2018 Written Testimony | Support HB 0505

SUPPORT House Bill 0505 – Use of Public Funds - Playground and Athletic Field Surfaces - Preferences and Prohibitions  | Appropriations Committee - February 8, 2018

Thank you for this opportunity to submit written testimony concerning an important priority of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) for the 2018 legislative session. WDC is one of the largest and most active Democratic Clubs in Montgomery County with more than 600 politically active women and men, including many elected officials.

WDC urges the passage of HB0505 "Use of Public Funds - Playground and Athletic Field Surfaces - Preferences and Prohibitions." This bill prohibits the use of State funds to build a new or replace an existing playground or athletic field with a synthetic surface, including the base foundation construction. A “synthetic surface” includes artificial turf and any ground cover made from recycled tires, plastic, or rubber. This bill also requires, to the maximum extent practicable, that the State or local unit responsible for construction of a playground or athletic field using public funds give consideration and preference for the use of state-of-the-art natural surface materials.

This bill will end the perverse incentive to install unhealthy, unsanitary, unsustainable, and fiscally irresponsible synthetic surfaces, and will support the installation of healthy, sustainable, cost-effective, and durable natural surfaces in the playgrounds and athletic fields used by our children. Synthetic surfaces imperil fiscal health, children’s health, and the environment, especially when compared with natural surfaces that are beneficial to human and environmental health, and are cost effective, durable, and ADA-compliant when properly maintained. Each synthetic turf field is composed of large quantities of plastic, tire waste, and other plastic waste, as well as flame retardants, biocides, fungicides, and even herbicides. Synthetic materials such as tires and other plastics indisputably include alarming contents like lead, mercury, eleven known human carcinogens, phthalates, PAH, benzothiazoles, asbestos-twin CNTs and many others. Other dangers include high surface heat, hazardous surface hardness, notorious torque-injuries, and turf-burn. Synthetic turf fields are also cost-prohibitive both initially and upon cyclical disposals and replacements.

When used in playgrounds and preschool areas, synthetic turf poses an even greater risk for younger children whose behavior includes hand-to-mouth play and rolling in the tire-based areas. There are no required standards or regulations for safety, testing, or monitoring of the heat or the toxins on or in these surfaces. Synthetic turf fields are not regulated as a children’s product despite overwhelming marketing materials directed at pre-college-age users.

The Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County urges passage of HB0505. Please help keep landfill waste (tires) out of our playing fields and playgrounds, and keep synthetic playing field waste out of our landfills.