Safe Sandboxes for Children

Kids love sandboxes, but many parents have become concerned about the quality and safety of the sand. With summer coming fast you may want to consider the type of sand you have in your child’s sandbox

Apparently, most types of play sand contain crystalline silica and asbestos tremolite. The silica is derived from quartz stone and is a known carcinogen. California’s Prop 65 requires the labeling of carcinogen’s in products for sale in that state.

OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) says this about crystalline silica, “Silica, Crystalline: Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable crystalline silica. More than one million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica, and each year more than 250 die from silicosis. There is no cure for the disease, but it is 100 percent preventable if employers, workers, and health professionals work together to reduce exposures.” Apparently, the small pieces of silica can be inhaled and trapped in lung tissue. To see the California label, and to learn more about silica, visit

Asbestos tremloite is a form of asbestos, and puts kids at risk of developing a lung cancer that is mostly caused by limited absestos exposure, and this risk can continue for decades. According to the Green Guide, and Philip Landrigan, M.D., director of the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, children breathe proportionally more air than adults, and they play close to the ground, thus increasing their exposure significantly. Think about kids playing in sandboxes, they literally sit in it, are constantly pouring and creating dust (and c’mon, they’re kids–many times, they are eating it!), therefore ingesting and breathing in these carcinogens.

What are we to use for sand? 1). Look for river or beach sand, usually found at landscape and gardening stores. Fine-grain sand may be sold as #30 grit sand, but CHEC doesn’t like any fine sand that may give off easily ingested dust particles. Some parents use coarser sand that does not have much dust or use another filler, such as pea gravel. Be prepared: Neither is as much fun for the kids. Whatever sand is used, it should be changed at least once during the play season.

I found one company that sells safe sand. There are probably others that you can search for that you can compare prices for.