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Letter: Parents Voice Turf Concerns

Letter to the Editor

We are the parents of Leonardo (Leo) Santaballa after whom the park behind the Great Falls Library is named.

For more than a year, our 12-year-old boy, loved for his sense of humor and passion for soccer, had waited patiently for the only thing that could save his life: a new set of lungs. Even as he gasped for breath, his lungs failing because of a rare disease, cause unknown, he remained hopeful. He lost the battle almost 18 years ago.

His classmates, teachers and parents from Great Falls Elementary school, as well as all the children and parents from Great Falls participating in the soccer, lacrosse and basketball leagues, and Dr. Ralph Lazaro, petitioned that the park be named after Leo. And so it was.

Now we read with dismay, that again there is the intention to make the turf field at Leo Santaballa Park of crumb rubber from old tires [Article, "Great Falls Talks Turf," Connection, May 16-22]. As you may know, old tires contain lead, arsenic and many other hazardous chemicals that will go into our water table. But even worse, our children will be playing in a harmful field.

The chronic arsenic exposure, to name one of the chemicals in old tires, induces high oxidative stress, which may affect the structure and function of cardiovascular system. Further, the arsenic exposure has been noted to induce atherosclerosis by increasing the platelet aggregation and reducing coagulation. Moreover, arsenic exposure may cause arrhythmia.

Would you like our children to be exposed to this and other dangerous chemicals? Definitely, we do not want any more fatally sick children in Great Falls. We hope you agree with us and help us stop this farfetched idea.

José R. Santaballa

R. Elena Santaballa

Great Falls