School offers compromise to parents request to remove rubber tire mulch

Posted: Updated:

The Mahwah School District has come up with a compromise for parents’ requests to remove rubber tire mulch from school playgrounds.

Nearly 600 parents petitioned the school board to get rid of the rubber mulch because they fear that it may contain carcinogens. But after conducting its own investigation, the school board decided that the mulch won’t be removed – but it will be covered.

The rubber mulch has been at playgrounds at George Washington, Betsy Ross and Joyce Kilmer elementary schools for the last 20 years. The school board announced Wednesday evening that they have decided to place landscape fabric of the rubber and then put wood chips on top.

They say that they consider it to be a good compromise. But not all parents are happy.

“My gut feeling is that’s not an answer. That’s a Band-Aid, a cheap Band-Aid,” says mother Anne Powley.

Powley has a child at George Washington Elementary School. She has cited to the Board of Education a Yale University study claiming the tire mulch contains carcinogens, heavy metal and skin irritants. She says that at one time it may have been seen as a soft landing for kids on playgrounds but says that she believes that the technology is outdated.

"It might prevent children from coming in direct contact with the rubber mulch but the much is still sitting there still leeching as it has been,” she says.

Superintendent Lauren Schoen says in a statement, "The rubber mulch provides excellent impact absorption while the compacted wood mulch delivers an environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, clean and importantly ADA compliant, surface."

Schoen says that this should address concerns about surface temperature, odor, direct contact with the rubber mulch and stains on their children’s clothes. She says all three surfaces should be completed by the fall.

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