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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Safe Healthy Playing Fields Coalition to Testify at County Council Hearing on June 9, 2009 at 1:30 PM
Members of the Safe and Healthy Playing Fields Coalition will testify on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 before the Montgomery County Council at a public hearing on a special appropriation to the Montgomery County Public Schools FY09 Capital Budget, for
The members of the Coalition support the installation of a new athletic field at Walter Johnson. As with any other athletic field or public park in the County, this field must be made as safe as possible for children and adults. Since this is a school field special attention must be paid to any possible threats to vulnerable, developing bodies and minds. The field's short and long-term effects on the environment must also be addressed.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify the following problems with artificial turf fields:
-The presence of the neurotoxin, lead, in some turf fields
-High temperatures of up to at least 160 degrees F on the fields
-Potentially high bacteria levels
-Toxins leaching into groundwater from aging fields
-Athletes exposed to toxic dust from aging fields
-Disposal hazards and disposal costs of the rubber and plastic
In addition the Heat Island effect is well-known and documented for artificial turf fields. Heat Islands are a 24/7 phenomenon. They do not go away when the players leave the field.
What we don't know CAN hurt our children. What we DO know we have the responsibility and obligation to act on. Experts agree there is no "safe" level of lead for children, and the potential cleaning agents for artificial turf may pose additional health risks to children.
We request that post-installation provisions immediately apply to all currently installed fields at the Soccerplex and Richard Montgomery and fields under construction including
-Prior to installation, require that the turf – including the plastic blades and the tire-crumb base - test LEAD-FREE as analyzed and certified by an independent third party.
-After installation, for all current and future synthetic fields, periodically test for lead and other substances of concern for child health, particularly those substances specifically regulated by the government in children's products.
-After installation, for all current and future synthetic fields, periodically test bacteria levels and clean the turf following the evolving best practices.
-After installation, monitor the fields for temperature with provisions for cooling or closing in the event of on-field surface temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Test monitoring wells for any compounds leaching from the fields.
-Post warning signs with the recommended CDC precautions for athletes and parents.
-Plan for the cost and details of disposal of the plastic and rubber after the 5-10 year life of the field.
We ask the County Council NOT to approve any additional synthetic rubber-plastic fields, before piloting and comparing healthier, safer, more environmentally sustainable alternatives. These pilots should include well designed comparison studies of well-installed, organically maintained grass fields developed in consultation with sports field and plant experts. Other pilot fields to study might be safer, biodegradable or safe and clearly recyclable synthetic turf products for special field situations.
Please join us at 1:30 in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room,
Click here to view the packet of material under consideration by the Council.
Testimony from the members of the Safe and Health Playing Fields Coalition will be posted in cooperation with the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland on Tuesday afternoon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION check out the SHPF Coalition's Google Group. Subscribe to their group or just visit and read the materials that they have compiled.
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Thanks to the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland for dissemination of this press release, links to our testimony and for promoting our Google Group for more information!