DENVER (CBS4) – A viewer contacted CBS4 after spotting something unusual — a cancer warning on a bag of play sand.

4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks looked into the warning which is alarming for parents who just want some play sand for their children.

The company says their play sand is safe, but there are some things parents should know when they are shopping for their next bag of sand.

“I had never thought about it before,” mother Laura Pretty said.

The label warns “this product contains crystalline silica which is known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

Dr. Mike Van Dyke is the senior industrial hygienist with National Jewish Health.

“It’s not high on my list of big concerns for exposures to kids, but with kids we always want to be extra careful, we want to protect their lungs from these sorts of exposures,” Van Dyke said.

Many times play sand is made of crushed rock instead of beach or river sand. The silica dust can cause cancer if inhaled. According to Pavestone, its play sand contains small amounts of crystalline silica.

The company said they are required to put a warning on the label due to the California Proposition 65 warning.

“I think it’s always important to minimize any kind of environmental exposures for kids, and it’s probably a good idea that you use low silica or silica free sand in kids’ sandboxes,” Van Dyke said.

So when buying play sand, check the labels.

“I’m always looking at labeling as far as food goes. I’ve never considered sand, but now that I know about it, I definitely will in the future,” mother Lindsey Wolny said.

The best advice is to avoid play sand that creates airborne dust that can be easily inhaled by children. Use sand where the granules are larger.

Van Dyke says silica is associated with chronic lung disease. He says it actually occurs in older people like miners and construction workers.


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