June 2012

Some Oak Park Ballfields are Dangerous to People's Health.

Oak Park Girls Playing through a Dust event present through most of the game.
  Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc. photo
commentary by Ed Vincent

The photo above is a bit reminiscent of photos taken in  the United States in the west of  the  old dust bowl era.  None of the coaches we spoke with on the day of this game had any idea of why there is no grass in the area where the kids play.  Every major ballpark in this country had grass in most of the areas of play.  We can afford to rebuild, re-fence, repave, many if not all of our parks, while the playing fields for the young are left in shambles.

Not having grass in the infield and then having sand that is fine it can be brought to the lungs of people is double bad.  If grass were added and the sand were replaced with a heavier mix things would be fine.

This is what it can look like during a game....
  Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc. photo

The information below was taken from various governmental agencies with advice about dust in the air, the kind that you can see.  In some of our parks where children play ball, and in neighborhoods with other residents who have heart disease, asthma, and COPD no name a few maladies.

Dust and respiration

Dust particles vary in size from coarse (non-inhalable), to fine (inhalable),
to very fine (respirable).

Coarse dust particles generally only reach as far as the inside of the nose, mouth or throat. Smaller or fine particles can, however, get much deeper into the sensitive regions of the respiratory tract and lungs. These smaller dust particles have a greater potential to cause serious harm to your health.

Exposure and health effects

The most common symptoms experienced during a dust storm are irritation to the eyes and upper airways.

People who may be most vulnerable are:

infants and young children

the elderly

people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema

people with heart disease.

For these people, exposure to  dust in the winds may:

trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks
cause serious breathing-related problems
contribute to cardiovascular or heart disease
contribute to reduced life span.

Prolonged exposure to airborne dust can lead to chronic breathing and lung problems, and possibly heart disease.

Health precautions

Avoid outdoor activity. If you must go outside spend as little time outside as possible avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma or a breathing-related condition stay indoors, with windows and doors closed
stay in air-conditioned premises, if possible and ensure regular maintenance of air conditioner filters.

If you are an asthmatic or have a respiratory condition and you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing or chest pain, follow your prescribed treatment plan.

If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice.

This is a photo taken on a game day, the one from the above photo with the girl in the field.
  Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc. photo

Before another game the diamond is leveled with a tractor, sending dust into the neighborhood.
  Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc. photo

The man driving the tractor has no mask on, I would think that the Village would insist on his protecting himself for reasons of health and risk management.

Email Oak Park Parks Board About Adding Grass Like a Regular Ballpark.

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