Rubber mulch, since its introduction, has rapidly become the nation's number one selection for children's playground surfacing, both private and public. This is due to its incredible variety of benefits, ranging from an almost endless color spectrum to its extremely forgiving composition when fallen on by children. There is, however, a range of safety issues that have arisen due to the studies carried out by a number of scientists who oppose this new rubber mulch craze.
1. Impact Issues
Whilst playgrounds are viewed as a joyful haven for children by both parents and kids alike, they are also one of the most common places that a child will seriously injure themselves in the first five years of their life. Taking this into account, it is easy to see why there is so much concern following the introduction of rubber mulch as the nation's primary surfacing agent. An experiment conducted provided valid evidence that rubber mulch provides almost twice the impact allowance as wood chips, plastic mulch or other surfacing agents when a six-inch layering is used.
2. Chemical Concerns
Another recent study has shown that whilst stated to be entirely free of hazardous toxins, rubber mulch is actually prone to a significantly high zinc level. This is unsafe for children playing in these areas, who may ingest or simply come into too much contact with these rubber mulch chips. The presence of benzene and other phthalates in rubber mulch that has been tested provides us with a new cause for concern, as the effect of these chemicals on our children is not something we wish to discover first-hand. Even though rubber mulch used in playgrounds has to pass multiple chemical tests, it is still a worry surrounding a material that has been widely promoted as containing zero toxins. The dye, if applied cheaply, has also been noted to run during spells of hot weather.
3. Density Drawbacks
Whilst providing a high quality impact surfacing for playgrounds in normal weather, there have been tests that show rubber mulch to be anything but perfect for surfacing as soon as the weather takes a turn for worse. In hot weather, the rubber chips have been shown to absorb high levels of sunlight, providing an unnecessarily hot surface for your children to fall onto. On the other hand, rubber mulch has been proven to take on an incredibly hard covering when the weather is substantially cold. This provides two unpleasant outcomes for your child if playing in the middle of summer or winter. During phases of high wind, rubber mulch has also been seen to blow away in a far greater manner than it's heavier alternative, wood bark chips.
4. Other Issues
On top of these issues, rubber mulch has also been confirmed to be highly flammable and hard to extinguish once alight. The chips may also produce an oily, unpleasant substance when subject to high levels of heat that is harmful to human skin. Aside from its incredible absorption capabilities, it seems that many safety factors were overlooked during the massive popularity rise of rubber mulch in children's playgrounds.