play sand is hazardous to your health? locked

CrabbyOne? wrote:
Has anyone ever read the Material Safety Data Sheet for play sand?
It's totally scary. And to think we've always considered it to be an inert substance. Breathing the dust in play sand is very bad for you. I'm going to have to get myself a dust mask if I want to continue working with this stuff. Also, what is it doing to our crabs? Here's the safety sheet for King Play Sand:

Ladybug15057 wrote:
I have read this, and have checked some old links I had in regards to the research I had done a few years ago. But through this link that had the info, I have clicked onto the links within it and they are not there.
It now is a law in some states here in the U.S. that if a play sand is silica they 'must' label so on the bag. Problem being...not many understand what silica is or can do....
They had related some of the childrens respiratory problems/complications were linked to dry play sand.
And I am sorry to say that washing alone does not and will not get rid of some of the impurities and nasty's that are in the play sand...even those that are considered of a higher quality:
and the list and links with warnings go on, and on, and on.

Mike wrote:
My idea would be to use a completely different sub. I say use eco earth, or anything but play sand. Just a suggestion. I wouldn't want to harm my own health, and the hermies, just for play sand. Yuck!

DragMuffn? wrote:
I know a lot of people on this site (myself included) use various brands of playsand as at least part of their, Marie (or any admin or crabby expert), should we totally not be using playsand at all? If not, what kind of sand (if any) should we use, or what should we substitute for the sand?

CrabbyOne? wrote:
I've been looking into different substrates....Aragonite, crushed coral, or river gravel. All are safe for both people and crabs. Make sure that the gravel you get is non-coated (alot are coated with resin) and non-dyed. It's VERY hard to find natural stuff. I've been surfing and calling since I posted, with not alot of luck yet. Of course, Big Al's (I'm from Canada) sells the CaribSea? Aragonite stuff at $34.99 for 15 lbs, and their crushed coral is $44.99 for a 40lb bag - which is the amount that I put in my tank each time. So very costly. Based on these prices I won't be throwing away substrate anymore, I'll have to wash it every time. Southdown/YardRight/OldCastle used to sell the aragonite sand for $6.99 for a 50lb bag. From my surfing it looks like CaribSea? kyboshed their sales because CaribSea? was selling the same stuff for quadruple the amount and had first dibs on the stuff? So I think the reason why it isn't available anymore in Home Depot/Lansing/Lowes is because of this patent or ownership right for Aragonite sand. So our kids suffer the consequences, don't they?
I also don't know how I can wash this stuff properly without using streaming water out of my tap which is chlorine rich. Does anyone have any ideas about how to wash this stuff when our water is full of chlorine?

Ladybug15057 wrote:

Well Sherry, I do use the garden hose and bucket to wash my sand. When it is finally clean, I do pour most of the water off of it, then add dechlor drops to the water, stir it around, leave it sit for awhile then pour the rest of the water off.
DragMuffn?, I use to use a 1/2 play sand and 1/2 Estes sand.
On Hermies Group crabbers whose tanks were in order in every way began to have molting problems, unexplanable deaths, etc. I began to research substrates. (It was almost 9 months to a year since play sand was being used) When I pulled up so many nightmares about it, I went straight to the pet store and bought all new sand. Never used play sand again.
As for why the company quit selling the aragonite as a play sand and only as a aquarium type sand...that is exactly it, the $$$.

Sk8boarder wrote:
Don't hermit crabs live on beach sand in the wild?So what kind of sand should I use?

CrabbyOne? wrote:
Only some species live on the beaches, not all. But honestly, I don't want to be working with this stuff as often as I do, and I don't want this stuff in my house anymore after reading the dire warnings on the data sheets. If the dust is harmful to us, I think maybe it could be harmful to them? In the wild, they have the choice to leave the sandy beach whenever they please. Even if it were completely safe for the crabs (which I doubt), I don't want my family and myself exposed to silica dust everyday. I don't keep my sand wet, because it always went musty on me.
Health and Safety is saying that you should never use play sand indoors, and that you should keep it wet outdoors to keep the silica dust down in order to protect your kids. Everytime we sift through the sand to remove poop, we're stirring up some silica dust and breathing it in.... They say it takes years of exposure before problems show up.

