When creating a fun and secure environment for children to play, a safe playground takes on the utmost importance. An often-overlooked aspect of ensuring children’s safety on playgrounds is the surfacing material used. Here, we look at the significance of playground surfacing, the types of materials used, and safety regulations and compliance standards.
Understanding Tarmac Surfaces
To understand the impact of bleach on tarmac, it is essential you know the composition of both. Tarmac is a combination of aggregates (stones, sand, and gravel) bound together with a bituminous binder such as tar. This mixture creates a flexible and robust surface that can withstand heavy loads and varying weather conditions.
Bleach is a chemical containing a potent oxidising agent commonly used for disinfection and stain removal. The active agent in many household bleaches is chlorine. But since pure chlorine is a toxic, corrosive gas, these products usually contain hypochlorite – a milder chlorine derivative that releases chlorine upon exposure to air.
The Effects of Bleach on Tarmac
While bleach can effectively remove organic stains and kill moss, mould, and algae on tarmac surfaces, it can also have negative consequences; these include:
- Discolouration: Bleach can lead to tarmac surfaces fading or changing colour over time. The chemicals in bleach break down the bitumen binder, resulting in a loss of the black colour and a lighter, greyish appearance.
- Surface Degradation: Prolonged exposure to bleach weakens the bonds between the bitumen binder and aggregates, causing the breakdown of the tarmac’s structure. This degradation can manifest as cracks, chips, and rougher texture.
- Environmental Impact: Runoff from bleach-treated tarmac surfaces can contaminate nearby soil and water bodies, negatively impacting local ecosystems and aquatic life.
Safe Alternatives for Cleaning Tarmac Surfaces
Considering the potential risks associated with using bleach on tarmac surfaces, it is advisable to explore safer alternatives for cleaning and maintaining them. Here are some options:
- Pressure Washing: Using water at high pressure can effectively remove stains and debris from tarmac surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals. However, avoid using excessive pressure because this could also damage the tarmac.
- Detergent-Based Cleaners: Mild detergent-based cleaners designed explicitly for tarmac cleaning can be a safer option. These cleaners are less likely to cause discolouration or structural damage when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. What’s more? They’re also biocidal and can kill moss and algae.
- Vinegar: White vinegar can be used to clean organic stains and stop certain types of overgrowth. It is less harsh on the tarmac and is a more environmentally friendly alternative.
- Hot Water and Bristle Brushes: For minor stains and localised overgrowth, using hot water and bristle brushes can be effective in removing tarmac stains without causing harm to the roadway.
Preventive Measures for Tarmac Maintenance
To effectively maintain tarmac surfaces and prevent the buildup of stains and contaminants, implementing the following preventive measures can be beneficial:
- Regular Cleaning: Regularly sweeping and cleaning tarmac surfaces helps remove loose debris, leaves, and dirt that allow moss to thrive on the tarmac. Also, promptly addressing any spills or stains can prevent them from becoming permanent.
- Sealcoating: Applying a seal coat to the tarmac every few years can protect it from UV rays, moisture, and chemical damage, extending its lifespan. If it’s been a while since you laid your driveway, consider getting in touch with a local tarmac driveway installer to apply a new layer of tar and mend any cracks that could worsen further.
- Proper Drainage: Ensure that the tarmac surface has adequate drainage to prevent standing water, which can accelerate surface degradation.
While bleach can effectively remove stains and kill certain types of moss, mould, and algae, its use on tarmac surfaces comes with potential risks. You can consider safer alternatives like pressure washing, detergent-based cleaners, or vinegar. Better still, adopting preventive measures can go a long way in preserving the integrity and longevity of your tarmac’s surfaces, removing the need for bleaching entirely.