Letter to the editor: Edmonds School District may pay big price later for turf decision



On Tuesday, the Edmonds School Board made the decision to install a crumb rubber/artificial turf field at Former Woodway High School. It was a disappointing vote for the large group of community members, parents and students who have been urging the board to go with an alternative infill material for the proposed synthetic turf field. Crumb rubber is made from recycled used tires and used as an infill material on synthetic turf fields. There has been mounting nationwide concern that exposure to crumb rubber may lead to an increase in cancer, particularly among children. Additionally, there are concerns about runoff entering Olympic View water supply, nearby Deer Creek, and potential for harm to migratory birds in the wooded area surrounding the fields, an area designated a Washington State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Area.

Following the vote, School Board President Diana White stated “Do I serve a small population of students from Edmonds Heights and Scriber or do I help the 4,000 student-athletes and community who will use this field to its fullest potential and the answer is easy for me.” White’s statement was an insult to all, but especially to the neighbors and community members, those without students on campus, who turned out to speak. Not surprisingly, as this was a school board meeting, there were many with school children in attendance; there was also an Edmonds’ City Council meeting at the same time which other community members attended. It should also be noted that not one person present spoke in favor of the current field plan.

To infer that the Edmonds Heights community was being self-centered and attempting to keep the fields to themselves was a complete manipulation of the message presented. The majority message was “Safe athletic/playfields for ALL”….EVERYONE, including athletes from other schools, community sports, surrounding community, and of course the programs located on that campus. That is anything but self-serving! We are addressing the health of all who will use the field. Additionally, Washington State Senator Maralyn Chase, who has no personal ties to the school, spoke on the unknowns with crumb rubber safety. She strongly encouraged a delay on the vote while its safety was studied. What an insult to her and her time to suggest that those who opposed the plan were only from the Edmonds Heights community

The morning following the vote ESD Superintendent Nick Brossoit suggested posting warning signs for all athletic fields. I believe this is less out of public concern and more of a CYA move, but I am thankful, at least the information may get out. We have helped spread the word to a much larger audience, who if concerned can take measures to protect their children when playing on this type of field.

Considering the lessons we have learned about tobacco, asbestos, lead paint, and pesticide use, which were all once touted as safe…..why risk making the same mistake, especially when there are safer options available? It should also be noted that, as reported by My Edmonds News, Verdant was open to the possibility of providing additional money to cover the cost of a expensive type of artificial turf, if the district was to make the request. Sadly, they did not make a request.

While we may not have been able to get ESD to make the safer choice for these two fields, this isa  much larger issue. It is disappointing Edmonds School District does not choose to act on this now and be on the forefront of our children’s and community’s safety…they may pay a big price catching up later.

Deflated, but not defeated,

Laura Johnson


  1. My comments also included urging Senator Chase to fully fund a scientific and non biased study regarding the use of crumb rubber similar to the study done by the State of Connecticut. School boards and municipalities would welcome more science based information on this topic.


    • To be fair, the Edmonds School District did hire an industrial hygienist to look at the safety of crumb rubber. The final report was an analysis of 34 articles/studies PROVIDED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT! A district interested in not only installing another crumb rubber turf field, but also confirming their past choice to install crumb rubber fields at other schools. By providing their own hand-picked articles for analysis, and calling it a “study”, they were able to influence the conclusion. However, this is anything but “UNBIASED”! Hopefully the next study ESD uses in its decision making is truly unbiased!


    • regarding “non biased”……..a good article to read particularily when sometimes money is the bottom line, lobbyists, corporate pockets, cronyism, etc….all bad toxins and chemicals the same when it comes to the health of living creatures on this planet and the planet

      and this is from the Mesothelioma people that treat people that have been poisoned


      I just happened to notice that there is a crum rubber institute or council……something along those lines….of course


  2. According to the EPA in late 2013 only 4,500 fields in the country had crumb rubber use.

    The following is a list of all the possible chemicals that can be in crumb rubber including CADMIUM and it is crumbly and loose and can leave the area in many ways including birds, walkaways, surface water, etc.)

    CADMIUM (yes, the same as in artists “cadium” paints also that must be handled very carefully by adults and I would not let a child handle at all in my art studio……very toxic substance and one of the most toxic in the world!!) was found in an award winning study in China at the Fudan University of Public Health over a ten year period with people in contact with cadmium either environmentally or occupational to have harmful affects to their bodies that can last up to 30 years with many illnesses. Cadmium has also been found in a few toys/necklases for children that have come from China.

    The U.S. listed cadmium by the Toxic Substances Disease Registry as one of the most poisonous chemicals in the world.

    List of possible chemicals in crum rubber:

    Acetone, aniline, arsenic, barium, benzohiazale, chlorethiam, chromiam, cobalt, copper,

    halogenated flame retardant, isoprene, latex, lead, manganese, mercury, methl ethl ketone,

    mephtalene, isobutyl , nickel, nylon, phenol pigments, polycycic aromatic hydorcarbons, polyester

    rayon, styrene, butadiene, touieene, trichlor thylene

    Always an issue of safety, do we wish to expose anybody, including our wildlife to any ONE of these chemicals or pollute our environment?

    This is another example of maybe putting the cart before the horse. This could be the same manner in which thousands were exposed to asbestos and then the companies and producers (and there were many big name U.S. companies) that started putting money aside in the late 1930s (asbestos discovered for use in late 1800s, Libby Montana house insulation, railroad brakes, etc.) to pay for potencial law suits that might turn up down the road. These companies were well aware at the time that asbestos was very toxic. I am aware of this because my father since deceased, was part of a huge class action lawsuit that went after many of the companies that exposed people to this toxic substance……and yes, have been paying the settlements for a long time, including now, and asbestos still in older in homes, insulation, calking,etc…….

    Better safe than sorry regarding our children, grand children and our future


  3. Ultimately, Gary Noble and Diana White, have harmed themselves by voting to support the use of poisonous materials in the athletic fields at the old Woodway High School property currently housing Edmonds Heights K12 and Scriber High School. When they vote against kids, against the environment, and against the community, they lose. This issue will haunt the re-election campaigns this fall. If they are unwilling to stand up for what is right, how can we be willing to give them another chance to “serve”. Send a clear message to all elected officials, “when you put profit ahead of health and safety, you are unfit for office and we will vote you out.”




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