We have been speaking for years on the topic of playground safety as each year more than 200,000 children are taken to the emergency room as result of an accident or fall on the playground. Nearly 70 percent of these injuries are the result of falls, rather than equipment-related. In addition, recent studies have indicated that approximately 80 percent of all playgrounds have unsuitable or unsafe surfacing or ground cover and only 9 percent of home playgrounds have the proper surfacing.
Because of these injuries, parents, school officials, municipalities, daycares and homeowners across the country began to inquire about and install the safest playground surface available today, recycled rubber mulch. The numbers do not lie, and if safety is a priority there is no other product that even comes close to protecting our children better than rubber mulch.
Not only is rubber mulch the safest playground surface, rubber mulch has perhaps gone through more testing than all other products combined. There have been more than 90 studies, many peer-reviewed, that have tested recycled rubber and have determined that there are no increased risks. Some unfounded statements say we should all just go back to natural soil for all of our play needs. But is natural grass and soil truly the answer? You may be surprised…
Rubber that is used in tires is highly regulated and tested – it is consistently the same no matter what state you live in or from what car you drive. The soil around us and has seen thousands of years of contaminants and pollutants introduced during that time. Say you are a family that has always dreamed of owning that Victorian house on the hill that is more than a century old. Your children can run and play in the expansive yard while you relax in the peaceful bliss of suburbia. Not so fast. That dream home was painted for years with lead paint and over time Mother Nature has released that lead into what is 10 times the acceptable level in your soil. This was recently discovered by a family in California. Just last month a park in Ohio was forced to remove and clean more than 14,000,000 pounds of soil from a small park due to lead contamination in the soil. This month near a yacht club in Massachusetts a park was closed due to alarming lead and arsenic levels in the soil. The possible source? Tiny particles from decades of cars when leaded gas was used to get from here to there.
Soil has only been looked at when an issue arises but never as a standard course of study. Those who choose natural grass over recycled rubber have every right to do so as that is their choice. We however would like to encourage everyone to make an informed decision and read portions of the 90 studies before coming to a conclusion. At the very least, if natural grass in your play areas in the option, please test the soil and share as sometimes all natural may be anything but.
If you think about it for a moment, we rode bikes with rubber tires as children and as adults we drive cars with rubber tires. We all made out alright and so will generations to come according to the extensive research already conducted. If you have questions or would like additional facts about recycled rubber products please visit www.recycledrubbercouncil.org.