Published on April 7th, 2009 | by Amanda Peterka11
White House Playground Covered With Harmful Mulch, Says Environmental Group
Environment and Human Health contends that the used-tire mulch covering the playground causes skin and eye irritation and destroys mucus membranes, reports the Seattle Times. The group cites a review done by Sinai Hospital in New York in March that reported that playgrounds made from used tired tend to get very hot and can cause kids to get skin infections and inhale toxins and carcinogens.
A spokesperson for Michelle Obama, however, said they just followed recommendations from the National Recreation and Park Association, which in turn followed those from the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, which listened to the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association. The president of the latter “pointed to a series of studies in the U.S. and in Europe — which has reused scrap tires for much longer than the United States has — that show tires are safe,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
When I tried to do a simple Google search on used-tired mulch, I got conflicting results. The first site told me that it is “The Perfect Rubber Mulch for Playgrounds, Landscapes, and Equestrian.” The second site says it’s “deadly.” The rest of the results continue in much the same pattern. It’s either the miracle or murderous mulch, and not much in between.
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Should the Obamas be trusting something as seemingly contradictory as this for their young children? Cities have been using this mulch in parks for more than a decade now: Chicago carted in 30 tons of rubber mulch in the fall of 1998 to decorate its natural areas. The reasons for using the mulch are that it is heavier than wood chips, so it’s less likely to blow away, and it is, of course, made from recycled tires.
Unless children are rolling around in the stuff every day (then again, they might be), I don’t see much wrong with them merely running on the ground. The Obamas seem to agree.
Photo Credit: The White House playground, Rubber Mulch at Flickr under a Creative Commons License