Wednesday, April 8, 2009

White House: Playground issue is mulch ado about nothing

White House: Playground issue is mulch ado about nothing
By McClatchy-Tribune Tuesday, April 7, 2009 U.S. Politics

CHICAGO - President Obama has been dealt a setback in his bid for traction with the green community and it amounts to a pile of ground-up tire mulch.

The mulch, used on a playground for first daughters Sasha and Malia, has raised eyebrows at an environmental health group, which contends it is a health hazard.

“This is not a material that children should be playing on,” wrote Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health, Inc.

The group said an analysis of ground-up tires done by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found a carcinogen, butylated hydroxyanisole; skin and eye irritants; material that destroys mucous membranes; and zinc.

Sinai Hospital in New York City concluded in March that "we are suddenly, and belatedly, beginning to realize that synthetic turf fields may, in fact, be associated with health problems in children."

First lady Michelle Obama’s communications director, Camille Johnston, said in an e-mail that the White House followed the recommendations of the National Recreation and Park Association "when choosing and installing the safety surface under the swing set."

Other experts said the use of recycled rubber tire material for such purposes has been shown to be safe over many years.

Johnston has ended the debate for now. The mulch is going to stay, she said. Article URL: