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Concerned Parents Against Rubber Infill on the Turf at Somerset Elementary

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Please read the following letter written to the Bellevue School District and support our cause by signing the petition and forwarding on.


Dear Bellevue School District:

I am writing on behalf of the Somerset PTSA to express our ongoing concern with the installation of crumb rubber infill on the turf field. We have contacted you several times this summer with no response. While we offered to subsidize the installation of an alternate, natural product, such as cork, the district rejected our request and has instead chosen to install the cork at another school.

As a review, crumb rubber infill contains toxins such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), metals, phthalates, and volatile and semi-volatile organic hydrocarbons associated with neurologic and developmental deficits; eye, skin and upper respiratory irritation; and cancer.

As detailed in our earlier letter, numerous organizations have recommendations for precautions for children using crumb rubber infill fields because of the potential for exposure to known carcinogens. We noted that if the district were to proceed with the installation of crumb rubber, the district had a duty to institute these precautions. Among these precautions are thorough washing of exposed skin.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission website states,

“…the following precautions to limit exposure are recommended:

*Avoid mouth contact with playground surfacing materials, including mouthing, chewing, or swallowing playground rubber. This may pose a choking hazard, regardless of chemical exposure.
*Avoid eating food or drinking beverages while directly on playground surfaces, and wash hands before handling food.
*Limit the time at a playground on extremely hot days.
*Clean hands and other areas of exposed skin after visiting the playground, and consider changing clothes if evidence of tire materials (e.g., black marks or dust) is visible on fabrics.
*Clean any toys that were used on a playground after the visit.” [1]

We note that kids will have multiple exposures to the field each day, but of the most concern is during recess. Since the district has moved recess to before lunch, at our school this means we have ~250 students entering from outside to the cafeteria, where there are two bathrooms, each with two sinks. This is clearly inadequate.

While we continue to pose strong objections to the crumb rubber infill, and hope that the district will change out the material as soon as possible, we have an urgent situation in which we need immediate measures instituted to accommodate the washing to exposed skin, especially prior to eating.  We suggest the district install more sinks.

At Somerset elementary, there is room near a hose bib on the outside of the school where trough sinks could be installed permanently, or as an immediate interim measure, temporary sinks could be installed. Clearly there will also need to be paper towel dispensers, trash receptacles, etc. Please note, that hand sanitizer is not a solution since it is not an issue of germs, but rather of chemical toxins that need to be removed from the skin.

There are additional issues of the tracking of the crumb rubber infill into the school, particularly classroom floors where elementary children sit for circle time, so skin exposure could be occurring throughout the day. We hope to hear more from the district about plans to mitigate exposure, such as installation of outdoor shoe scraper mats, but in the meantime the sinks are needed immediately.

The lack of response from the district is troubling, as well as rejection of our request and instead proceeding with the same request at another school.  The field installation process has been fraught with problems for over a year, and has already had a significant negative impact on our school and students, the details of which we will not reiterate here, however, at this juncture members of our community wonder if we need to draw attention via media coverage or engage legal assistance if our concerns are not addressed.

Please let us know if the sinks will be ready by the first day of school on August 31, 2017, as well as other exposure mitigation measures.


Emilie Castle,

President, Somerset Elementary PTSA

[1] Education/Safety-Education- Centers/Crumb-Rubber-Safety- Information-Center accessed 6/20/17

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