Health concerns about using rubber mulch on residential swing set play area

Health concerns about using rubber mulch on residential swing set play area

As a recent report shows, more than 300 million discarded tires are generated every year in the United States alone. A percentage of these tires are recycled and ground up into crumbs to be used in gardening and playground areas as a safety fall surface.
When I first came in contact with rubber mulch, as it is called by the industry, I thought it was the best material available for fall cushioning and I was recommending it to all my customers due to its softness and choices of colors.
A few years passed and I read an article about the football fields closing at the Rutgers University in New Jersey over concerns about the newly installed rubber turf and health problems involving some athletes and players that had been using the field. A few students were getting seriously sick from the contact to the rubber crumbs in the field.
The green synthetic turf itself wasn’t causing any harm to the players, however, what was underneath the turf was causing all the problems. Small pea size rubber crumbs that have been used to help with drainage, soften the field and protect the players in case of a fall, were rising to the surface, getting airborne as the students were playing on it and were being inhaled by the players.
As a cushioning material in commercial and residential playgrounds, the rubber mulch will do the same as it did at Rutgers and I am warning all the parents not to buy or let your children play on such material before making their own research on the internet. There has been many reports by healthy agencies and TV news over these danger and you only have to make a search on the internet to find many of those reports and videos.

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Sources:

http://www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/health_effects.shtml

http://center4research.org/child-teen-health/early-childhood-development/caution-children-at-play-on-potentially-toxic-surfaces/

http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20160310/forum-new-analysis-of-rubber-mulch-in-playgrounds-shows-presence-of-heavy-metals

https://www.facebook.com/Ban-Rubber-Mulch-on-Playgrounds-133023466717291/

Swing set: Buying new or used?

Swing set: Buying new or used?

Whenever you think about buying a swing set for your kids you, probably, encounter the same dilemma lots of people do: Buying a brand new, out of the box swing set or buying a used one from sites like Craigslist or your local newspaper ads.

Buying a brand new, good quality, swing set can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when you consider the size, accessories, quality and add the costs of installation and backyard preparation. The advantage of buying a new swing set is that it comes with the manufacturer warranty, installers labor warranty, brand new hardware and all the good smell of a brand new product that is going to be assembled faster and trouble-free, assuming you have a flat area for it.

Buying a used set, though, is a bit tricky because that are lots of things to check before making a decision. It’s almost as buying a used car or an old house.
My advice is that you should never buy a used swing set on the internet without making a physical inspection for the integrity of the wooden components and all the hardware. If you make a trip to the seller’s house, bring some tools with you such as screwdrivers, a wrench with a few size nuts ( 3/8, 1/2, 9/16 and 3/4 inch are the most common sizes for swing sets) a set of Allen and torx wrenches and a pair of pliers.
✓ Check at the pieces that are buried in the ground for rot and decay by inserting a flat screwdriver in the wood to verify how rotten they are;
✓ Check for big cracks in the wood that could affect the strength and cause injuries to your children;
✓ Look for rusted bolts and nuts and make sure they can be taken apart and if they don’t move it’s going to be almost impossible to disassemble the swing set without damaging the wood;
✓ If the set has a wooden roof, check for damage or missing pieces. Canvas tarp can be replaced easily;
✓ Check underneath the swing beam for carpenter bees holes and for bigger holes in the front and back of it which are signs of woodpecker damage;
✓ Check the swings for chain rust or frayed ropes and in most cases can be fixed or replaced;
✓ Climb, carefully, on the deck and check it for strength. if it flexes too much, it needs to be replaced or, at least, reinforced;

Take detailed pictures of all the damaged areas and other parts that are not so great and show them to the seller as this might lower the price considerably.
You can, also, send the pictures to a handyman or a professional installer like me for an evaluation. Even the swing sets that were well taken care of with regular maintenance have rotten pieces unless they were installed in a very dry backyard.

The final cost to disassemble, move and reassemble a used swing set will be much higher of a new set because of all the labor and transportation involved.

Sometimes there are great used swing sets for sale on the internet and local ads and it should be up to you to decide if it is worth the effort and extra money to get it from the seller’s backyard to yours.

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A few things to consider when buying a swing set

A few things to consider before you buy a new swing set:

Having a swing set in the backyard for their children is probably every parent’s dream. They provide a great way for the kids to exercise and develop strength, balance, use their creative imagination and increase their resistance against many types of allergies, but there are some things to consider before buying.

•Pricing:
Since most young families today live on a tight budget, pricing is a major factor when you start planning for your swing set as they can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a basic set, up to several thousands for more elaborate set with many features.

•Safety:
While safety may not be in the thoughts of children minds, safety is definitely a primary concern. Each year, more than 200,000 children go to the emergency room with injuries associated with playground equipment. Most are related to falls from the equipment to the ground. Many can be easily prevented. Items to check include the hardware; are there any open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends? Does the equipment have any sharp edges or points? Are there any spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guard rails or between steps rungs? Does the play set have any metal accessories (slides, monkey bars, etc.) made of any metals that can reach temperatures high enough to cause serious contact burn when used? Different swing sets and manufacturers offer different safety features so check them out thoroughly before buying. Check the children clothing and shoes before they go on the swing set. Loose strings, loops and shoe laces are a major cause of injuries. Keep the play area, around the swing set free of tree roots that can cause falls, any kind of debris that doesn’t belong there and cover holes or grooves left by any previous swing set or other structure.

•Backyard layout:
The size, slope and layout of your backyard will be a factor into your final decision. You do not want a play set that overpowers the layout of your yard, but instead compliments your yard and overall home appeal. In short, you want the right fit for the size of your yard. Also, it is important that you have enough level space suited for a swing set. If your yard is rocky or sloping in several places, you may need to landscape or level that section of the yard prior to assembling the unit. Consider other issues such as drainage and the type of material that will be used under and around the play set. In other words, is grass adequate for breaking any potential spills? Should you pad the surface with mulch, pea gravel, shredded rubber or some other kind of cushioning material? With statistics showing us that 70 percent of play set injuries are caused by falls to the ground, the type of impact-absorbing surface that you have under the play set is definitely an important consideration and the pricing for it should also be a factor because they can add to the cost considerably.

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