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Green Playgrounds: The Safe Way to Go

By Whirl Construction (507 words)
Posted in Commercial Playgrounds on September 20, 2012

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Old Playgrounds are Dangerous and Toxic

Local children’s playgrounds are welcoming recent transformations, as research shows that many of the old neighborhood playgrounds are constructed from dangerous materials. When the play sets wear out, the usual practice was to replace the set by purchasing the exact equipment over and over again. Playground management has always done this, never realizing the dangers that were involved for the children who played on it. Here is a list of the basic components of a playground made in 2004 and the toxins found in them:

Wooden structures are treated to make it waterproof, but the solution contains CCA, a type of arsenic. This poison can be absorbed through small children’s sensitive skin very easily and CCA is a carcinogen. 

  • Rubber mulch emits VOC’s, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals, which are carcinogenic. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazards has detected 49 other toxins that are omitted from these materials.
  • Play sand is actually not sand at all, but tiny asbestos pieces.
  • Maintenance personnel are instructed to spray the landscape with pesticides. This is extremely harmful for young children.

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Safety First: Building Green Playgrounds

Keeping children safe and healthy, while giving them space to play and have fun, have compelled local communities to build green playgrounds. Many are springing up in communities across the country, including neighborhood playgrounds and school playgrounds.

Updating Existing Playgrounds

Replacing the out-dated and toxic materials to build a sustainable green playground is only a matter of using natural materials that allow the kids to play freely and without harm. The first and best solution is to purchase all new sustainable equipment for the green playground, but there are several ways to improve an existing playground.

To begin improving the playgrounds in your community with safe, sustainable components, here is a list of steps to use. Choose all, or work on one at a time:

  • Swap the parts of the play set that children touch the most frequently, like the handrails and steps, with untreated lumber. Every year re-seal it with water-based latex paint to hold the CCA’s in.
  • Remove all play sand, and replace with real beach sand. Real sand can be found online and in many garden stores.
  • Remove all shredded rubber and replenish the area with untreated wood chips or pea gravel. It is highly recommended to refill nine inches deep for better absorption and to prevent serious injuries.
  • Pesticides are toxic and dangerous, so find alternatives. Remove all unnecessary bush and plants that attract pests. Replace synthetic pesticides with organic varieties and consider putting corn gluten meal on the grass to prevent bug growth. 

Any neighborhood playground can be transformed by using these sustainable steps. The eco-friendly components are reasonably priced, and if communities would band together, the children would be able to play safely and parents would have no worries.

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