athletes with cancer. It now totals 230, including 183 soccer players—of those, 114 are goalkeepers. The balance play field hockey, lacrosse or football.

“At this point, we see indicia, which we always see before there’s adequate proof of causation,” plaintiff's attorney Ted Tredennick with Daniels & Tredennick in Houston told Bloomberg BNA.

“We see clusters of people getting the same type of disease with the only common link being exposure to these fields,” he said. “This comes before the science establishes causal links.”

“We’ve done a lot of mass torts,” said Tredennick. “I would identify this as a potential mass tort and we are trying to get ahead of it.”

An attorney with one of the country's most well-known plaintiffs' firms, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco, is also keeping his eyes on the science.

“It takes science some time to develop to the point where it satisfies legal causation,” plaintiffs' attorney Tredennick said. “That’s in progress.”

“Do I think we can prove a link now? It depends on the individual case, but I do believe it’s possible,” he said. “But five or six years from now I’m very confident we will be able to.”