Four playgrounds have been closed for repairs.
SILVER SPRING, MD –Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, recently conducted specialized testing to assess lead levels in rubberized play surfaces. Twenty-four of the department’s 276 playgrounds contain rubber surfacing to enhance accessibility while reducing the likelihood of serious injuries from falls. Surface testing at all 24 playgrounds indicated levels of lead below recognized standards. Subsequently, bulk samples were also taken from areas where the surface layer was worn away. These tests showed elevated levels of lead in the rubber materials in four playgrounds. Although the risk of lead exposure at these playgrounds is low, they were closed for repairs on March 25, after the test results were received.
The four playgrounds are located at:
Repairs are currently in progress and all four playgrounds will reopen in late July. All rubber surfaces are being removed from Countryside and Fairland parks. Isolated areas of surface deterioration are being repaired at Calverton-Galway Local Park and Fox Chapel Neighborhood Park playgrounds, which have both been prioritized for a full renovation.
“The safety of our park patrons is always a top priority for the parks department. We decided to proactively test our playgrounds with rubber surfacing when we learned that testing in nearby jurisdictions showed elevated lead levels,” said Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks.
“All the surfaces tested showed lead levels below recognized standards, but in an abundance of caution we also tested the underlying materials in areas where the rubber surfacing was worn,” he added. “Since the primary risk of lead exposure to children comes from touching contaminated surfaces and ingesting contaminated material, including dust, the risk of any exposure to lead from rubber surfacing at our playgrounds is very low. We will continue to inspect all rubberized surfaces, and repair or replace them as needed, in order to ensure the continued safety of our playgrounds.”
Playground Testing Information:
Montgomery Parks engaged an industrial hygiene contractor to begin testing rubberized playground surfaces in February 2020. Some of the 24 playgrounds had more than one play area. Dust wipe samples were collected from 31 play areas at the 24 playground sites. Dust wipe sampling is done to collect lead dust on the surfacing that may easily be transferrable to a child’s hands, shoes or clothing and represents the highest risk to children. All 31 play areas tested by dust wipe sampling had results below recognized standards and present a low risk of lead exposure from community use. While there is currently no lead standard for playground surfacing, Montgomery Parks elected to use the most stringent standard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for lead on interior floors, 10 micrograms per square foot of lead for dust wipe samples. The lead standards used match playground testing used by other jurisdictions and is the best practice.
Montgomery Parks requested the contractor also take bulk samples of rubberized material from 13 locations where surface damage or deterioration was noted. The rubber bulk samples were tested and compared to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for lead in bare soil in children’s play areas, 400 parts per million (ppm). Nine of the thirteen sites had results of less than 400 ppm. Four of the sites had initial results above 400 ppm, but when the sites were re-tested all were well below the 400-ppm level. All four playground sites were closed after the initial bulk sample test results were received and the rubber material will be removed or repaired prior to re-opening them to the public. View the full report here.
A third-party playground contractor is making the repairs, which are ongoing and expected to be completed in July, when the playgrounds will reopen.
About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks
Montgomery Parks manages more than 37,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 424 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high-quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems. www.MontgomeryParks.org
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the involvement and participation of all individuals in the community, including those with disabilities, in the planning and review processes. In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs or activities. MNCPPC works to make its facilities and materials accessible and to hold public meetings in locations that are, likewise, accessible. MNCPPC will generally provide, upon request, appropriate aids and services and make reasonable modifications to policies and programs for qualified persons with disabilities (e.g., large print materials, listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.). For assistance with such requests, please contact the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Commissioners’ Office, at least a week in advance, at (301) 495-4605 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . Maryland residents can also use the free Maryland Relay Service for assistance with calls to or from hearing or speech-impaired persons; for information, go to www.mdrelay.org/ or call (866) 269-9006. Residents may also call the TTY number, (301) 495-1331, for assistance.