Railroad Ties in Playgrounds

The Arizona Register of Contractors requires a Playground Contractors License for installation. It is important to note that playground maintenance is not regulated in the State of Arizona.  It is up to the individual community to make decisions best for their children.  CareScape has Certified Playground Safety Inspectors to give advice and help you keep your children safe.

The word is Do NOT use railroad ties where your children are going to be playing! Creosote treated wood from fences, bridges, railroad ties, or telephone poles are not recommended for use in playgrounds. Children who play on soil contaminated with creosote have more skin rashes than children playing on non-contaminated soil. Apart from this, health effects of creosote have not been extensively studied in children. In adults, creosote causes irritation of the respiratory tract, and long-term exposure to low levels of coal tar creosote can cause skin damage such as peeling. Direct long-term exposure to creosote has been correlated with skin cancer and cancer of the scrotum. Calling creosote a possible human carcinogen in 2007, the EPA has a list of warnings about its use. These cautions apply to railroad ties decommissioned by the railroads and reused by humans for landscaping, playgrounds, gardens, and on farms.  Additionally, landscape timbers and lumber treated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA) as a protection against weather, mold, and insects, has been phased out, but such lumber made before 2004 could still contain high levels of CCA, which is dangerous because the arsenic in it is a known carcinogen.

When choosing the type of border you want for a playground, you should consider safety, cost, and aesthetics. Fortunately, there are enough border materials available for just about any playground need.  Alternatives to creosote and CCA treated lumber include untreated redwood or cedar, which are naturally decay resistant and sustainably harvested. Composite lumber made from sawdust and recycled plastic is another option.  There are 9″tall playground & landscape borders that are made with recycled plastic and Manufactured in the USA. These maintenance free borders will not rot, splinter, crack or decay like treated wooden borders will over time. They are environmentally friendly to the soil and are insect resistant. There are no sharp corners or edges which offer greater protection against children hurting themselves.

Plastic playground borders are gaining favor because they don’t need maintenance, keep loose playground surfacing in place well, and are extremely durable. There are also recycled plastic landscaping timbers with hinged joints to accommodate unusual shapes.  Rubber Playground Borders made of recycled rubber

can be used to follow curves in a design that straight plastic or wood timbers cannot.

Contact our CareScape Playground team to help you with your playground needs.