Letters to the Editor

District should allow parents to remove crumb rubber from playground

An open letter to the San Juan Island School Board and the citizens of San Juan Island:

Please allow concerned parents and citizens of San Juan Island to remove the crumb rubber from the Friday Harbor Elementary School playground at no cost to the school district or the taxpayers.

As a licensed building contractor of 12 years and a tradesman of 23, I have reviewed hundreds of materials for the purpose of being included in the construction and finish systems of many buildings. It is an important task that is always a balance of meeting the goals of structural integrity, durability, low maintenance, health issues, and aesthetics — visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory (smell).

There are products that were once commonplace in construction, such as asbestos, that have since been proven to be harmful. Often we do not fully understand the health consequences of the products we use until they have been in service for many years.

Unfortunately, when we consider a product for use there often is not enough information to make a comprehensive and unbiased analysis for a given material. If there is any technical data available it is usually “industry-sponsored” and one must look to other sources of information. With the natural abilities we have to see, feel, taste and smell, potential problems can often be identified before they arise.

In the case of crumb rubber, some children and adults have experienced health problems already. The data available shows there are toxic components in the product, there are small particles that can be inhaled, leaves a residue on skin and clothing, and has an offensive smell. If it smells bad, don’t breathe it!

I hope the San Juan Island School Board will reverse its decision and allow us to remove the crumb rubber and replace it with engineered wood fiber. I believe the members of the board are committed to providing what is best for our children and I hope they will have the vision to see the short term and potential long-term health problems are not worth the risk when there are other more benign products available.

Kenny Christison
Friday Harbor

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