A group of concerned activists outside of Seattle, Washington have been following the progress of a new playfield closely. The group was concerned with conflicting information about using crumb rubber from recycled tires, instead of plant-based alternatives, as the infill for a new playfield. The field is a collaboration between the school district, city and health district.
New studies on harmful exposure and attention from the Women’s World Cup, where the field used crumb rubber and the athletes had complaints (see article here), have brought controversy to the Edmond’s playfield. Senator Maralyn Chase, winner of NCAP's 2015 Rachel Carson award, has pledged to address this issue in the 2016 legislative session.
Laura Johnson has been leading an alliance of concerned citizens, parents and activists to investigate crumb rubber and propose alternatives. The group organized a rally, wrote letters to the school board, presented scientific research studies to the Edmonds City Council, wrote guest commentary to the paper, created a petition, canvassed to get signatures and even started an organization and website-Washington Alliance for Non-toxic Play and Athletic Fields (WANPAF). The alliance supports the need for a field but would prefer a more rigorously tested and safe alternative to recycled tires as the infill, such as cork and coconut fiber. They are getting exciting media coverage and lots of people are paying attention.
Laura Johnson puts it simply: “Crumb Rubber is made from tires. Tires contain carcinogens. Carcinogens and children do not mix.”
NCAP supports the alliance’s efforts and emphasis on the importance of human health. Community activism and political participation improve our quality of life! We are excited to highlight their actions and share their story to illustrate the importance of community involvement and understanding all aspects of an issue.
Think about parks, schools or play fields in your area in need of a reminder that environmental health and community health are interconnected. Get your friends together and start a movement in your neighborhood!
You can support WANPAF's work by signing the petition to promote alternatives to crumb rubber.
- Many of the steps they have taken are included in our guide Ten Steps to Pesticide-free Parks: How to Create Healthy Public Spaces in Your Community.
- Read Laura’s Guest commentary in the Edmond’s Beacon.
- Read a detailed press article in My Edmond's News