Minimizing the Environmental Impact of Construction Materials in Playground Design

EPA Grant Number: SU832476
Title: Minimizing the Environmental Impact of Construction Materials in Playground Design
Investigators: Lima, Marybeth
Current Investigators: Lima, Marybeth , Abadie, Alicia , Bridges, T. Kyle , Jones, Jacqueline , Qureshi, Talha
Institution: Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


We are a playground design team at Louisiana State University that has been involved with playground design projects for the past seven years. Playgrounds are extremely important to society because they promote the physical, mental, and social well being of children. Developing environmentally friendly methods to design and construct playgrounds is important. There are two environmental issues in playground design that we seek to address in this proposal. The sugarcane processing industries in the southern United States are facing problems with disposing of thousands of tons of bagasse, a waste by-product of the process. Wasted sugar cane bagasse has the potential of being used as an effective playground surfacing material that will be environmentally friendly and will benefit the economy and society as a whole. Also, the pressure-treated wood present in the play structures installed during the 1960s and 1970s until 2003 was processed using chromated copper arsenic (CCA). Arsenic is a known carcinogen. Both of these issues relate directly to our designs. The carcinogenic CCA can be picked up on hands and clothing when in contact with the users, posing a potentially serious health risk to children. Waste bagasse usage can lower the cost of playground design. Our aim is to carry out a series of tests that will determine the suitability of bagasse surfaces, with all tests being in accordance with the ASTM F1951 standards. Additionally, we would like to study the effectiveness of polyurethane as a coating on pressure treated wood and profile the arsenic concentrations in the soil surrounding the subjected play areas. Appropriate statistical analyses and methods will be utilized in all evaluations of the data and results. Our ultimate goal is to provide recommendation to make playgrounds more safe and more economical so that more public schools can have safe, fun, playgrounds.

Supplemental Keywords:

waste reduction, public good, health effects, ecological effects, vulnerability,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemicals Management, Environmental Engineering, green design, bagasse surface, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, playground construction, alternative materials, arsenic removal, construction material, pollution prevention, green chemistry, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report