Ministry acts after reports that synthetic surfaces are making children ill nationwide
China’s top education authorities are cracking down on so-called toxic running tracks on campuses nationwide to protect students’ health, the Ministry of Education said on its website on June 23.
“Any existing synthetic running tracks on campuses that are recognized by environmental protection and quality inspection departments as failing to meet quality standards will be removed immediately,” the ministry said.
It said it will work with other government departments to investigate newly renovated tracks during the summer vacation and suspend all the ongoing or planned construction of tracks at schools.
Synthetic running tracks have been to allegedly have made students ill at schools in a number of provinces and cities since last year, attracting widespread public attention.
Problems have been found in raw materials, production, contract bidding, installation and supervision.
Several government departments, including education, housing, environmental protection and quality inspection, have been involved in joint efforts to find solutions.
The Ministry of Education said the safety of students and their health is its top priority. It said it has paid great attention to the incidents since they were first reported last year and has conducted inspections, drafted regulations and revised standards.
The ministry said it will continue to cooperate with other departments to fix the problems to ensure that the tracks at schools meet standards.
Zhang Yinping, director of a Tsinghua University center that carries out tests on building environments, said the existing standards make no stipulation on monitoring or assessing air quality on the running tracks after construction or when renovation is completed, especially on hot, wet summer days.
“Experimental models should be set up to estimate the density of polluted air above the tracks in different weather conditions,” Zhang said.
“In addition, monitoring is also necessary during use to avoid new pollution.
“The best way to solve all these problems is to use pollution-free materials and additives when installing the tracks.”
The Ministry of Education said it will support schools in different areas in making construction plans for sports fields based on their geographical, climatic and financial situations.
“Synthetic running tracks will not be the only choice in the future,” the ministry said.
On June 23, authorities in Hebei province said that people working in small private enterprises in the province involved in producing running tracks that do not meet standards had been detained and an investigation is underway.