Poured-In-Place Provides Proven Playground Safety

August 23, 2019

There’s good news when it comes to the safety of our nation’s playgrounds. The number of injuries treated in the ER resulting from falls from playground equipment in the United States is on the decline. One of the primary reasons this reduction in injuries is the increased attention focused on better and safer playground surfaces, such as Poured-in-Place (PIP) systems comprised of two types of rubber and two types of polyurethane. These components are mixed and troweled on site, forming a resilient surface that absorbs shock in place of active children who fall while playing.

With so much advancement and intentional product development to safeguard children at play, there are still those who draw premature, unsubstantiated conclusions, followed by bold, unqualified statements calling into question the safety of products like Pour-in-Place playground surfacing.

A recent letter, written by Nancy Alderman and published on Courant.com, is the latest example.

As President of Environment and Human Health in North Haven, Connecticut, Alderman boldly claims Poured-in-Place surfacing is to blame for the high level of lead found at three recently closed playgrounds in Washington D.C. While the manufacturers of the surface at the three playgrounds were not included with Alderman’s accusations, it’s important to consider a few key facts when determining the validity of her comments.

  • According to the EPA, the natural level of lead in soil is 50 to 400 ppm. In Alderman’s report, she makes no mention as to whether the soil was tested and possible factor in the lead level found at the Washington D.C. playgrounds.
  • Alderman also fails to support her written statement that “the closing of the Washington D.C. playgrounds show PIP systems using tire rubber were not tested for lead before the surfaces were installed.”
  • In independent testing by one leading PIP installer, the lead level found in rubber samples was 6 ppm, well below the naturally occurring level.
  • Earlier this year, several New York playgrounds without PIP surfacing tested high for lead. It was informally determined that lead paint on play equipment was to blame. Alderman makes no mention about the age or state of the equipment found on the playgrounds closed in Washington D.C. or Connecticut.

As the Founder and President of Surface America, I write on behalf of my colleagues within Poured-in-Place industry. Our job is to create safe environments for our children and grandchildren to play in. To do so, we use quality materials, we test and re-test the components found within our systems, and we continually ask questions to make sure our facts are always right.

Here are the facts that fall under my areas of responsibility on this topic: 3 of the 4 components used in the Surface America’s PIP surfacing have zero lead in the material, and the 4th as shared above, has 6 ppm, which, again, is significantly below the naturally occurring levels.

We ask Nancy Alderman and all people communicating on this subject to let the facts drive the message, not an “emotional feeling” that’s unsubstantiated by science and misleads readers and decision makers on what is factually true.

Jim Dobmeier
President & Founder
Surface America, Inc.