Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit and School Board President Diana White are continuing to insist that a literature review, commissioned by the Edmonds School District, and completed by Elizabeth Black of EMB Consulting LLC, proves that crumb rubber is safe. No public comments were allowed when Ms. Black presented her findings to the board, and the school board has not allowed the public comments relating to the report at school board meetings because “Ms. Black is not there to defend herself.”
I have a Ph.D. in Health Services Research. When scientists publish anything, be it an editorial or a research study, they put their reputations on the line. There is the expectation that it will be publicly discussed and critiqued by other scientists. This is how scientists communicate, learn from each other, generate hypotheses, and correct errors. Since the Edmonds School Board demonstrated hostility toward a civilized intellectual discourse in a controlled setting, those of us who know the scientific literature and who have read the report must publicly rebut Ms. Black’s report in other forums.
The Edmonds School Board members were provided a 19-page document detailing many of the biases, misrepresentations, and factual errors in the literature review before they voted to install crumb rubber on the fields at the Former Woodway High School. The Edmonds City Council was provided an updated document further rebutting this report.
Ms. Black repeatedly failed to demonstrate an understanding of the material being reviewed and even basic scientific concepts. For example, in her literature review, she claimed that while there are toxic chemicals in crumb rubber, an exposure pathway has not been demonstrated. In her testimony before the Edmonds City Council, she claimed the toxic chemicals were locked inside the rubber crumbs. She likened it to the way mercury was sealed in glass in old-fashioned thermometers.
However, laboratory studies demonstrate that toxic chemicals are constantly off-gassing from crumb rubber. It is easy to smell chemicals off-gassing from crumb rubber. I asked my 12-year-old daughter, “If you can smell something, is it getting inside your body?” She responded that you recognize smells when scent molecules attach to special receptors in the back of your nose. She told me she learned this from Ms. Frizzle on “The Magic School Bus.”
There are many serious problems with the literature review, but for this letter, I chose the one that could be easily be demonstrated with help from a 12-year-old child and Ms. Frizzle.
Christi Davis, Ph.D.