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January 15, 2003
Toronto playgrounds are safe City CCA-Treated Play Structure Strategy in progress
  
Parks and Recreation - Toronto playgrounds are safe. There is a comprehensive
strategy in progress to look at the issue of CCA-treated play structures in
City parks and City-owned child care centres and to implement an action plan.

As directed by Council, Toronto Parks and Recreation worked with Toronto Public
Health and undertook a comprehensive study of all City-owned CCA-treated play
structures in 217 parks and child care centres in fall 2002. Preliminary
results indicated that in 31 parks, the soil samples exceed the federal
guidelines of 12 ppm and remedial action is proposed.

"We have full confidence in our sampling protocol and in the accuracy of our
results. The results are comprehensive and scientifically defensible," said
Claire Tucker-Reid, General Manager, Parks and Recreation. "In contrast, the
Environmental Defence Canada study on Toronto parks released today had taken
only a single sample and provided no details on whether the samples were
collected properly using recognized scientific methods."

The Toronto Parks and Recreation study included the sampling of soil in all 217
parks and City-owned child care centres. At each site, four soil samples were
collected - one composite soil sample taken from 10 locations directly under
the play structure, two soil samples in the playground area around the
structure, and one control sample taken 10 metres from the play structure.

The complete results of the City study, together with the recommended actions
and related budget implications, will be reported to the Budget Advisory
Committee on January 27 for Council decision in early February.

"It is important to point out that the risk of illness from exposure to
chemicals leaching from CCA treated wood is low," said Tucker-Reid. "However,
we recognize the concerns over CCA-wood play structures. That's why City
Council has adopted a pro-active and progressive approach."

The City has discontinued the use of CCA-treated wood in all playgrounds since
2001. Through the regular playground replacement program and the removal of
CCA-treated components, the number of CCA-treated play structures has also been
reduced from 259 to 217. In August 2002, when potential leachate problems were
identified at the High Park Adventure Playground, immediate remedial action was
undertaken.

"Physical activity is important for the healthy development of children," said
Tucker-Reid. "Our parks are safe and children should continue to use and enjoy
the play structures in our parks. Toronto residents should know that the safety
of users of parks and recreation facilities and programs has always been our
number one priority."

A fact sheet on CCA-pressured treated wood, prepared by Toronto Public Health,
is available on the City of Toronto Web site at http://www.toronto.ca/health.


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