Letter to the Editor: Children deserve ‘due diligence’ on crumb rubber turf



I’ve followed the Edmonds School District’s proposed use of crumb rubber on Woodway fields under the Inter-Local Agreement (ILA). After listening to a consultant at a City Council study session, I have questions:

  • Crumb rubber contains toxins. Does a child have to get sick before considering safety?
  • Cancer is a concern. Is that gamble acceptable?
  • Why does the District resist investigating alternatives?

While proponents cite safety reports, many parents are unconvinced.

Council Member Adrienne Fraley-Monillas was told by the District Superintendent that opposing crumb rubber will effectively terminate the District/City partnership. I find that a dangerous stance. Crumb rubber is unregulated and the jury is still out on safety.

This is not limited to Edmonds. Burien reversed course on crumb rubber in 2014 over safety concerns. Los Angeles chose not to install it for the same reason.

I applaud the Council’s caution. Our legislators should examine crumb rubber under the Children Safe Products Act. Meanwhile, if waiting is an ILA deal breaker, I would ask the City not to enter the agreement.

I urge the Council to work with the Verdant Health Commission on finding alternatives. Our children need safe fields. We owe them our due diligence.

Alicia Crank

15 Replies to “Letter to the Editor: Children deserve ‘due diligence’ on crumb rubber turf”

  1. Thank you for your insightful and concise letter. I agree wholeheartedly. And I am completely baffled and concerned about a Superintendent and 4 School Board members who continue to refuse to consider ANY other form of turf infill, even as they receive every-increasing examples of communities both large and small, all across the country, who make the choice for caution. (And let us be clear…we ask only for a non-toxic INFILL, and have no quarrels with artificial turf.) Community awareness is only increasing; it will not go away. The School Board has publicly stated that it would be possible to amend their turf contract at any time (to chose a different infill), yet they steadfastly refuse to do so. And they seem to think it is within their right and power to bully our City Council and our citizens. Did we really elect these people? Perhaps that was our mistake, but if they do not change their course and opt for care and caution for our children, citizens and environment, we DO still have an election coming up, and we will know what to do. Kory DeMun, Gary Noble, and Diana White are all up for re-election and have consistently been in favor of crumb rubber infill. (April Nowak’s position will also be vacated; I list her separately because she was the one voice on the School Board who spoke up for caution, and sadly, is not running for re-election.)


  2. As a recently retired Edmonds School District employee (as of June) I have found in the past few years many instances where the head honchos in the district ( not teachers or administration at the school level) seem less concerned about the children in the district and more about the dollar signs. Maybe this is another example of the same.


  3. It is a staggering thing to watch the school district proceed with something that contains toxins, that our kids (and adults, and animals in the area) will breathe in. Our kids roll in it!

    The skin is the largest organ in our bodies! Whatever goes onto our skin, goes directly into our blood!

    It seems a blatant disregard of citizen concern, and it is beyond baffling, the stance they are taking. I, too, would encourage the city council to NOT enter into an agreement with the school district. Entering into such an agreement, with a gun held to our heads, makes no sense. Endorsing a field that causes such concern, by virtue of entering the agreement with the district, sends a bad message.

    Shame on the school district — and Edmonds City Council members, stand strong against this kind of politicking! It is disgusting and alarming!


  4. It’s so very very sad that the Edmonds School District has legal authority to endanger children. Can I contact CPS?


  5. One does not have to look far to see where prioities have changed drastically. Many things seem to be no longer about the children. There is an old saying…….absolute power corrupts ….corrupts something……in this case maybe the safety of the children, in my opinion. And we’re not talking here about art, reading, math, arithmatic, etc. We’re talking about play fields for sports. And quite frankly, what does the school board have to do with that? Holding a city ransome over possible unsafe playing fields that children use and something that many cities across the country have chosen not to use until further, longer term testing and statistics regarding possible toxic poisoning.

    Yes, I guess our politics are all about something else now. Its within the power of the people to return the power to the board members who will execute the will of the people, for the good of the people, in this case, the CHILDREN. I dont care what it is, we dont need any more toxic chemicals in our environment then we already are trying to get rid of.

    It IS in the job description of our Mayor that he is to ensure the safety of all citizens. Why have we not heard from him on this important undertaking in our city?


  6. Tomorrow night , November 3rd, ESPN E:60 at 5:00PM PST

    “This is the fifth goalkeeper I’ve hooked up this week” the nurse said. The hairs on the neck of University of Washington goalkeeper coach Amy Griffin stood on end…a chill went down her spine. It was an a-ha moment. After that visit, Amy started a list, a list of athletes with cancer. That was in 2009. Today the list has almost 200 names. Most are soccer players. About two thirds are soccer goalies. But they all have one thing in common…they all play their sport on a synthetic turf comprised of tiny black rubber pellets, known as crumb rubber. There are more than 12,000 of these fields across the US. Some are in pro stadiums…but most are at schools or town parks. The black rubber pellets used to be tires, which contain several known carcinogens. While the turf industry cites existing science and insists they are harmless, parents like Stephanie Beardemphl are not so sure. Her son Luke, a career goalie, died this year of lymphoma. In this E:60 investigation, former US National Team star Julie Foudy examines the use of crumb rubber on synthetic turf fields by talking to those who make it, those who have studied it, including an exclusive interview with the head of the EPA, and the people who play on it every day…all with one question in mind. Is turf safe?

    Here is the trailer – https://vimeo.com/144423290


  7. Barry,
    Myy contacts (and they are pretty good contacts) confirm that this one hour investigative report, “Turf Wars”, will be on ESPN”s e:60, tonight (Tues 11/3) at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. Stay tuned…


  8. Thank you everyone for staying on top of this broadcast. Harry’s link above is to the whole, 16 minute, ESPN story. After viewing the segment, and having read all of the MEN commentary on this subject, I agree with the folks who want to see crumb rubber turf banned. I just cannot ignore the statistics presented by the UW goalkeeper coach, which I find overwhelming for getting rid of crumb rubber fields. (Both of my children played ‘keeper and my daughter received specialized training – with lots of time diving on the turf!)


  9. What also needs to be kept to the forefront is the culpability of the Edmonds School District and the Edmonds City Administration in knowingly permitting a development at the Old Woodway HS that did not conform the Edmonds Development Code. Evidence I presented to the Edmonds City Council and to MEN show definitively that both the ESD and the Administration knew that the development was not compliant with the code going back as far as 1999. Further the a required document for the project that at least must be done within the last 5 years was from 1993 and fraudulently used in the approval process. All of this was purposefully done.


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