CLL and Rubber Mulch and/or Artificial Turf

There have been some news reports about a potential association between Artificial Turf and Cancer - lymphoma and leukemia in particular. I put down a significant quantity of Rubber Mulch last summer (60 bags) in my garden (made of the same recycled rubber tires as Artificial Turf). In February, I was diagnosed with CLL.

Has anyone else with a CLL diagnosis had any significant contact with Rubber Mulch and/or Artificial Turf? CLL cases in the US are up about 25% since 2000 and I'm wondering if there is a relationship between the wide-spread use of Artificial Turf and/or Rubber Mulch and this increase.

See Forbes article February 2016 on the topic:

6 Replies

  • I had artificial turf put down 10 years ago. Scary.

  • There have been a number of studies of people working in the synthetic rubber industry and there was found to be an increased relative risk of CLL and NHL, in some studies.

    Occupational exposure over years and increased risk of CLL is seen in a number of petrochemical industries...but it is virtually impossible to prove causation...


  • I'd say it's more likely that if you were tested for CLL before you put down your rubber mulch, then it would have been found. After all, you are only talking what 6 to 8 months and even acute cancers take time to develop. CLL is a chronic disease that develops slowly and quite a few members have found that they've likely had it for years when they've checked back on earlier blood tests, myself included. Some of us have even found out that our doctors knew or suspected we had leukaemia and had been keeping an eye on it without informing us for many years.

    I'd be interested in knowing how the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compares with what we regularly breath in when commuting. When we are in road traffic, we are all breathing in rubber dust and partially burnt petroleum products, which would include many of the same compounds released by the rubber mulch/turf. Most of us are surrounded by large areas of bitumen pavement - check out Google Earth to see what percentage of our landscape is covered with it. Don't forget to count how many rubber tyres your household has and they get hot in the sun and while driving at speed and they need replacing regularly because we wear off the rubber tread...

    This association certainly should be investigated, primarily because children that are playing on these surfaces are in greater contact than adults and have a lifetime ahead of them for cancers to develop. GOSHAWK and Cindy1462 may have more cause to be concerned, given the time they've been exposed, but why do some of us develop CLL and not others when we are similarly exposed? As Chris says, "it is virtually impossible to prove causation" and if we removed what was laid down 8, 10 years ago, what real difference would it make - most of the readily volatile components would have been baked out by all the intervening summers and we still have tyres and roads all around us.


  • My reply is somewhat off topic. I can't comment as to effects of the rubber mulch on CLL but as a master gardener I can say that the mulch adds no benefit to the soil and it will be there for a long long time and can only negatively affect the soil. Leaves, etc., will build up on it and weeds will grow there anyway and you will have a difficult time removing it.

  • More off topic but good for a laugh while making some valid points about the strange things we do in our gardens:

    Yard Work (overheard in a Heavenly conversation between God and St. Francis):


  • That is what I have been bemoaning for many years--to no avail.

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