healthy alternatives to play sand - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 4-yr old dd loves to dig and play in sand but I just found out the play sand sold at hardware stores (quikrete brand) is silica which can cause silicosis, TB, cancer, etc. Bad stuff! So, we are not getting any this year. (we had some last year ) But, what to put in the sand box? Anyone have any creative ideas other than dirt? Dirt would be ok but the good thing about sand is that it is larger than dirt, less likely to grind into clothes. I was thinking bark would be too large and some bark is treated any way. But, some playgrounds have bark. Pebbles might be ok. Some playgrounds have pebbles.

What else can you do with a sand box other than put sand in it? Any other ideas?

I do know of a website called safesand.com but their sand is $185 for a 200 lb bag. The quikrete is only $64 for 200 lbs. Big cost difference! I am still not buying the quikrete but the safesand is too expensive.
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#2 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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I know someone who uses pea gravel in her sand box. She likes it because it's way less likely to get tracked in to the house. The kids all seem to like it just as well as sand. They can still dig and scoop, just not do the sand-castle, molding thing you can do with sand.
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#3 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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We get our sand from a landscaping company. We pay $20 for a 1/2 tonne truckload which is way more than what we need for our sandboxes.
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#4 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 05:53 PM
 
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I didn't know it was silica!!! Yikes.

On the off note, I hate sand. I bought some for the kids. Bad move. I've been vacuuming every day, at least twice a day and it's still in the house. :
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#5 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 08:25 PM
 
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Did the sand you were looking at clearly say "Play Sand" on the bags? Most sand sold in bags at hardware stores do indeed contain silica - but bags marked "Play Sand" do not. Ask specifically for "play sand"... the bags we find here in the northeast are green and orange and have line art of kids printed on the outside.

Hope that helps!
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#6 of 28 Old 05-06-2007, 09:34 PM
 
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Ah... phew. I feel better, lol.
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#7 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by michelle1k View Post
Did the sand you were looking at clearly say "Play Sand" on the bags? Most sand sold in bags at hardware stores do indeed contain silica - but bags marked "Play Sand" do not. Ask specifically for "play sand"... the bags we find here in the northeast are green and orange and have line art of kids printed on the outside.

Hope that helps!
Sadly, you are wrong. This is the problem. Play sand is hazardous!

You are referring to the Quikrete play sand, the same kind sold at Lowes where I am. Visit the link below, download the MSDS documnet (a pdf file) and read about it:

"EMERGENCY OVERVIEW: Crystalline silica (quartz) Note: Keeping Play Sand damp eliminates the hazards associated with its dust. OSHA REGULATORY STATUS This material is considered hazardous under the OSHA Hazard Communications Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS: Inhalation: a. Silicosis Respirable crystalline silica (quartz) can cause silicosis, a fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs. Silicosis may be progressive; it may lead to disability and death. b. Lung Cancer Crystalline silica (quartz) inhaled from occupational sources is classified as carcinogenic to humans. c. Tuberculosis Silicosis increases the risk of tuberculosis."



http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines...remiumPlay.asp


Pea gravel is a great idea. Thanks!
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#8 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 12:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
"EMERGENCY OVERVIEW: Crystalline silica (quartz) Note: Keeping Play Sand damp eliminates the hazards associated with its dust. OSHA REGULATORY STATUS This material is considered hazardous under the OSHA Hazard Communications Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS: Inhalation: a. Silicosis Respirable crystalline silica (quartz) can cause silicosis, a fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs. Silicosis may be progressive; it may lead to disability and death. b. Lung Cancer Crystalline silica (quartz) inhaled from occupational sources is classified as carcinogenic to humans. c. Tuberculosis Silicosis increases the risk of tuberculosis."
Right, but the issue is only with dust. Any small inhalable particles are potentially bad for your lungs over lots of exposure. Construction work, sandblasting, some kinds of art material uses, might produce significant quantities of inhalable silica dust. But the proportion of the contents of any bag of sand small enough to inhale is likely to be extremely small. Damp sand, as the quote above points out, is no risk. I'm not knocking your decision, but I am also not worried about my ds playing in the sand.
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#9 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just does not seem worth the risk to me. We had this last summer and dd plays in it constantly, for hours a day. She always had dust on her. Seems like an easy one to protect her from. As the greenguide article below states, children breathe proportionately more air than adults. The greenguide article also states there are no known incidents of cancer in children known to be caused by sand but, again, it seems like an easy thing to protect kids from. This probably explains why parks increasingly don't have sand boxes. That and they get full of animal poop!

