With a variety of products available for playground surfacing, it may be difficult to determine which products are safe and effective. From pea gravel to rubber mulch, there are many products out there to choose from. Many do not meet the safety standards that parents, teachers, and recreational departments have come to expect.
Pea Gravel and Wood Chips
While natural, both pea gravel and wood chips have safety issues. Pea gravel requires a depth of nine inches to protect from a five-foot fall. Playground equipment tends to be higher than five feet, so pea gravel will not offer the protection needed for falls. Pea gravel can be a choking hazard to young children, and the small rocks can get stuck inside a curious child’s nose or ears. Pea gravel can also hide dangerous objects, such as broken glass, beneath its surface.
Like pea gravel, wood chips have many of the same disadvantages. They can end up in the mouths, ears, and noses of young children and can get kicked around, causing an uneven coverage of the play area. They harbor insects and pests, making the area unsanitary and, possibly, dangerous. When wet, wood chips create the perfect environment for microbial growth, causing an unhealthy environment for children.
Rubber mulch is made from recycled tires that contain black carbon, a carcinogen. Rubber mulch also emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), organic compounds that can be easily turned into vapors and can negatively impact the health of humans who breathe them in.
The small rubber pieces from rubber mulch, like pea gravel and wood chips, can also be consumed by young children causing a choking hazard as well as the ingestion of dangerous chemicals.
Are you looking for a playground cover that is both safe and appealing to the eye? Grass Mats have been tested and offer impact protection from falls of ten feet or more. The mats come in 5ft x 3.3ft squares, so they do not pose a choking hazard to young children. While offering protection from falls, Grass Mats also allows grass to continue to grow, giving your backyard playground, school playground, or park playground a natural, safe feel.
Unlike pea gravel, wood chips, and rubber mulch, Grass Mats are wheelchair accessible and meet ADA standards. When installed, they create a surface that is easily maneuverable for parents pushing strollers.