Outdoor Shaded Play Structures and Surfaces

Why is this important?

Choosing natural materials for outdoor play structures and surfaces can help connect children with nature and contribute to environmental sustainability. Take caution with pressure-treated wood, which contains potentially harmful chemicals. This is especially important for play structures built prior to 2004 when CCA-treated wood (which contains arsenic) was in common use. Permeable surfaces, such as natural turf, help prevent rainwater run-off that can contribute to erosion and flooding.

What actions can we take?

  • Take steps to reduce children’s exposure to chemicals in pressure-treated wood.
    • Use table cloths and avoid placing food service items directly on any treated wood surface.
    • Ensure that any play equipment made of chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood (built before 2004) is treated with a penetrating sealant.
  • Opt for natural play structures rather than plastic. Consider using natural objects, such as rocks and logs, and varied terrain to create engaging play spaces rather than relying on structures made of treated wood or plastic.
  • Choose natural permeable surfaces, such as native grasses or groundcover, to prevent rainwater run-off that can contribute to erosion and flooding while helping reduce heat stress.
  • Ensure that children always wash their hands with soap and warm water when returning inside and before eating to reduce exposure to contaminants

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