Six playgrounds in San Luis Obispo County have recycled tire rubber chips on the ground but some parents are not fans.
Now there’s a plan to remove them from one park in Los Osos.
Parents like Elizabeth Silva say the rubber chips smell and are dirty.
"It’s very oily," Silva said. "Dirty petroleum smell. It’s definitely not what you want your children in."
"They leave the kids’ hands and feet just black after they play and they have a very strong smell so I wondered about the toxicity of them," added parent Ashley Hart.
"I’ve been disgusted. I like how squishy it is but I hate how filthy everything is that it touches," Silva continued.
Five other playgrounds in the county have the material.
Nick Franco, Director of San Luis Obispo County Parks, says it is considered safe by the EPA. It’s a safety surface for fall protection in playgrounds across the nation.
"And that meets all of the safety standards for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and all of the code requirements for playgrounds," Franco said.
The Los Osos Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee asked the county to remove the rubber chips but were told they were set to be removed around 2023.
"But we as a community were ready to have them removed now," said Jennifer Foronjy, mom and member of the Los Osos Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. "They’re just not what we want our kids to be playing in and around, so they were incredibly helpful but they didn’t have the money to do it now."
In two weeks, it’ll all be removed with some elbow grease from volunteers.
The tire chips will be replaced with engineered wood fiber, a material that doesn’t splinter.
"I feel really positive about it in terms of our community and keeping our kids safe," Hart said.
Volunteers are needed to help remove the rubber material. That’ll happen on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30.
To help, you can show up or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
The chips will be brought to the dump in San Luis Obispo.
The park will be closed from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.
The project will cost about $12,000 and is expected to be paid for with the CSD’s park funds.
The county says all parks will have the rubber chips removed in the next five to ten years.