Sandboxle Debacle

Just when I think that I can’t love consignment stores anymore, my heart swells with the latest, and greatest find!  Well, Beckett’s birthday gift shopping was no exception.  Armed with $50 in hand from Jacob’s Grandma and on a mission to find a suitable gift on her behalf for my almost two-year-old, I found myself ridiculously out of breath and red-faced in front of my good ol’ consignment store.  The walk was longer than expected and apparently I wasn’t going fast enough because the dog pulled harder than warranted, but I hit the doors right after opening and guess what was on the front steps?!  An amazing plastic sandbox!  It was attractive.  It was reasonably priced.  It had been brought in just prior to closing the night before, so it was making its first appearance on the curb.  It had my name, well, Beckett’s name on it.  Purchase made.  Two-mile walk back to the car.  Two mile drive back to the store.  Trophy worthy wrestling moves to fit the sandbox into the back of a Prius.  Ridiculously embarrassing tie downs and a 15 mile drive home on county roads.

But, we prevailed.  The sandbox made it home and was stored snuggly in our garden shed until the big day.  Little did I know that the maneuvering finagle that had brought the sandbox home would be the smallest of hiccups in this debacle.

Let’s play a little game.  I know you want to…

What do you fill a sandbox with?

Sand, of course.

Where do you get sand?

The bags at the hardware store, the beach (the authorities tend to frown on this though), your local gravel yard, your neighbor kids’ sandbox (again not the most standupish of options) or any other creative outlet you can think of.

What kind of sand do you get?

Something you can build sandcastles with.  Something your child can eat (you know they are going to, it’s not worth fighting it).  Something the neighborhood kitties won’t find attractive (this is a tall order – nix it – go with a lidded sandbox).

But, more specific?

Playground sand.  Yes, the kind that is actually marked “PLAYGROUND SAFE”.

Do you read the labels on that sand?

Heck YES {!!} you should!  If you are a little fanatical like me consider reading the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet), too.

Begin scratching your head…

Not because of the sand, but because of the information at the bottom of the MSDS – that highlighted section (#6 to be exact) titled “Health Hazard Information”.

{A little light reading: MSDS Sheet for Sakrete sand sold at Home Depot}

HUH!?  Why would that be on there?  And, why does it say that the ingredients are known carcinogens and the dust is not safe for adults (or children!) (or pets!) to breathe.

Now, take a deep breath and settle your hands on the pit of your stomach where your heart just fell to.

The story gets muckier.  The fine print fuzzier.

But, the facts are true.  Most playground sand, well, most man-made sand (say that 10 times fast) in fact, is made by grinding up quarried quartz.  The resulting product is crystalline silica.  This dust is regulated by OSHA and known to cause fatal lung conditions including cancer and silicosis.  Exposure to crystalline silica in the workplace is handled in the same manner as asbestos.  Think big: EPA regulations, masks, sealed clothing… Yeah, it’s a big deal.

And, it’s in bags of play sand.

Play sand for our children.  The same play sand that mud pies are made out of.  The same sand that children throw into the air and romp around in.  The same play sand in my daughter’s hair and the pockets of her jeans.

California is the only state that requires the presence of crystalline silica to be labeled on packaging.  Residents of the other 49 states are required to dig deeper.  Order the MSDS.  Call the company.  Check the internet.  Do the research because the packaging doesn’t provide the necessary information.

Like most mamas, I have a warrior mentality when it comes to protecting my child.  Don’t f&%* with Beckett.  And, do not under any circumstances knowingly put her in danger.

So, why is it okay to package a toxic substance and market it directly for use by children.

Because the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed.  The ingredients are clearly marked on the package.  The MSDS is available for your perusal.  And, there it stands.  We are left to be proactive, squeaky-wheel, answer-seeking parents who dig a little deeper, ask a few more questions and inquire within.

In the end, Beckett’s sandbox was filled with 30 gallons of salvaged silt off the Nooksack River on land that Jacob’s Grandma owns – a perfect filler for the gifted sandbox from her.  It’s the ideal brick-laying, cupcake-making sand.  It’s all natural.  It was free.  And, it was perfectly safe.

{Please imagine the most-dreary, miserably rainy, freakin’ cold Washington day you can; then add three grown men (Thank you Daddy, Uncle Jerry and Grandpa Bruce! –Beckett) annoyed that they are shoveling sand into buckets and one toddler long overdue for a nap and you can picture why there is no picture of our sand salvaging adventure.}

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9 Responses to Sandboxle Debacle

  1. Cutzi says:

    Good sleuthing, Kate!

    And really, what else can one comment here?

    It’s sickening.

  2. Ginger says:

    That is SO disturbing. You know, my husband and I make fun of CA a lot for all the warnings–they’re on EVERYTHING (seriously, there was one on the gate to our old apt complex because the oil or something used to grease the gears on the gate were a “known carcinogen” when ingested. I think if anyone was licking the gears of the giant gate, they had bigger problems than the carcinogen, but what do I know).

    BUT. There are things like this that make me glad they’re so hyper-vigilant about labeling. Because this? Is pretty unacceptable to hide.

    • sacredbee says:

      This whole finding made my stomach flip flop and then the fountain of swear words unleashed itself. Labeling is good, but honestly we both know people don’t read labels – except sometimes to make fun of them and how ridiculous they are. But, it shouldn’t even be in the play sand…no label should be needed. You know what I mean?

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