Monday July 29: Community Forum On Making DC Playground Surfaces Safe

On Monday July 29, the Sierra Club Grassroots Network for Safe Healthy Playing Fields and Playgrounds will hold a community forum on lead and other dangers posed by the use of synthetic surfaces made from recycled tires on playgrounds and recreational spaces.

The forum is free and open to the public; it starts at 7 pm at the Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church, 6951 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, MD, (literally) right on the border with DC.

To register and get more information, see here.

Panelists (comprising researchers and environmental scientists) and other presenters (including an ANC commissioner) will discuss recent tests that have shown high lead levels on rubberized playground surfaces at DCPS’s Takoma, Truesdell, and Janney schools.

In addition to high lead levels, DC playground and recreational surfaces made from recycled tire materials have been shown to have excessive levels of heat (see here and here) and excessive hardness.

Last year, outlining the health and environmental dangers of rubberized surfaces in detail, local organizations and businesses sent an open letter to DC city leaders, urging a moratorium on synthetic turf and poured-in-place playgrounds in the city. In the letter’s wake, the city council passed a bill to test all playgrounds and other recreational surfaces for safety (the legislation itself is here).

In DC, these issues are not small, as many DC school playgrounds and recreational spaces have recycled tire materials comprising their surfaces, in varying states of (dis)repair (which can exacerbate environmental problems). Recently, city officials appeared to dispute reports of high lead levels (see here and here and here) at some DC school playgrounds. Despite pledging to test all such surfaces by January, DC officials have undertaken different tests than those that have shown much higher levels of lead.

Expect a bumpy ride for playground safety this fall.

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