August 15, 2022

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Concerned Montgomery Co. neighbors warns of dangers on playground

2 min read

WHEATON-GLENMONT, Md. — Saturday was exceptionally hot! So hot, playgrounds around Montgomery County were empty and some community members think it’s for the best.

Volunteers with Safe Healthy Playing Fields said dangerous chemicals can be found on some playgrounds around the county and with the rising temperatures, they can even burn children.

Three different surfaces all found on one Montgomery County playground. Kathleen Michels said there are seen and unseen dangers that could impact the health of young children.

“Toxins, there’s heat, then injury, I can stand on this and it seems a little bouncy, but it’s actually not that impact protective. And so, you’re putting something on a playground that’s not actually protecting the children the way it should and it’s exposing them to harms that they should not be exposed to,” Michels said.

For years she and other volunteers with Safe Healthy Playing Fields have been advocating for change. They say the rubber material found on playgrounds is not only unhealthy and unsafe for the environment and people, but on days like this, the rubber gets up to nearly 200 degrees. And normal wear and tear that you’d find on any playground reveals more dangers.

“They look pretty, they’re colored, but the colors themselves that they put on nobody knows what’s in those colorants. So we’re worried about heat. They get much hotter than asphalt even,” she said. 

Michels said synthetic playing surfaces are common on sports fields and playgrounds, but just because they’re everywhere, doesn’t mean they’re the best option, noting there are safer alternatives.

“We’d like to see them take it out and put in a well designed engineered wood fiber surface, that’s what should be here. If designed right, the engineered wood fiber knits together. So, it’s wheelchair accessible, it just needs some raking. This playground starts breaking up and you can see they’ve already had to do patches, a number of patches on it when it breaks up, those tires underneath are accessible to the children,” Michels said. 

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2022-07-23 22:34:38

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