2018 Written Testimony | Support Outdoor Playspaces Improvement Initiative

Dear Council Member Navarro, 

On behalf of the Woman's Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC), I am writing to ask you to approve full funding for the "Outdoor Playspaces Improvement Initiative" with the requirement that these funds only be used for the installation of natural surfaces and not for synthetic surfaces(whether poured-in-place/flexipave, or synthetic  turf field).  

As you may already know, there is growing, alarming evidence that synthetic turf is dangerous to our children.   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. Recent problems with the deterioration of the Montgomery Blair HS synthetic playing fields further underscore the reasons why Montgomery County should not be funding more synthetic fields.

WDC recently testified on behalf of State bill HB505/SB0763 to prohibit the use of State funds for more synthetic turf fields. WDC also joined with the Sierra Club Club and numerous other local environmental groups in support of this legislation and in opposition to the use of public funds for synthetic turf playing fields (read here). 

WDC knows that as a member of the Education Committee,  you are deeply concerned about our children. WDC hopes we can count on the Committee and Montgomery County Council to lead the way on this important protection for our children by ensuring that only natural surfaces are installed where our children play. 


Ginger Macomber

WDC Board member and Co-chair of the Advocacy Committee