Rubber Playground Chips & Alternatives

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15 April 2013

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‘Tis the season to refresh the playground.

Thoughts on rubber mulch and why to use an alternative:

#1 The smell! For about the first year, it’s intolerable! Is breathing in rubber stench I mean smell the best we can give our children’s lungs?

#2 Here is a list of what a typical tire is made up of (source:, which of these products sound like you want your child playing in them?

  • acetone
  • aniline
  • arsenic
  • barium
  • benzene
  • benzothiazole
  • cadmium
  • chloroethane
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • copper
  • halogenated flame retardants
  • isoprene
  • latex
  • lead
  • manganese
  • mercury
  • methyl ethyl ketone
  • methyl isobutyl ketone
  • naphthalene
  • nickel
  • nylon
  • phenol
  • pigments
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • polyester
  • rayon
  • styrene – butadiene
  • toluene
  • trichloroethylene

#3 On a sunny/warm day, mulch temperatures can reach beyond 100 degrees, do you really want your children breathing in the smell of hot decomposing tires or rubber fill as they are called in marketing materials? The smell beyond what is mentioned in number 1 above.

#4 The color of the mulch, particularly the darker colors rubs off and stain clothes and hands. Do you really need to do more laundry?

#5 Oh, you want something other than black (the tires real color), well let’s add some chemical compounds in to dye the decomposing rubber tires and make them pretty, yet toxic. No thank you.

#6 Rubber mulch is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once it is burning.

#7 Rubber mulch is not non-toxic; it contains a number of metal and organic contaminants with
known environmental and/or human health effects.

#8 Rubber mulch is not as effective as other organic mulch choices in controlling weeds.

#9 Tires are considered by the State of CT to be the leading cause of mosquito breeding grounds other than waterways. West Nile anyone?

#10 Rubber mulch does not decompose and can not easily be moved by a leaf blower. When something like a dirty bandaid or piece of metal is in there, no one can see it.

What alternatives are out there?

Original Article

2 responses on “Rubber Playground Chips & Alternatives

  1. Barbara says:

    My previous weed issues are for the most part gone since I installed about one and one-half inches of rubber mulch over a fabric weed barrier. I knew my plants would be healthier and happier once protected with mulch and with the flower bed being around the foundation of my home I did not want to use wood mulch and have to deal with pests, fungi, etc. So, rubber mulch was the best way to go for me and I could not be happier with the results

    I do not believe your claim of rubber mulch color coming off on clothing. I have never had this happen in any kind of weather and any kind of situation. Also, the metal is removed in the processing, and that is especially true for playground rubber mulch. All metal from the steel belts in the tires has to be removed before a product can be marketed for playground use.

    I do not have a problem with varying opinions but I do not care to hear comments made without adequate research or personal experience with a product. If your position requires that you make statements without facts to back them up, your position is based on lies, which makes your opinion worthless.

  2. Tara says:

    My son plays on this toxic garbage everyday and he comes up with his Ankles, Feet and hands stained black. not to mention his clothes. Barbara maybe you should go roll around in it to see what we are talking about.

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