A note from BND regarding the recent WNYC survey of lead levels in NYC Parks
Prospect Park is a magical place for all of us who crave nature while living in NYC. For BND in particular, it is a privilege to explore and learn in the park every day. The safety and well-being of the children in our care is always our ultimate priority. We are ever diligent in our research, practices, and policies to ensure we are consistently providing the safest environment possible for the children we serve.
A recent study by WNYC tested the levels of lead in the soil in Prospect Park. One area in particular, around the band shell on the west side, tested high for lead.
The full, original article published in May of 2019 by WNYC can be found here. It contains the most comprehensive report available of the findings.
There are currently varying expert opinions on acceptable/safe levels of lead in soil. Under the current EPA guidelines established in the 1990s, which are also used by New York State, anything above 400ppm (parts per million) is considered high. There is a now a proposal in New York State to lower the limit down to 150ppm. California currently uses a standard of 80ppm.
While the areas we frequent around the picnic house and on the Long Meadow all tested below the current EPA & NYS standards, there is one area, on the fields around the bandshell, which tested over the 400ppm level. While we have drop-off and pick-up near this area for our 9th st families, it is not an area we use for extended play.
What BND is doing:
•We have reached out to both the Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks Department to inquire the steps they are taking to:
A) ensure the safety of all who explore the park by testing and designating those areas that are safe for children to play in the sand and dirt, and limiting access to those areas that are not.
B) remedy and monitor soil that measures high for lead throughout the park
•We recently conducted our own qualitative tests on soil in 10 areas we regularly frequent throughout the park and NONE of them came back measuring above the current EPA standard.
•We now also use hand wipes specifically designed to remove lead and other heavy metals, along with dirt and germs, to clean off hands before eating. Designed under license from the CDC, they are designated safe for use on all ages, and use an anti-static compound called isostearamisopropyl morpholine lactate. Commonly used in cosmetics, it is rated low risk by the EWG (Environmental Working Group). In short, it is a negatively charged compound that attracts and pulls both the dirt and positively charged lead/heavy metals off of skin.
More information on the wipes can be found here: https://hygenall.com/faq/
Ingredients: Water, ethanol, isostearamisopropyl morpholine lactate, citric acid, fragrance.
What families can do:
•Advocate for testing of soil throughout city parks, as well as for standards of protection that best serve the public, especially children.
•Support the NYC Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance however you are able. While BND operates independently of the park, the Prospect Park Alliance in particular has always been welcoming and supportive of our groups of children, especially as we have grown. As Prospect Park is a public space we all share, BND has very little control over the environment, and we depend on both the NYC Parks Department and the Alliance to maintain a safe place for our kids to play and explore. The Prospect Park Alliance is constantly working to sustain and improve the natural environment, which is regularly impacted by the by-products of living in a large city.
•Consult your child's pediatrician to become fully educated on lead exposure in NYC and what you can do to keep your child healthy and safe. None of the current BND families who elected to have their children tested for lead received results above the standard deemed safe by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Brooklyn Nature Days believes passionately in the powerful benefits unstructured time in nature provides to children and we will continue to work diligently and tirelessly to keep the children we serve safe and well-cared for.
As always, thank you for sharing your tiny humans with us!