New Consumer Report on Playground Safety Takes Aim at Views of Corporate Groups

Monday, August 4, 2008

For Release:
August 4, 2008

Contact: Joanne Doroshow, Amy Widman, 212/267-2801

New Consumer Report on Playground Safety Takes Aim at Views of Corporate Groups

New York - The national consumer group Center for Justice & Democracy released today a new report entitled, Kids ‘N Safe Play: Regulation, Litigation And Playground Safety. The report, by CJ&D Attorney/Policy Analyst Amy Widman, herself a mom with young toddlers at home, comes on the heels of passage of major consumer project legislation, much of it aimed at child safety.

Said CJ&D Executive Director Joanne Doroshow, “Just as many corporate groups vehemently opposed landmark legislation to ensure the safety of children’s toys, they have also seized on children’s playgrounds as an area to exploit, misquoting child psychologists and manipulating data arguing topsy-turvy notions like safe playgrounds are bad for our children. This report shows such notions to be naïve and false.”

The report says, “Since the mid-1980s, traditional steel on asphalt playgrounds have been increasingly replaced by play areas featuring brightly colored and molded structures with imaginative play spaces and interesting climbing equipment over soft ground covering, reflecting both safety and development improvements.… Use of safer shapes and materials, including soft surfaces and rounded edges, have not only allowed playgrounds to continue to be ‘fun’, but also result in safer equipment that is less likely to send a child to the hospital.” Moreover, many playground historians believe the old “prison yard” playgrounds of yore were not only unsafe, they were boring too.

Kids ‘N Safe Play explores the history of Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulation, as well as studies by pediatricians and other health and consumer organizations, all of which support safer playgrounds. And while CPSC standards have prompted most new playground development, regulations and lawsuits have played a joint role in creating safer playgrounds. This has been especially true in helping correct environmental dangers, including arsenic in treated wood, peeling lead paint on metal structures, or playgrounds built too close to toxic land or inundated with pesticides.

Still, much more must be done, most recently made clear when a New York City toddler sustained second-degree burns on his feet due to the excessively hot rubber ground covering. Said report author Amy Wildman, “Playground design is improving slowly but there are still too many dangerous designs and toxins in children's play areas. Litigation, in conjunction with regulation, has and can encourage safer development of playgrounds.”

A copy of the report can be found at


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