Testing was initiated after dozens of District of Columbia Public School playground surfaces tested as having elevated levels of potentially toxic lead in 2019.
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This is the first time that we have tested all existing playgrounds.
Our typical playground uses use Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) surfacing. EWF is a processed wood (approx. 2" length max.), ground to a fibrous consistency, free of hazardous elements, and approved by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA). It is engineered specifically for playgrounds and free of twig and leaf material. However, each site will be evaluated to determine the best surface. Site conditions or programmatic needs may make poured in place a preferred surface. For example, a site that is in the flood plain may be a good candidate for PIP.
The remediation work to be completed by HAZMAT specialists will be completed by Summer 2021. Full-depth play surface and base to be removed to soil depth and tested for EPA complicate standards prior to replacing new EWF wood fiber safety surfacing material.
We are committed to providing a safe play environment for Prince George’s County families. Rubberized surface playgrounds are recommended to be tested annually to meet EPA standards. Any future PIP surfacing will be tested before the playground is opened for use. The Park Planning and Development Division is finalizing a playground replacement plan and can incorporate recommendations for a 10-year life cycle prior to further deterioration to keep play spaces safe and maintained. The Department will determine future playground surfacing standard use of either EWF or PIP, decision points based on existing environmental site conditions, ADA needs, and community/facility director requests.