Image: Ozier Muhammad

Image: Ozier Muhammad

Sewell Chan, The New York Times, December 24, 2008


"The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation closed a soccer field in East Harlem last week and promised to test nearly 100 other play fields after preliminary tests indicated unusually high levels of lead in the rubber turf used in the field, at Thomas Jefferson Park.

The test results from the Jefferson playground exceeded the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 400 parts per million for lead in playground soil, Mr. Kavanagh said. (He said there is no limit specified for lead in playground turf, and so the department used the soil limit as the closest equivalent.)

'The fact that the city could not be bothered to conduct a single environmental study in ten years before spending more than $150 million dollars speaks volumes,' said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, an advocacy group that has been persistently critical of the department. 'Dumping more than 50 million pounds of a product which is wildly known to contain a host of metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium, into our park system is irresponsible at best. The city should instead be installing natural grass which cleans the air and filters out harmful particulate matter and provides a host of other environmental benefits.' "