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Playground Tire Mulch A Cancer Risk? Mahwah Parents Petition For Replacement

Recent findings do not indicate that the rubber on the playgrounds and artificial turfs poses a risk to public health, but a group of Mahwah parents says there are still better alternatives available.
Recent findings do not indicate that the rubber on the playgrounds and artificial turfs poses a risk to public health, but a group of Mahwah parents says there are still better alternatives available. Photo Credit: https://www.citizenscount.org/

Recent findings do not indicate that the rubber used to make tire mulch on playgrounds and crumbs on artificial turfs poses a risk to public health.

But a group of Mahwah parents says there are still chemicals in the mulch and better alternatives available.

More than 538 signatures had been garnered on a Change.org petition launched by the group as of Sunday afternoon.

The parents hope local education officials will replace the shredded tire mulch cushioning the ground at the George Washington, Betsy Ross and Joyce Kilmer school playgrounds with wood fiber -- ASAP.

Mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, and other chemicals, heavy metals and carcinogens have been found in tires, according to the EPA.

Although studies have not found that crumb rubber turf is harmful, the surface contains hazardous chemicals, Center for Environmental Health research director Caroline Cox said in an NBC News report.

"The point is," she said, "let’s go with better alternatives instead of spending years and millions of dollars establishing harm. If there’s a better way to do this, let’s just do it."

Mahwah parents are arguing that the rubber mulch on the playgrounds is old (nearly two decades at GW), and still requires further testing by the EPA.

The EPA told NBC News it would not be would not be commissioning further research on artificial turf, leaving the decision in the hands of state and local officials.

A study by the Washington State Department of Health , found that "crumb rubber... does not suggest it poses a significant public health risk."

The study was encouraged when University of Washington Women’s Associate Head Soccer Coach Amy Griffin became concerned that the crumb rubber in artificial turf -- similar to tire mulch on playgrounds -- was linked to blood cancers developed by several soccer goalies around the same time.

"Parents should be aware, but not concerned," the report says. "We know that crumb rubber is made from tires that contain chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer.

"However, what is critical to consider are the routes of exposure and potential dose someone receives."

The Mahwah petition is suggesting Certified Playground Mulch as an alternative to the rubber mulch, saying the engineered wood fiber has the highest safety ratings and is inexpensive.

Click here for the petition.

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