High lead levels found in rubber playground surfaces

Rubber surface material on playgrounds may be exposing children to unsafe lead levels, according to a recent study.

Researchers examined lead levels in the soil, sand, mulch, or rubber surfaces in 28 Boston playgrounds. They found that rubber surfaces often had lead levels that averaged two or three times higher than levels in the other materials, according to a May 7, 2019 Reuters article. High lead levels were also found in many of the soil surfaces, although soil was typically located at the edges of playgrounds, outside main play areas, according to the study.

“Playgrounds use a variety of materials to protect children against injuries,” said Nick Arisco, a doctoral student in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study. “However, we should always consider the full suite of health effects associated with materials that children come into contact with.”

There is no safe blood lead level in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even low levels have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement.

Read the Reuters article: Rubber playground surfaces may contain high lead levels