The danger (or lack thereof) of rubber mulch

<cue sitcom theme music>
I’m on the East coast. My sis-in-law is on the West coast. She’s a hippie through-and-through, but claims she’s not. I’m every stereotype that applies to a middle class East coast suburbanite.

So I lay 10,000 pounds of rubber mulch around a swing set. I post a status update on Facebook reflecting that. Sis-in-law sees message. She replies:

I’ve got thick skin. The buttinsky doesn’t bother me. In fact, being an East coast stereotype, I’m quite used to it. But is there something to this? Is rubber mulch dangerous in some way like she’s implying?

I suppose outgassing from some kinds of rubber might conceivably be dangerous in an enclosed space, but out in the open? Not a chance. Meanwhile, it’s free of the splinter risk that you’d have with wood mulch.

If there was a health hazard with the stuff, the company that makes it, the store that sells it, and the cities that use it in their playgrounds would have been sued up the ying yang. Tell your sister to quit smoking those banana peels and let your kids have a save romp in the rubber.

That’s a lot of mulch!
According to this, enough to fill a 27 X 27’ X 6" hole.

I’ve been using it as a substrate for all my reptiles for well over a year with no apparent ill effects. Most of my herps are in the room I also sleep in, and I don’t appear to be any worse for wear either.

I took “Don’t you guys have health insurance for your kids?” to mean that you are being over-protective by getting rubber mulch. As in, “Why don’t use just have grass? That’s all we had as kids and we turned out fine.”

it’s a 30x30 area with a 5x20 cutout.

This is the set I got. When you start extending safe areas around the set, you wind up with the monstrosity I created.

that’s how I took it too, but I think she was implying that a broken arm was fixed with insurance. IIRC, she doesn’t have insurance (though her kid does). Even if it were just a broken arm, I’d have gone with the rubber, but it’s worse than that. It’s a 7’ fall from head-to-ground. That’s spinal injury & death height.

That’s pretty sweet looking, maybe even a little nicer than the President’s swing set.

The wood & construction is better on mine. B’s has more goodies. I gotta go get some more goodies for my set. I just put a bike horn on one side. I pointed it at the neighbor’s house… the one with the kids who drink alcohol behind their shed and then pitch the bottles into my yard.

How long did it take before anyone knew that asbestos was dangerous and started suing?

I’m not taking an opinion on whether or not rubber mulch is dangerous, just that not being sued doesn’t mean anything.

The MSDS on cured rubber is GRAS, or generally recognized as safe. Uncured rubber is a bit different.

Dog toys made of rubber pass through the system and come out as undigestible matter i.e. they come out as they went in.

The biggest danger of rubber mulch is the wire bits from the steel belts in the tires it is made of. It is available in several grades. The playground grade stuff has virtually no wire in it, so if you ponied up the bucks for the right material, there is virtually no danger.

As for VOCs, the plasticizers in tires don’t come to the surface if not constantly flexed. This results in “dry rot” on car and trailer tires that sit unused. Basically the surface passivates and stops outgassing in a few months.

This sounds like political posturing, but we’ll see.

Government rethinking playground risks

I did some research and this is what I found.
And check this out, extensive bibliograpy from a multitude of sources
Someone suggested I try recycled rubber mulch they sell at Home Depot. I checked online and even the photo on the HD website shows little wire bits sticking out of the pieces. I can’t imagine using it except in a garden space where you dont walk on it. I think there is a more solid form of reclycled rubber tires used in playgrounds that comes in pretty colours.

Rubber Mulch has physico-sorptive properties. It absorbs the waxy outer layer of zombies causing them to die from dehydration. It’s recommended to place a 6" band of rubber mulch around your property to protect your home from zombie invasion.

Frankly, those websites look agenda-driven. Did you come across any unbiased cites in your “research”?

There’s a company in St. Paul: JJV rubber mulch, that makes it from various non-tire rubber scrap that’s mainly used as playgrounds. There’s zero (not a little) wire and non of the toxins that tend to build up on tires are present.