1. ITV Report

Playground paint could be poisoning children

Playgrounds could be poisoning children in the South West Photo: ITV West Country

Playground equipment in the South West could pose a potential health hazard to children using it.

Scientist from Plymouth University have found dangerously high levels of lead in the paint used.

Samples were taken from all sorts of play structures including swings, slides, and see-saws.

47 playgrounds in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Hampshire were visited Credit: PA Images

Paint used in the UK should be lead-free or contains less than 2,500 parts per million.

But, this study showed that in some instances, levels of up to 152,000 parts per million of lead were detected on playground equipment.

Given that the total tolerable daily intake of lead for a child under six years of age is 6 microgrammes, the results of this study suggest that very little ingestion is required to present a potential health hazard.

It is difficult to attribute poisoning directly to paint on playground equipment because the effects of lead are cumulative and children may be exposed to a multitude of sources of lead in domestic and urban settings.

But previous studies around elevated lead in blood levels and the ingestion of paint chips have strongly suggested that paint is the source of intoxication.

– Dr Andrew Turner, Plymouth University

The study made a number of recommendations:

  • Surfaces should be monitored regularly for condition
  • Paint in poor condition should be carefully removed and structures stabilised and repainted with lead-free paint, or equipment replaced
  • Parents should be made aware of the dangers of children sucking or biting painted surfaces or ingesting paint chips
  • Stricter controls should be applied to domestic and imported paints used for playgrounds

A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said they had worked closely with Plymouth University while they carried out the research and will use the findings as part of an ongoing monitoring of play area safety.

The safety of all our playgrounds is obviously a high priority. We regularly inspect our play areas and remove any equipment that is found to be unsafe. We also refurbish and improve play areas when funding is available.

We will be upgrading equipment at several of our parks over the coming year.

– Plymouth City Council