The sad truth is there are very real problems with Pour-In-Place (PIP) which are almost too numerous to mention, yet we'll try beneath the images with useful bits of info about PIP (click on any of them to see these at full resolution).
The founder of this company had installed PIP when it arrived on the playground scene, many years ago, then learned about the dangers and created a website page about this around 2008, which is when he was contacted on the phone by someone saying, "Did you create this page about the dangers of PIP?" He answered he was, and they responded, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, we need to get the word out to more people!" This is how arguably the foremost authority on playground safety introduced themself.*
Cost: Around $40 to $60 per square foot over 25 years; Initially around $12 to $15 per square foot for a 3" to 4" depth, Ongoing about $3 per square foot to patch deteriorated areas every 2-3 years of its 10-12 year lifespan, and another $12 to $15 or more replace it at least once over 25 years
Safety: Definitely the worst fall safety of any available playground safety surfaces, because fall impacts have been tested to be between 444% to 700% more likely to result in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or death versus the average rubber mulch, because the kinetic energy from the initial impact is imparted upward toward the still faling child, thereby amplifying the potential for more serious injury such as long-bone radial or spiral fractures of the forearm for kids 6 and older, or broken necks for younger children
Maintenance: Due to the nature of PIP, heat, air and moisture is common, which leads to microbes, and many playgrounds require frequent cleaning and disinfection treatment; patching every two to three years in high wear areas is costly, and replacement is essentially starting over again
Hazards: Pathogens and microbes are are more frequent that is acceptable, with most PIP surfaces tested resulting in uncovering Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and other harmful elements growing in what is eesentially a giant Petri dish inside a playground; the upper wearcourse normally comprised of Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) granules have been tested and found to exude a carcinogenic substance when exposed to sunlight; the nature of serious fall impact injuries are increased due to the safety issues with PIP
Liabilities: Frankly, where do we begin? Claims for injuries can be substantial, given the nature of those common most to PIP, in addition to claims for exposure to potentially harmful microbes and pathogens typically present withn PIP, including those who maintain or remove it for replacement
*One of the highest regarded authorities on playground safety said, "My number one goal is to get PIP out of every playground in the world," Dr. Donna Thompson (retired former Chair of ASTM & CPSC Boards for Playground Safety & Executive Director of the National Program for Playground Safety). She also said she considers PIP to be the most dangerous playground safety surface, providing the founder of this company with lots of reports and data to support these claims when editing his story that was published at Playground Magazine online on Sept. 9, 2014, "Are Our Playgrounds (and Industry-Related Fall Safety Standards) Really Safe?" Here's a link to that same story hosted at SafestPlayground.com.
(The author was a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) at the time, authoring & publishing articles, and conducting educational seminars on these and other similar topics.)
Why would anyone choose to spend at least $12 to $15 per square foot for something so awful, hazardous, and requires maintenance that reduces its already very low fall safety? This is just beginning with the rather extreme expense, before adressing the plethora of problems with PIP.
Fall impacts on PIP vs the average rubber mulch have been reported to be between 444% and 700% more likely to result in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or death. That ought to be enough to dissuade someone from choosing it alone, because the kinetic energy from the initial impact is imparted upward toward the still falling child as it returns to its original shape, increasing potential impact trauma injury. Playground fall data shows children twist and turn as they tumble downward, learning to break their fall with their arms at around age six, and younger children tend to land on their face or head. If it's the former age 6 or older, long-bone radial or spiral fractures of the forearm can be normal, which often requires surgery involving rods & pins, possible tendon damage, and the potential for compound fracture. That ought to be strike one, using the baseball term, and yet it gets worse from here.
The upper wearcourse which contains the colorful EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber granules have been shown to exude an amber-colored substance known to be carcinogenic and cause cancer when exposed to sunlight. Strike two. Then you consider that nearly every PIP tested showed either salmonella, streptococcus, or staphylococcus bacterial microbes growing within them, with all that heat, air and moisture (anyone remember high school biology class?). If you're counting, that's strike three, so selecting PIP ought to be out of the question as a viable candidate.
Due to the effect of sunlight causing liquid to ooze out of every little EPDM granule, this effectively pops the think skin of the dried layer of liquid material used to bind everything together, making it crack and more susceptible to damage in heavy traffic areas, such as the base of ladders, climbing equipment, slide landing zones, underneath swings, etc. These small cracks eventually open up into larger areas of EPDM that de-laminates off the base layer of tire buffings held together by the same dried liquid. Typically, this can happen within as little as two to three years, depending on the amount of playground use, then patching is required that effectively reduces the impact safety by a minimum of 50%.
So we're really going backward here, with the area most likely to experience fall impacts actually going from bad to worse. Imagine it having to be patched more than once within the same area, and now there's almost no impact safety left, or elasticity of the pin buffing sub-layer that's now probably a semi-solid mass due to improper repair.
When placed in the vicinity of playground sand, this hastens the de-lamination process that leads to damage, and it's almost impossible to remove the granulated sand during the patching process, losing an even higher percentage of fall safety than without it filling in all of the gaps with the new binding agent used. Along with the sand normally come animals, not just local domestic pets, but feral animals that roam wild, and those pathogens can also spread and propogate within the heat, air and moisture trapped within most PIP installations.
Now let's say you've gotten tired of trying to live with the bad decision of installing PIP and want to remove and replace it. The problem now is, you've got potentially hazardous waste to contend with, which could likely be infected with whatever has been festering within this giant Petri dish that children have been playing upon, or toddlers spreading out their Goldfish snacks on top of it (Ew!). Shouldn't the people removing it be wearing hazardous material protective suits to avoid contamination? Will the local jurisdiction allow the disposal of this conventionally, or does it require special hazardous waste disposal at considerably greater cost for handling expenses?
Now that you''ve finally gotten rid of this stuff, you couldn't possibly choose PIP again, could you?!? Well, a lot of communities and facilities actually do, because they just don't know what they don't know, and that's truly a tragedy for anyone and everyone who comes in contact with that playground.