Mahwah BOE: Remove Shredded Tire Mulch from Playgrounds

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We request that the Mahwah Superintendent and Board of Education replace the shredded tire mulch on the George Washington, Betsy Ross and Joyce Kilmer school playgrounds with Certified Playground Mulch (wood fiber) as soon as possible, because: 
  

·     It has been in use at GW for over 20 years.  It is old and has degraded significantly.  It rubs off onto our children’s skin and ruins clothes and shoes.  Often the tire bits come home in pockets and shoes and end up in our homes. 

 
·      The EPA has NEVER evaluated the safety of the chemical composition of shredded tire mulch - Tires are regulated as hazardous and solid waste and should be disposed of safely, not used on a play space for children.  Because of widespread  concern, rubber mulch is currently under study by several federal agencies and the state of California to determine its toxicity. 
 
·     The law requires any products for children under age 14 to be lead-free, but for some reason the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not regulate tire mulch - A Yale university study showed that rubber playground mulch contains the heavy metals lead, cadmium and nickel and other known carcinogens. Results vary greatly from sample to sample as there is no regulation of the product.  In 2018 the  CPSC admitted there are significant concerns that warrant further investigation.
 
·      A 2015 chemical analysis of rubber mulch by Yale University found 11 carcinogens and 20 eye, lung and skin irritants.  Carbon Black makes up to 30% of every tire and is listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
 
·     Young children, with their developing systems, are more vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens. As such, we also request that the soil around the playgrounds be tested for heavy metals, lead, and VOCs
        

We request that Certified Playground Mulch, an inexpensive, engineered wood fiber that has the highest safety ratings in terms of preventing injuries from falls, be installed immediately, rather than a poured-in-place solid surface.
 
 
The poured-in-place solid surfacing is not a great option:

·    It is often made from shredded tires too, and can emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the heat. 

·     It is very expensive.  The cost for replacing the GW playground alone is estimated to be over $144,000!  Because of the extremely high cost, the Superintendent has classified the playground refurbishment under Capital rather than Operating expenses.  Capital expense planning will take longer than the regular budget cycle. The Superintendent would first look at all of the long-term capital projects being considered and would not tell parents until JUNE when or if the playgrounds would be addressed.  

·     Given the cost, it could take years to upgrade the playgrounds and a June decision makes it unlikely that any would be remediated before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. 

 

Certified Playground Mulch is the superior choice:

·     Nearly EVERY single school district in Bergen County uses Certified Playground Mulch.

·     It is a fraction of the cost of poured in place surfacing, at several thousand dollars per playground.  This is the best value for tax payers.

·     It offers the highest safety rating.  Wood retains its impact attenuation (the measure of how a surface can prevent injury in the case of a fall)  better than rubber, which hardens over time.

·   It offers the most assurance for those parents concerned about the chemical content of the mulch.  
 
For more information please contact: MahwahSchoolPlaygrounds@gmail.com