HS Principal Responds to Crumb Rubber Turf Field Concerns in Montgomery County

Crumb rubber turf athletic fields are located at many schools, but one field in particular is raising concerns in Montgomery County, Maryland, due to its condition.

Parents are worried about sections of the football field at Walter Johnson High School that appear to have become damaged and degraded. However, Jennifer Baker, principal at the school, said she is confident their field is safe for play.

Members of the Montgomery County Civic Federation said they spent considerable effort getting information about the condition of the field through Maryland's Public Record Laws. They said the results were worse than they expected, and they're worried it might not provide sufficient cushioning on impact.

Maintenance records, which included impact testing, were also sought through public records laws.

"We found that some sections had potential for injury levels that tested higher than the maximum recommended by the NFL," said Bailey Condrey, with the Montgomery County Civic Federation.

Walter Johnson Principal Jennifer Baker sent an email to the school's PTSA Yahoo group, saying she met with staff from Montgomery County Public Schools' Department of Facilities Management and athletic office to learn about turf field safety.

"After reviewing our safety records and learning more about how our field is maintained on a regular basis, I am confident that our field is safe for play," she wrote.

The artificial turf on the football field was installed in 2010 and made by a company called FieldTurf. 

In a statement to Forbes magazine, which first reported the story, the company said, "FieldTurf is committed to the safety of every athlete that plays on each of our more than 7,000 fields. We stand behind the testing and safety of the fields."

The company also said Walter Johnson High School's field does meet industry safety standards for shock absorption. Some school systems around the U.S. have sued over the degradation of their fields.

Baker issued a statement on Tuesday, saying she reviewed safety records and believed "the necessary steps to properly maintain our field and keep it safe for our students is being taken by our staff and MCPS staff."

MCPS has a website with information about all the rubber turf fields at their schools. 

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