Parents concerned about the safety of their children should pay attention to the different types of sand available for use in sandboxes. There are many different kinds of sand, and some of them may be dangerous to the health of small children.
Sand labeled as play sand and sold in bags by garden centers, toy centers, discount and hardware stores is produced commercially by quarrying or mining quartz and quartzite rock. The rock is broken up by industrial rock crushers to produce coarse, sharp-edged particles of silicon dioxide and other minerals.
Natural sand is produced by the effects of erosion and weathering that break down different types of rock to produce fine grained, rounded edge particles. White beach sand contains ground up limestone, while the white sands of New Mexico are pure gypsum. Arkose sand is composed mainly of feldspar from granite.
The finely ground crystalline silica of play sand produces a dust that can be dangerous when inhaled by children. Silica is carcinogenic and can also cause silicosis, a serious disease resulting from particles of silica embedded in lung tissue. According to the Sustain Lane website, play sand may also contain asbestos tremloite, a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer.