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Parents in Bellevue question the safety of crumb rubber on children’s play fields

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BELLEVUE, Wash. — Standing next to what will become the new Bennett Elementary School in Bellevue, Allison Huff worries about her children’s new school.

“I just don`t understand why they`re taking the risk on it,” she said, talking about the tiny bits of black that fill play fields across Western Washington.

Huff is among a growing list of parents who are wary about crumb rubber being used on all-weather fields.

A cheaper alternative to cork, sand or regular grass, the black dots are processed tires or other rubber.

Data pix.

Scientists fully admit there are bad chemicals locked inside. Anecdotal observations in the Seattle area showed a cluster of cancer patients who played soccer on the fields.

“Even within the last couple months, it`s been more of an issue in the news,” Huff said.

The Washington Department of Health found no connection between cancer and crumb rubber.

But the state of California and the EPA are going even farther and studying the full effects of contact and ingestion of the dots.

But answers won't be known for more than a year, at least.

Meanwhile, upwards of 13,000 fields are already in place and 1,200 more are going in across the country, according to the EPA.

Huff says Bellevue is pushing too hard, too fast at new schools.

“It`s not worth the risk,” she reiterated. “Even if the studies come back and say it`s safe, I still don`t want my kids playing on that, possibly ingesting it.”

The district voted two weeks ago to keep going with crumb rubber, but to use a chemical coating to lock the toxins in place.

Parents like Huff say a wait will be worth it until the science is settled.

“It`s going to be a totally different story when you have 3- and 4-year-olds that are putting their hands in their mouths and they`re tracking this stuff into the classroom.”

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