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Keeping Play Equipment Safe & Clean

By Andy Ansell, www.RoSPA.com, parks technician






Sand is a low-tech but enduring medium for creative play. Sand should be treated and disinfected regularly, however.


A range of chemicals and pesticides are used on children's playgrounds for general weed control and cleanliness. This column outlines some uses and products.

The past several years have seen a dramatic rise in concern over the use of pesticides in parks and schools in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere. A number of legislative bills that would restrict their use around children are pending in several states in the U.S. At the federal level, the School Environment Protection Act is currently before the House of Representatives.

Weed Control for Safety

Weed control is required in play areas to reduce trip hazards and certain types of long-term maintenance costs. Glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup are usually employed which have fewer health concerns associated with them.

Weeds and Grasses in Hard Surfaces

Suitable herbicide (weed control) products include those based on the active ingredient glyphosate which is non-toxic, short-lived and bio-degradable. Suggested brands include Roundup-Pro Biactive and Roundup-Pro.

Weeds and Grasses in bark and Loose-Fill Material

Suitable herbicides include glyphosate. Suggested brands include Roundup-Pro Biactive and Roundup-Pro.






This play structure is in the process of being installed in a park in Enterprise, Ala. Note the dirt surface; a layer of cushioning sand or approved padded surface will be installed for safety.


Algae

Algae on timber, metal and a variety of surfaces, can be a problem. In Europe, the EU no longer recommends the use of chemicals to treat this. Power washing is recommended (but test a small area for surface stability first).

Hygiene

A cleansing treatment for sand pits is recommended. A suitable disinfectant would be 250ml of domestic bleach mixed with 20 liters of water and apply to a depth of 25mm of the sand pit surface. This should be applied by watering can with a fine rose. The sand pit must then be irrigated to a depth of 100mm with clean water using a sprinkler attachment after bleaching.

If excessive animal fouling occurs on bark and other timber loose-fill areas the affected area must be removed, disposed of and replaced.

Where animal or human fouling occurs in enclosed play equipment a suitable disinfectant for treatment after feces have been removed is normal household disinfectant diluted at the manufacturers recommended rate.

Where animal or human fouling occurs on solid surfaces a suitable disinfectant for treatment after feces have been removed is normal household disinfectant diluted at the manufacturers recommended rate.

Insects and Pest Control

It is suggested where insects and pest problems occur a specialist pest control company is consulted – these can be located through the Yellow Pages, etc. The exception is superintendents and others trained and properly certified in pest control application.

Spraying

A set of cautious guidelines should be followed for all pesticide and herbicide applications. These include the following:

  • Obtain advice from a registered professional on
    chemicals and methods.
  • Only use recommended approved chemicals.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Ensure children are off-site and kept away for the recommended safety period.
  • Clean all equipment used.
  • Use protective clothing.



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December 10, 2019, 7:54 pm PDT

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