State senator, school board candidate enter turf battle during Monday protest

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State Sen. Maralyn Chase at Monday morning's turf fields protest.
State Sen. Maralyn Chase at Monday morning’s turf fields protest.

Washington State Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd District, joined a crowd of about 60 sign-waving, chanting protesters who lined 100th Avenue West in Edmonds Monday morning, reiterating their opposition to a plan to install crumb rubber turf playfields next to the former Woodway High School this summer.

This isn’t the first time that Chase, who lives in Edmonds, has spoken against the project. She appeared at the May 12 Edmonds School Board meeting urging the school district to delay action on the sports field complex project — jointly sponsored by the district, the City of Edmonds and the Verdant Health Commission — until more is known about the safety of the crumb rubber turf, which is made from recycled tires.

Despite Chase’s testimony, the school board voted 4-1 to approve two crumb rubber fields to replace current grass fields at the site, with construction on track to start this summer.

Issac Carrigan, a student at Edmonds Heights K-12, makes his feelings known.
Issac Carrigan, a student at Edmonds Heights K-12, makes his feelings known.

Crumb rubber turf is used widely in sport fields both statewide and nationally, and experts say that currently available research indicates the material is safe to play on. In Edmonds, parents and students attending Edmonds Heights K-12 School, which is located next to the planned project, along with neighbors living near the fields, have been raising health and environmental questions after recent anecdotal reports of cancer clusters among soccer goalies who have played on the artificial turf fields.

“They are within their legal right to do this,” Chase said. “But morally it’s reprehensible. It’s a school.”

The senator said that a 2009 state law that prohibits the manufacturing and sale of children’s products containing lead, cadmium or phthalates does not address turf made from recycled tires, but said that she plans to introduce legislation during the 2016 session to address the issue.

Protesters line 100th Avenue West at the school entrance.
Protesters line 100th Avenue West at the school entrance.

Chase also questioned why the school district wouldn’t take the Verdant Health Commission up on its offer to pay the difference to install turf that doesn’t include crumb rubber. “Why should we spread a carcinogen out there where our kids are playing?” she said.

Also in attendance was Chase’s daughter Carin, who is running for an open seat on the Edmonds School Board this fall, and whose teen son plays soccer, often as a goalie. “I think we need more education and information about this,” Carin Chase said, noting that the South Kitsap School District recently decided to install an artificial turf product made primarily of coconut fibers and sand.

“We know that it’s an available solution to use a non-toxic product such as they are doing in South Kitsap,” Chase said.  “I think this is something the school board should take another look at.”

In response, Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Joyce Jakala said in an email that “the district retained a certified industrial hygienist and Verdant also secured a toxicology and environmental consulting firm; both of the independent experts concluded that the chemical levels found in crumb rubber as used in field turf do not present a risk to people playing on or using the fields with these products. The district is not interested in other types of infills that have been proposed “because the turf experts have identified concerns with the various ‘alternative” infills, such that these are either problematic or unproven in terms of the performance of the fields over time,” she added.

12 COMMENTS

  1. What’s wrong with the grass that already exists on the play field?!! It’s been there for over 40 years and has never presented any problems!

  2. Yes, let’s have a listing of the turf “experts”…..and their long term studies

    ..Could these be similar (just a question)to the “experts” in the United States that told the public for 50 years that ASBESTOS is a many use wonderful product and was used in everthing from brake pads, insulation for windows, tools, machines, linoleum flooring, vinyl flooring, electrical insulation, insulation under sinks, plaster walls, ships, heating elements……and still used in some construction for buildings in 2000.!!…..artex ceilng coating was still in use and allowed to still be manufactured in 1984!…..can you say Mesothelioma?!….which some times takes 30 years to develope

    I am not saying the crumb rubber is the same as asbestos, but I would assume in regards to any known toxic chemicals that all would proceed with caution and wait until the EPA has finished current studies and long term studies…….I believe it took 30 years for cases of asbestosis to start showing up……..

