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Selecting Safe Sandbox Materials

Selecting Safe Sandbox Materials

Many companies have precautions on sand packaging warning of the possibly harmful effects of crystalline silica exposure. Some of these sands are labeled for use in sandboxes. The inhalation of fine silica dust particles has been known to lead to cancer tumors in workers, such as sand blasters, who work with sand components daily and for long periods of time. The finer the sand, the greater the inhalation. The airborne small particles are the ones that get into the lungs and can cause problems.

Although children spend considerably less time in a sandbox and inhalation is not as great a factor, nevertheless, the best way to avoid this problem is to choose relative coarse sand with not much dust. Fine or dusty sand becomes a problem when children throw sand into the wind or simply throw sand. An added advantage of using the more coarse grain sand is that it will not stick as easily to little hands and be transferred to their eyes. Also, coarser sand is more easily removed from clothing and is tracked less from the sandbox into the home.

Sturdy plastic timbers for sandboxes are splinter and toxic free for safety. An added benefit of plastic timbers is no warping or rotting. Wood, if treated, should be treated with materials for durability but the treatment should not be harmful to humans. Untreated cedar and redwood are durable woods for sandboxes. Most sandbox and lumber manufacturers list these treated characteristics but if they do not, then ask.

Railroad ties should not be used as the border material for sandboxes. Railroad ties are treated with creosote that is not safe for children or adults. Creosote can be absorbed into the body through physical contact and is listed a human carcinogen.

Provide a proper bottom and cover

All sandbox bottoms should have a perforated liner that allows for water drainage but the holes should be small enough to prevent worms from getting into the sand. Options include a liner that comes with the sandbox or thick plastic sheeting on the bottom with a few poked holes.

A cover is necessary to protect the sand from yard and leaf debris, rain, neighbor cats and other animals. Options include hard covers as well as stretchable types. A cover that is easy to use will encourage covering the sandbox when the child is through playing in the sandbox.

In summary, parents have the responsibility to assure that not only that does their child have the opportunity for developing physical, cognitive and social skills through play in a sandbox, but also that the sandbox environment is safe and protects the childs health. Consider these points before finalizing your choices of the sandbox sand, the borders, and the top/bottom. Then safe play and development can begin!