Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Breaking: Board of Ed Keeps Dangerous Field in Use Despite Testing Showing Field 4 Times as Abrasive as FIFA Standard. #SueUsWeDon'tCare #SuckItUpKids

Public Comments of Jennifer Young
Before the
Montgomery County Board of Education
 June 24, 2019
On Richard Montgomery High School’s Artificial Turf

Good evening members of the Board of Education and Superintendent Smith.  You
may remember at the CIP hearings in November a student from Richard
Montgomery who plays on the soccer team as a goalie, Molly Winchenbach.  She
testified about the unusual abrasiveness of RM’s new artificial turf field and the
resulting injuries suffered by student athletes.  She is my daughter.  She would be
here tonight to give you this update and make this plea herself, but she is at practice.  High school athletes never seem to have a season off these days.

To MCPS’s credit, after Molly’s testimony, they sent out samples of RM’s and Whitman’s artificial turf for independent testing to a lab in Canada.  Both
fields had been installed at the same time using the same organic Zeofill rock/sand mix but their effect on the athletes was drastically different with RM’s field causing substantially more serious abrasion injuries.  That different experience of
the athletes was confirmed by the objective tests.  Although in my meeting with the
Director of Construction and Director of Athletics back in February
to go over the
results of the tests, I was not permitted to keep a copy,
I wrote down the pertinent
results right after the meeting, so my numbers are within a few points.  There was
agreement in the room that the results were shocking. 
The abrasiveness of the field
was measured against FIFA’s standard of 30.

Old crumb rubber fields tested a 3. 

Whitman’s field tested a 20.  

RM’s field tested 128!
Four times the FIFA standard!

The lab tests also figured out why – the volcanic rock particles used in
the RM field Zeofill were much larger than those used at Whitman, and at RM, the
rock was layered with the sand like a cake, rather than all mixed together, as it was
at Whitman.  

Now that MCPS has verified what we have been saying all along – there is
something very wrong with the RM turf – it is so abrasive, it is tearing the skin off
the athletes, what are you going to do about it?
  MCPS thought that perhaps they
had solved the problem for this spring.  They had removed some of the fill and
tried to mix up the layers more by deep tining it.  The plan then was to just replace
the offending larger particle fill with the smaller particle fill gradually with regular
monthly maintenance.  But, I’m here to tell you, on behalf of my daughter and the
other student athletes who are using and will be using this field in the fall
regularly, that MCPS’s remediation plan is not aggressive enough.  I’ve provided
you with a picture of what happened to Molly’s leg the first time she slid on the
turf this spring to stop a ball coming into the goal.  The RM turf scraped off the top
layer of about 6 inches of her skin.
  This cannot be the conditions under which you
expect student athletes to play.  While all athletes may not experience the
abrasiveness of the RM field the same, it is particularly damaging to the students,
like Molly in positions, like goalie, who have to slide on the turf all the time.   She
plays on turf all over the county, both indoor and outdoor, and only receives
serious injuries like this from the RM turf.  

I understand that MCPS is in the process of asking the manufacturer of the
turf how much it will cost to replace all or most of the fill in RM’s turf all at once
over the summer.  I am asking you to ensure this remediation gets done
immediately.   (And any cost should not come out of CIP funds already allocated
to capital expenditures for RM, which needs substantial expansion over the
summer just to keep up with its ever growing student population.) You owe it to
the students whose health and safety you say are your top priority.  You now know
this turf is 4x the standard for abrasiveness, you know the reasons why it is so
abrasive, and you know what you need to do to fix it.  Don’t waste anymore time
while more students get hurt.  Do it now.

 Thank you.

UPDATE:  Board of Education sneaks February Report on to their website.

1 comment:

  1. Why do parents let their children play on these fields? Why doesn't the entire HS team stand up and just say no? Asking for a friend.


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