July 23, 2021

Is Rubber Mulch a Safe Surface for Your Child’s Playground?

The public playground in Bandon, a small town on the blustery coast of Oregon, has everything a kid could want. Swings and an orange, twisting slide, even a bright blue boat.

But after the playground was installed in 2009, some mothers became concerned about the springy black stuff beneath their children’s feet. In addition to the new equipment, the playground was outfitted with the latest in safety surfacing: a pool of shredded rubber from old tires, also known as “rubber mulch,” which can cushion kids’ falls better than gravel or wood chips.

Vanesza Farmer said she struggled to keep her daughter –- who was learning to walk at the time — from putting tire crumbs in her mouth. “My kids would just be tainted in black,” she said. “Their clothes would be black. And I just knew, this isn’t healthy.”

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