    We dont know the dormancy period of the effects of these chemicals on living organisms or human beings

    Just about every business now has a lobbying entity as part of their business…….some are often referred to as the “experts”…….hard to tell and sort out

    Even the EPA in the 1970s debated how to tell the population in regards to the full story of asbestos use (which had been used for 40+ years already) and its toxicity. This information was also published in a very large local newspaper and across the country ( I have the original article of this)…..many law suits pay out through GENERATIONS of families……and thats a fact. The companies set money aside many many years prior just in case people got ill and there were lawsuits…..hard to believe but a fact regarding asbestos use

    “both of the independent experts concluded that the chemical levels found in crumb rubber do not present a risk to people”……….

    what about LONG TERM affects that may not show up now for those “experts”

  3. Tere Ryder, your comments are right on! There ARE no long term studies. In fact, there are very few studies and those that exist are quite limited in scope. All the experts that have been hired so far have been hired to review studies that have already been done. They are not producing their own studies; they are not coming up with anything new. Something in that crumb rubber that is close in nature to asbestos is Carbon Black. It breaks up into tiny nanotubes that act similarly to asbestos.

    I hope the protesting is helping to make the community of Edmonds aware of what they will be breathing and drinking (yes, those carcinogens will be filtering down into our drinking water). This isn’t just an issue for parents of children who attend Edmonds Heights (though that should certainly be enough of an issue for everyone to care about). It is an issue for every person who breathes the air or drinks the water in Edmonds. Will everyone fall ill from the effects of the crumb rubber in 20 years? Probably not. But what about the people who MAY be susceptible? Why oh why not err on the side of caution?

    We should not be mislead into thinking we need artificial turf to have first rate playing fields for our kids. They use real grass in Europe for soccer fields. They use real grass for the world cup….for the men….(and the women are demanding real grass for their play as well). I should think the Verdant grant of over 2 million dollars would be enough to mow and water real grass for quite a long time…..

  4. Wow. Just a 10 second internet search turns up some amazing stuff from credible sources including this story about the coach of the UW women’s soccer team who has found some truly scary information last year: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/how-safe-artificial-turf-your-child-plays-n220166 .

    Why is the school district even considering this? What’s wrong with grass? The last I checked grass isn’t made from lead and arsenic that’s ground up in tiny pellets that springs up into ingestible clouds when kids fall on it.

  5. I believe one of the dictionary meanings of the word verdant is green, GREEN with plant life…….”plant life” to me means something LIVING ……so my thoughts are we should expect nothing less from a company/ or entity that is using this word as part of their name …..or is this just a modern type of branding?…..I dont know, but these are the questions popping up in me mind……..seems to not make sence to me

    Originally when I saw the articles regarding this, I did wonder whats wrong with natural growing grass that has been used around the world through countless generations with no ill or possible poisoning affects.

    • It is my personal belief that Verdant has acted in good faith throughout this process. My understanding is that commissioners did not know that the school district intended to use shredded waste tires on the fields. Why would anyone think that a school district would be using a sports field as a dump site for tens of thousands of ground up used tires? Verdant commissioners thought they were simply funding fields where children and adults could run around outside and get exercise. When they found out about the health concerns associated with crumb rubber, they offered to help pay for non-toxic alternatives. You cannot fault people for not knowing everything.

      Six months ago, if you had told me that someone had a product that contained multiple toxins and carcinogens, couldn’t be land filled, couldn’t be used in mulch because it killed plants, couldn’t be dumped in the ocean because it destroyed coral reefs, I would have told you that the person had a hazardous waste problem. If you then told me that this product was actually being sold to school districts for use on playgrounds and play fields,I would have doubted both your sanity and your truthfulness.

      I believe the people at Verdant have been doing their best to improve the health of Snohomish county residents. They should not be blamed for Edmonds School District’s unwillingness to even consider nontoxic alternatives such as GeoTurf and grass.

      • I am not blaming Verdant……..just noticed the irony with this word……..Perhaps an investigation needs to be done regarding this and who did push it and why……In this case, cost doesnt seem to make sence to me….Yes, thank you so much, Senator Chase……..How does this happen in our city?……We should be all asking that question.

  6. To Senator Maralyn Chase and 32ndLD Chair Carin Chase… Thank you for “getting out there” ! You are champions …
    for the environment, the City of Edmonds and all from near or far … who will enjoy the “Old Woodway High School” sports facility of the future!

    Eve Wellington

  7. This is a beautiful, nourishing space for humans and wildlife and is the last green Open Space zoned in Edmonds. We urge those making decisions to keep it so. If you are concerned, keep making your voice heard! The plans are now to build 2 fields but the future plan is for 4 (taking all the green space left). Keep fighting this!

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