Greek playgrounds harbor concealed risks for children

THESSALONIKI – One in three playgrounds in Greece is unsuitable for children to play in, claims the Greek Consumer Organization network (d-EKATO). The network urges parents and others who accompany children to playgrounds to be careful of which equipment they use, as arsenic is one of the preservatives used on wooden structures. Citing research into the subject, d-EKATO states, «Every year a large number of accidents occur in children’s playgrounds, as 30 percent of the playgrounds in operation harbor serious risks to children’s safety.» Most playgrounds are situated near major roads, and so are subject to heavy pollution from traffic. In addition, they are poorly lit, have cement or paved ground surfaces, are not guarded, policed or fenced off and are often made from unsuitable materials. Nowadays most playground equipment is made of wood which, as d-EKATO notes, is coated with chemicals to prevent it from rotting, and those chemicals may contain copper, chromium and even arsenic. One study quoted by d-EKATO shows that 42 percent of the revolving structures in playgrounds are not properly supported, 74 percent of seesaws are faulty and half the swings have broken seats. As d-EKATO notes, all construction materials in children’s playgrounds must meet European Union specifications and be certified by the Greek Standardization Organization (ELOT).