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KOMPAN to Equip Twister-Torn Town Playgrounds

Greensburg, Kansas after the May 4, 2007 tornado. Photo: Jaime Oppenheimer/The Wichita Eagle

On the evening of May 4, 2007, a tornado flattened about 95 percent of the small community of Greensburg in southwest Kansas. The tornado killed 11 of the 1,500 town residents and left nearly all of its citizens homeless.

Until the tornado, Greensburg was known for two things: the "world’s largest hand-dug well," a 109-foot deep well completed in 1888 that supplied the city with water until 1932; and home to a 1,000 pound meteorite. The space rock was in the town's museum, which was among the buildings destroyed.

Greensburg is committed to rebuilding with the most environmentally-friendly technology and building materials, including renovated city playgrounds. The city has selected KOMPAN as the supplier for Greensburg.

"We're so proud to be part of this amazing project," said Tom Grover, KOMPAN president. "The town is setting an important example for eco-friendly design and KOMPAN's products show we can extend that mission to the playground. We believe playgrounds should be as good for the environment as they are for the kids that use them."

KOMPAN, like some other manufacturers of playground equipment, are no longer using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic used in plumbing pipes. Many playground manufacturers have been using a softened form of PVC to coat metal parts. It is used for slip resistance, as an insulator--keeps metal from getting too hot or cold, for durability--and it is inexpensive.

However, in production, PVC releases dioxins, a carcinogen. Making PVC soft involves the use of phthalates, which have been linked to potential health hazards. Washington and California have recently passed legislation that will ban the sale of children's products if they contain phthalates in certain quantities. PVC is also harmful to the environment. Recycling PVC is difficult, and it usually ends up in landfills. (See "PVC on the Playground" in the Dec. 2007 LASN.)

KOMPAN reports their products have always been PVC and phthalates free. The company also recycles aluminum components, steel posts and high pressure laminate flooring and notes its products are manufactured from safe materials that can easily be recycled after a playground's life span. (Note: Recycled materials can be applied toward attaining LEED credits 4.1, 4.2, and 7.)

Powder coating paint is a common method of adding color to playground equipment. If or when these surface coatings get chipped, unless properly maintained, corrosion sets in on the exposed metal. KOMPAN's philosophy is to minimize the amount of paint on its equipment and instead use solid colored materials.

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October 15, 2019, 5:27 am PDT

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