I received a question from Kristy routed through Twitter and it’s one that’s perfect to talk about this time of year when parents are loving the sunshine and going out to purchase new sand for sandboxes. All children love sandboxes and it’s such a wonderful activity right? I had no idea that many brands/types of sand that you purchase for a kid’s sandbox is not only toxic, but a carcinogen! Two questions you need to ask when purchasing play sand: does the sand contain Crystalline silica or asbestos? The ingredient crystalline silica found in most play sand can cause lung disease such as silicosis and are small enough to get trapped in lung tissue. The problem with traditional play sand is it’s not made from natural sand, but produced with quarried quartz rocks. The Safe Sand Company makes a great point on their website with a fantastic eco consumer tip:
“Ask your local supplier, FIRST, for their MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) report. Look for the label: “Not labeled for sale in California.” You have a right to know if someone is selling you a known carcinogen and the EPA and OSHA have done great work in protecting workers from inhaling certain kinds of dusts: eg. crystalline silica. Most sand sellers have a MSDS online so you can check and see.”
Asbestos tremlite is a form of asbesto that is linked to lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. What some of you might not know is the state of California labels any products that contains carcinogen ingredients with this tag:
Isn’t that brilliant? What parent is going to purchase something that has this label attached to it? This is the tag that would come attached to any play sand sold in California that contains crystalline silica so it’s a great tip for all consumers to check MSDS sheets online to see if any product is exempt from being sold in California. Safe sand is located in the US which is great for my readers that live in the States, but they actually buy their sand from a Canadian company called Sandtastik and they make locating places to purchase non-toxic sand easy with their Store Locator tool. They make it easy for parents so we don’t have to spend hours reading ingredients or asking at the big box stores to see MSDS sheets (which would be an exercise in complete frustration at most!). Safe Sand also recommends pea gravel as a great alternative for a child’s sandbox. It can be found at garden stores and you should look for dust-free, washed and sterilized pea gravel.
It seems everyday I’m learning that something new is toxic. I’m trying to embrace this knowledge rather that losing myself in fear which would be easy to do. The US seems to be making some very important steps with chemical detection and protection for consumers. The California Proposition 65 warning labels are awesome and today, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 was introduced, but Congress still needs help with you asking your Senators to sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act. Click here to learn more. And for Canada – we need to start leveraging some better protection ourselves to remove chemicals from all the products containing carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and more. The fact that sand for our kids sandboxes contains substances that can cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems just makes me shake my head.