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Rubber surfaces at four Montgomery County parks test high for lead

Playgrounds in Silver Spring, Fairland and Germantown tested by the county will reopen late July after rubber replaced due to high lead levels.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery Parks listed four playground rubber surfaces with elevated levels of lead after testing this spring:

Montgomery Parks announced in a news release: "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.

RELATED: Here are the DC playgrounds contaminated with lead

These tests come after they were commissioned by parent advocacy group "Safe and Healthy Playing Fields DC." 

Labs at The Ecology Center found elevated levels of lead in rubber surfaces at multiple DC school playgrounds.

Exclusive reporting by WUSA9 on the test results lead to DC Councilmembers demanding action by the DC Department of General Services.

Credit: DC DGS
A chunk of playground rubber tested for DC's Department of General Services with elevated lead levels

Tests run by both The Ecology Center on DC playgrounds and Montgomery Parks on their playgrounds, both found elevated levels of lead on pitted rubber areas exposed by wear and tear. 

Montgomery Parks says that once repairs on the four parks are complete, all rubber surfaces will have below the US EPA standard of 400 parts per million for lead.

Public health experts say rubber crumbs, often painted bright colors on playgrounds, can end up being in contact with children's skin and mouth. They add ingested lead can cause developmental and hormonal problems in children. 

RELATED: DC Council demands fast fix on playground lead

RELATED: Parents demand answers on playground lead in DC

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