Some sand also contains asbestos!

More info:

http://www.checnet.org/healthehouse/...sp?Main_ID=949

http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/120/play
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#10 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 12:38 AM
 
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Don't you let your children play on beaches? Sea sand also contains silica...
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#11 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 12:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by michelle1k View Post
Don't you let your children play on beaches? Sea sand also contains silica...
According to the checnet article referenced above, sea sand is different. Inland beach sand may be silica but not sand near the oceans. Inland beaches are usually near lakes, rivers, and streams and are usually wet at least part of the day. Large sea beaches are often quite dry but they are not silica so no big deal. Wetness keesp the dust down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand
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#12 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:00 AM
 
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I've heard that an alternative would be to use dry beans and rice. Does that sound bad?
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#13 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard that an alternative would be to use dry beans and rice. Does that sound bad?

That would be a great idea for indoors if you don't have pets! I can just see my dog eating it all.


But, I was meaning for outdoors. I really think we will do the pea gravel. It just sounds perfect.
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#14 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:03 AM
 
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For inside play we used wheat or other grains at our preschool.
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#15 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:23 AM
 
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We have pea gravel in a 4x4 two foot deep box. NO SAND IN HOUSE, no cat poop in it.
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#16 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:27 AM
 
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flaxseed. it feels really cool and is silky/relaxing.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Mark Twain
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#17 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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flaxseed. it feels really cool and is silky/relaxing.
Boy, you guys are bound and determined to get my dog's poops really regular, aren't you?
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#18 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 09:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
Sadly, you are wrong. This is the problem. Play sand is hazardous!

You are referring to the Quikrete play sand, the same kind sold at Lowes where I am. Visit the link below, download the MSDS documnet (a pdf file) and read about it:

"EMERGENCY OVERVIEW: Crystalline silica (quartz) Note: Keeping Play Sand damp eliminates the hazards associated with its dust. OSHA REGULATORY STATUS This material is considered hazardous under the OSHA Hazard Communications Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS: Inhalation: a. Silicosis Respirable crystalline silica (quartz) can cause silicosis, a fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs. Silicosis may be progressive; it may lead to disability and death. b. Lung Cancer Crystalline silica (quartz) inhaled from occupational sources is classified as carcinogenic to humans. c. Tuberculosis Silicosis increases the risk of tuberculosis."



http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines...remiumPlay.asp


Pea gravel is a great idea. Thanks!
Wow, thanks for this thread. I am really scared now. We spend a month at the seaside, in front of a beach, which however, is washed away by the sea every winter. Regularly, the town municipality every summer refills the beach with some cheap sand that it transports on the site with huge trucks. It makes a lot, a lot of dust. What can I do to minimize the danger?
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#19 of 28 Old 05-07-2007, 09:49 AM
 
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Go to the beach after the sand is nice and wet. Like after a rain or a high tide.

Really, I think I'd just keep the sand wet. Given all the documented measurable hazards out there, I refused to get stressed over the theoretical ones:

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#20 of 28 Old 05-08-2007, 08:01 PM
 
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Go to the beach after the sand is nice and wet. Like after a rain or a high tide.

Really, I think I'd just keep the sand wet. Given all the documented measurable hazards out there, I refused to get stressed over the theoretical ones:
We're just in front of the beach, and it is difficult to keep the kids away from it.. but, good suggestion, I'll try...
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#21 of 28 Old 05-09-2007, 01:14 AM
 
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At our co-op preschool we use rice. You can buy 50 Ib bags at costco for cheap and the kids love to play with it. If your using the sand box outside I would suggest not getting beans because any that drop on the ground will sprout and mess up your lawn, I've seen it happen.
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#22 of 28 Old 05-12-2007, 08:58 PM
 
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We use all sorts of stuff. Rice, beach sand (Have to check on this one after reading this thread, though), corn meal, dry oats, beans, dirt, water, cheerios, flour (be warned, this stuff is NUTS to clean up), confettied paper, popcorn kernals...
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#23 of 28 Old 05-12-2007, 09:55 PM
 
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Go to the beach after the sand is nice and wet. Like after a rain or a high tide.

