Toxic PFAS Chemicals Discovered in Turf where Six Baseball Players Died of Brain Cancer

An investigation into the deaths of six former Philadelphia Phillies players from the same type of brain cancer has found that the artificial turf where they played for years contains dangerous PFAS compounds commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.”

All players died of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The tumor is most common among white males, between the ages of 40 and 70.


Following the deaths of six Philadelphia Phillies players from the same type of brain cancer, investigative reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer purchased pieces of the AstroTurf available for sale online to have them tested for chemicals. The artificial turf was used for years and replaced several times at Veterans Stadium, where both the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies played from 1971 to 2003.  The rate at which PFAS chemicals have been found in Phillies tested who played on the turf for years is approximately three times higher than the average rate.

The Inquirer hired an independent laboratory to test for 70 different per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are commonly referred to as PFAS* or “forever chemicals.”

Lab Findings

The tests performed by Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental Testing found 16 PFAS in the turf samples, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).  According to the American Cancer Society, studies in animals and humans have linked the chemicals to certain types of cancer, but further research is required to clarify a definitive link.

One possible route of contamination

The turf used in the stadium, where recorded temperatures were regularly over 100 degrees during summer Phillies games, could have released chemical vapors that were inhaled by the players.


While this discovery is disturbing and should prompt further investigation, it is critical to understand that no scientific studies have been conducted on this particular case and no definitive conclusions can be drawn to link the baseball turf containing PFAS chemicals with the unusually high number of players who died from brain cancer.


*PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. They are comprised of approximately 12,000 compounds. They are ubiquitous in the U.S., appearing in thousands of consumer and industrial products and are typically used to make products resist water, stains and heat, including household products (like carpeting, curtains, furniture upholstery, waterproof and stain-resistant flooring, etc.), cooking supplies (including cooking utensils and bake ware), clothing, personal care products (like cosmetics, including waterproof mascara) and even food (PFAS appears in processed food packaging for humans and pets) and public drinking water (tap water) that affects an estimated 2 million Americans. PFAS chemicals are usually found in products labeled “stain-proof” and “waterproof”.  PFAS chemicals also appear in fire-fighting foam and other industrial products used at airports and military bases across the country, where the chemicals have leached into the groundwater. PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment or human body.  PFAS chemicals have been linked in scientific and medical studies to a variety of serious health conditions including cancer (including testicular cancers), kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid problems, reproductive problems, endocrine problems (PFAS has been found to disrupt hormonal functions with some research suggesting that the PFAS chemicals are linked to accelerated ovarian aging, period irregularities and ovarian disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome) and liver problems. Some newer PFAS have been found to accumulate in organs, so in some cases, science simply cannot detect the toxic chemicals when testing for it in blood.