In 2009, the U.S. News & World Report published a report about a growing health risk: the presence of arsenic on school playgrounds. The report cited a study by Tulane University in New Orleans, which had tracked 38 playgrounds and found arsenic in the soil of more than one-third of them. The article also noted the most common source of arsenic at playgrounds: wood chips, or bark, spread around the play structures.
This issue is not just sequestered to the United States. The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency offers an Information Sheet online that discusses timber treated with CCA (or Copper Chromium Arsenic). The document acknowledges that, over time, arsenic can leach out of this treated timber and into the soil. This phenomenon is not limited to bark, but also happens with fences, gazebos, playground equipment, walkways and more.
The EPA also acknowledged that arsenic is a known neurotoxin and human carcinogen. The agency did not explicitly say that treated timber and the chemicals it leaches into the soil are dangerous since arsenic does not leach rapidly or in high concentrations. Still, the EPA did state that ‘it would be prudent to avoid unnecessary exposure to arsenic,’ if possible.
Choosing a Different Bark Supplier for Playground Projects in Auckland
The bottom line is this: while treated timber may not pose a huge health risk, it certainly poses more of a risk than timber that does not contain arsenic or other harmful chemicals. This statement is particularly true for playgrounds, as children tend to be especially susceptible to the dangerous of toxic chemicals.
At Goodwood, we believe that these reasons are motivation enough to steer away from using CCA treated timber in children’s playgrounds—either for bark or play structures. With this thought in mind, we offer an alternative type of bark in Auckland that is perfect as the foundation for chemical free playgrounds.
This Auckland bark is called ‘Goodfall’ and is an engineered playground surfacing product that we hope will mark the next generation of children’s parks and playgrounds. We manufacture Goodfall bark from specifically chosen untreated timber, with the goal of creating something that is more kid and environmentally friendly. Goodfall by Goodwood is a certified product that meets all Ministry of Education guidelines for Playground Surfacing Safety.
Make Playground Safer, Starting Today
Kids are the future: from school buildings to playgrounds and beyond, they deserve facilities that are safe, certified and healthy. The EPA doesn’t know for sure if leaching wood from bark and play structures represents a long-term health danger, but is it work the risk to wait and find out for sure? The answer, of course, is no. We need to start being proactive and do what the EPA says is prudent: minimising exposure to arsenic, especially for kids.
As an untreated bark supplier in Auckland, Goodwood is playing a role. If you are spearheading a playground or park project, play your role by buying bark from our Auckland branch, instead of using a supplier that uses CCA treated timber.