Title

The effect of rubber playground surfaces on surrounding soil properties: A field study

School Name

Spring Valley High School

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Environmental Science

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Oral Presentation Award

3rd Place

Abstract

The widespread use of rubber surfacing as an alternative to wood mulch in outdoor environments is indicative of its cost-effectiveness, low maintenance requirements, and resistance to decay. In order to assess the environmental consequences of recycled rubber-surfaced playgrounds, the properties of soil exposed to rubber playground surfaces (RM1-3) and a wood mulch playground (WMC) were tested. It was hypothesized that RM soil would have higher zinc levels and a lower pH than WMC soil, that soil pH would be statistically the same at each sampling distance between rubber playground locations, and that NPK levels would show no significant change between distances and locations. Soil was sampled from 0, 1.5, and 3 meters from the playground perimeter and tested for pH and NPK; some samples were subject to more extensive laboratory testing. NPK results were analyzed with ANCOVA and ANOVA and pH results with Kruskal-Wallis tests at alpha = 0.05. Soil pH displayed no significant differences between perimeter distances. The soil pH of WMC and RM2 showed significant differences (F(3, 140) = 3.86, p=0.011), with RM2 having a higher pH. NPK results indicated no significant differences between distances or locations. Zinc levels in lbs/acre for RM1-3 were more than four times greater than WMC’s zinc levels. Significant differences between P and K results and laboratory tests highlight the limitations of the testing methodology. As this study specifically addressed one region, soil type, and rubber surface, similar studies for different ecological areas and rubber surface types could indicate significant differences in soil properties not shown in this research, especially concerning zinc levels.

Location

Lassiter 222

Start Date

4-14-2018 12:00 PM

Presentation Format

Oral and Written

COinS
 
Apr 14th, 12:00 PM

The effect of rubber playground surfaces on surrounding soil properties: A field study

Lassiter 222

The widespread use of rubber surfacing as an alternative to wood mulch in outdoor environments is indicative of its cost-effectiveness, low maintenance requirements, and resistance to decay. In order to assess the environmental consequences of recycled rubber-surfaced playgrounds, the properties of soil exposed to rubber playground surfaces (RM1-3) and a wood mulch playground (WMC) were tested. It was hypothesized that RM soil would have higher zinc levels and a lower pH than WMC soil, that soil pH would be statistically the same at each sampling distance between rubber playground locations, and that NPK levels would show no significant change between distances and locations. Soil was sampled from 0, 1.5, and 3 meters from the playground perimeter and tested for pH and NPK; some samples were subject to more extensive laboratory testing. NPK results were analyzed with ANCOVA and ANOVA and pH results with Kruskal-Wallis tests at alpha = 0.05. Soil pH displayed no significant differences between perimeter distances. The soil pH of WMC and RM2 showed significant differences (F(3, 140) = 3.86, p=0.011), with RM2 having a higher pH. NPK results indicated no significant differences between distances or locations. Zinc levels in lbs/acre for RM1-3 were more than four times greater than WMC’s zinc levels. Significant differences between P and K results and laboratory tests highlight the limitations of the testing methodology. As this study specifically addressed one region, soil type, and rubber surface, similar studies for different ecological areas and rubber surface types could indicate significant differences in soil properties not shown in this research, especially concerning zinc levels.