A company that turns old tires into surface tiles for play areas is pressing the state to spend five million dollars to install the tiles on every elementary playground in Iowa. Tim Mahoney of Welch Products says his company would partner with the National Program for Playground Safety at the University of Northern Iowa to land 10-million dollars from the feds for the initiative. Mahoney’s company proposes using Iowa prison labor to take “crumb rubber” — recycled tires — and mold it into two-foot-by-two-foot rubber playground tiles. He says the tiles remove any maintenance costs to the playground. Mahoney says the tiles vary in thickness, based on where they’re placed on the playground. Tiles under the merry-go-round wouldn’t be as thick as the tiles under the jungle gym.Mahoney says that means if a child should fall from eight feet onto one of the thicker tiles, the chance of them cracking their head is greatly reduced. The tiles won’t prevent scraped knees, though. He says any surface can cause abrasions, but he says the ultimate goal is to prevent the cracking of bones.The special rubber surface tiles have already been installed in 25 playgrounds around the state, at a cost of between 40 and 50 dollars per two-foot-by-two-foot tile.
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