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Over the past several months and at numerous school board meetings, a group of concerned residents have been advocating for a natural safety surface material called Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) for the renovations to playgrounds at Meramec Elementary School and The Family Center. The original proposals called for synthetic surfaces. The Family Center PTO unanimously agreed that the use of EWF provides the most fiscally responsible option while protecting the health and safety of those who work and play at the school. As such, Engineered Wood Fiber is what will now be used for the renovations to the Family Center playground.  At Meramec; however, our concerns have not been addressed. The Clayton School District has approved and plans to install a synthetic surfacing under a new play structure this summer. Given that this decision impacts our children, staff and community and has also been funded by our community, we know our voices matter. We need your help! 

We are asking that Clayton School District (CSD) give priority to EWF as opposed to any synthetic surface and that a change order be completed so EWF can be utilized under the play structure that is due to be installed at Meramec Elementary School during the summer of 2018.  

The Solution:
Engineered Wood Fiber(EWF) provides the only safe and proven option for our playground safety surface. It has a long history (over 30 years) of supportive research and gives us peace of mind as a community. It also provides the most financially sound investment without the need for regular replacement. EWF meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Our Parent Advisory Council of Children with Educational Diversity (PAC.ED) Chairperson has been vocal in this conversation and has spoken out in support of EWF for all students including those with disabilities.

The Problem: 
The Clayton School District has approved plans to install a synthetic surfacing material that has been on the market for less than 3 years. The long-term safety, durability and health implications of CSD's proposed infill material are unknown. It is an “experimental product” with no scientific names for the materials. The Hydrochill technology in the proposed material is “proprietary.” All we do know is that the product has an ingredient listed as being identified under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Synthetic surfaces with or without infill remain dangerous and toxic. The material and replacement costs are a reckless use of PTO dollars. This surface is only warrantied for 5 years and will likely need total replacement every 8-10 years.

Benefits of Engineered Wood Fiber: 
•  ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant:
•  Lead/heavy metal-free 

•  Not chemically treated 
•  Safe 

•  Cool 
•  15-25 year lifespan 

•  Minimal maintenance

•  Cost-effective 
•  Recommended by pediatricians at Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center
•  Environmentally sound and sustainable
•  Proven and reliable
•  In use for 30+ years
•  The most commonly used playground safety surface in America due to performance, cost and safety.
•   Local advocates for EWF include the Missouri Botanical Gardens and Rockwood School District.
Problems of synthetic surfaces, according to independent research, not funded by industry:
•  Toxicity - at least 12 carcinogens and lead, a neurotoxin
•  Chemically treated with multiple sprays at factory and after installation for maintenance to combat blood, sweat, spit, animal feces, etc.
•  Lack of long-term safety data and unproven durability 
•  Fails impact safety testing frequently (falls, broken bones, concussions) 
•  Cause of outbreaks such as coxsackie (hand, foot and mouth); seven times risk of Staph/MRSA 
•  Extremely hot temperatures, frequently reaching 150°F and higher on clear, sunny days  
•  8-10 year lifespan; disposal to landfill
•  Financially reckless
•  Negative environmental impact; polluting water, soil, air
Consider the recommendation from Rockwood School District's Grounds Services Supervisor, Steve Meyers: 

"We have used Engineered wood Fiber or "Wood Carpet" for 15 - 20 years. We as a school district like it and it covers us in regards to liability because it is certified. Almost all of our schools use engineered wood fiber in their playgrounds...We spend probably 2 months out of the year on maintaining our playgrounds. Wheel chairs can be pushed through the wood carpet.  Sometimes it may not be easy depending on the grade of the playground.  There is around a foot in depth if not a little more of EWF on each playground.  I think EWF is a good, safe playground surfacing that gives our kids, parents, and our staff security that we have the best playground surfacing on our playgrounds to help prevent kids from getting seriously hurt like broken bones and head trama.  I think we made the right decision many years ago when we went with Engineered Wood Fibers.  It is a safe Product that is helping keep our kids from getting seriously injured when they fall using our playground equipment...Yes, I would recommend EWF for playground surfacing at The Clayton School District."

The School District of Clayton should not be spending tax payer dollars and donations on artificial turf playgrounds that can exacerbate our children’s health problems now, and potentially cause them to develop future issues. 

To ensure the health and safety of our community and the sustainability of our city, we demand that immediate action be taken by CSD to utilize EWF for Meramec Elementary School's playground surface.