Really, I think I'd just keep the sand wet. Given all the documented measurable hazards out there, I refused to get stressed over the theoretical ones:
Of course, after the rain the coastal beaches are full of fecal matter and chemicals from storm drains, creeks, sewers! Yuck. Our beaches are often closed after a rain. Our beaches look beautiful and we thought they were safe. Turns out that no one was testing them. When an ocean protection group started testing them a few years ago, they started closing them often.

Pea gravel sounds like a good solution. We went to the landscaping store and they sold us "river sand." They said it didn't have silica, but not sure if it is true. Our biggest issue is keeping the cats out of it.

I don't know about other states, but this makes me not want to steal sand from a california beach:

click on page 4

http://www.healtheocean.org/articles...tory/index.htm

:Puke
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#24 of 28 Old 05-13-2007, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Update:

pea gravel has been a big hit. It even fits through the sand sifting toy we got last summer. She loves driving her dump truck around and filling it up. You can groom it with a rake. It is dirty still but that is ok. She is having fun.
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#25 of 28 Old 05-13-2007, 02:16 PM
 
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While I think there is a theoreticall risk for sand those guidlines are made for people who are working with it all day every day for years often indoors. With any inhaled risk it is vastly minimized outdoors as it dissapates intot he air instead of staying in the air and recirculating through your house. I was wierded out by the warning but after thinking about it don't really think it's an issue. We have one of tose turtle plastic sandboxes I cover it to keep the cats out but leave a lip open so that when it rains the sand gaets some water in it and stays damp.
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#26 of 28 Old 05-13-2007, 05:46 PM
 
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Another poster already wrote this, but I thought I'd mention it because the healthy alternatives that have been mentioned (with a few exceptions) have similar risks. A few examples of alternatives that still cause dust and are known carcinogens to those with a lot of exposure are any of the food items mentioned (perhaps except for flax seed) such as flour, rice, wheat, corn meal etc.... Bakers are at risk of developing emphasema and other respiratory disorders as a result of being around it and working with it regularly.

Silica is a naturally occurring substance that is derived of quartz stone, which is pretty hard to avoid, anywhere!

I do think the pea gravel is the best alternative simply because it doesn't cause as much dust, but just don't think that you're avoiding the risk by substituting corn or wheat for quartz or even by using pea gravel unless you know of its origin. Stone contains so many elements in so various concentrations that you would have to test the very sand you were considering before being sure what contaminants you are dealing with. For instance, in south-central Ontario, there are areas where much of the stone naturally contains uranium that when left alone does nothing, but when the stone is broken (even just into pea gravel, and then especially sand) is radioactive and extrememly hazardous.

We're building a sand box this summer and will probably put pea gravel into it. It contains quartz, and so many other types of stone/crystal that it would take us the whole summer to find out what they are! Actually, that sounds like a great activity! Thankfully, there is no known uranium deposits up here, so at least that's not a concern. I think quartz is really one of the least concerning because it is a very stable crystal overall; it's rated at 7 for hardness and the hardest rating is for diamond at 10. Only Topaz, corundum and diamond are harder than quartz, so if what you have to work with is quartz, and you can't afford to fill your sand box with diamonds, I think you're doing okay.

Have fun! A pocket guide to rocks and minerals may help to dispell (or create) concerns. Either way, it's great to be informed!

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#27 of 28 Old 05-13-2007, 10:08 PM
 
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Many daycares and preschools use rice or dried corn.

Michelle: wife to J, mom to M (2001), E (2003), C (2005), S (2007) and O! (2009) And someone new in 2011!
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#28 of 28 Old 05-14-2007, 04:52 PM
 
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We have used rice outside....but if the birds eat it...I don't think that is good for them..birdseed?? My sister uses dried corn kernels and John Deere tractors for her son. What about a clay you can find in nature...we have alot of clay in the ground on our area.
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