Tmqp wrote:
Crushed oyster shell is available at any farm store. It is fed to chickens to help them digest and lay strong shelled eggs... It is DIRT cheap and a reasonable substitute to crushed coral. I have crushed coral in my snail tank, but it is not cheap... Does a good job keeping thier shells nice though.
I use the calci-sand in the crabitat... I really like it and I think the crabs do to... Always digging and excavating. The nice thing is it will hold its shape like packing snow and not collapse on their tunnels.
I found the easiest way to clean was to remove the soiled sand and rinse... Poops float to the top and can be drained off. I spread it out in a flat container and let it dry on the deck... Stir it a few times to expose any wet stuff...
I have never used playsand, so I cant really comment, but experience tells me that is excavated from many areas and not decontaminated or cleaned in any way. Sounds like a good way to bring home a critter infestation or some mold to me. Better to be safe then sorry.

JoeyO wrote:
Wow! What a crazy topic! I too use playsand and have considered spending big $ to get a safe substrate. I agree with the comment that I can't dispose of it.... that would get way exspensive.
I have been using playsand for a year and so far all my molts have went well with the exception on one.... and I have no idea what happened.
Are there any of you out there that only use EE? I heard that it molds? Is that true? I too want my crabs and family safe. Could someone please make a suggestion as too what it the safest choice?

Humjewharmony wrote:
I use all EE. I do have some beach sand I bought at the pet store but I haven't had the time to wash it properly yet. I never thought of buying play sand because it used to make me cough as a kid when it got stirred up.

Ladybug15057 wrote:
The dust off of oyster shells is VERY hazardous to ones health when or if inhaled at all. I once also use to feed the crushed oyster shells to our hermies. (still do but alway grind them into a powder first) I had a hermie who somehow managed to get a piece of crushed oyster shell within her shell and it punctured her sofe abdomen and she passed to rainbow bridge because of it.

HermEz? wrote:
im freaked out now--been using Quikrete for over a year now!!!!!! I feel a chest x-ray coming on- how do I convince the doc to let me get one?

GoodRabbies? wrote:
I've read that calsi-sand is quick to mold too. Much like the food, it spoils easily with moisture. I'm glad that I read this about the playsand. I've been using that because it's cheap (now I know why), and because EE or CF would send my humidity through the roof since it's humid here this time of year. I just have to figure something out about that, but at least I know now that I have to get rid of the sand. You know, rabbies aside, I can't believe that it's legally acceptable for our children to play in/with silica.

CrabbyOne? wrote:
Do I ever agree about that! They don't even let the poor suspecting public know. It should be a law everywhere that these bags are labelled. My daughter has been playing in sand ever since she was born at every daycare she's ever been at. I don't have play sand in my back yard because I HATE the mess it creates in my house, but now I'm really glad that she hasn't been able to come home and play in it there too. However, the park near our house has it.....

HermEz? wrote:
I wrote to Quikrete and this is their answersounds like a it was addressed previoulsyany thoughts on their response
To Whom It May Concern:

QUIKRETE® appreciates your concerns and values the chance to share with you our thoughts.
We have sold Play Sand for many years. QUIKRETE® Play Sand is 100% natural sand. QUIKRETE® Play Sand and practically all other natural sands in the world, including beach sand, river sand, etc. contain a significant portion of silica sand.
QUIKRETE® does not add any chemical to the natural sand in our bags of Play Sand.
In the mid-90's the State of California added products containing silica to its list of materials requiring “Proposition 65” labeling. The intent of Proposition 65 is to provide notice of the possible health risks associated with the use of products containing known carcinogens. Products that contain silica and require such notice include glassware sold in the fine china department of department stores. Proposition 65 does not distinguish between long-term intense exposure in industrial contexts (such as sandblasting) and occasional exposure (in, for instance, outdoor sandboxes). Exposure to airborne silica in outdoor sandboxes is usually minimal and occasional. We are not aware of any study that concludes that health risks are created by such short-term, occasional exposure to small amounts of sand in outdoor sandboxes. If for some reason the Play Sand does not receive moisture the way beach sand does, you could minimize the possibility of ambient silica in the air by keeping the sand slightly damp.
We understand the concerns our customers have for their families, and we hope this information is helpful to you.
Richard “Nick” Nicholson
Technical Director

HermEz? wrote:
Also went to the store and only their all purpose sand has the warning not the play sand FYI

Mssweetleaf wrote:
I bought new sand after reading the warning on my bag. The new stuff is called Premium Playbox sand. It says it has been sterilized for use in sandboxes. There no kind of warning anywhere on it or anything about silica. Do you think it still contains it even though there is not a warning?

CrabbyOne? wrote:
I believe the specifications the companies have to follow allow for a maximum of 10% breathable silica in play sand. All playsand is quartz based (which is silica). The only ones that are not are the Aragonite based ones made by YardRight/OldCastle (can't remember the name of the other one right now). These will look white or pink. They sell under the name Caribbean Play Sand or Tropical Play Sand. No-one here in Canada has even heard of such a thing. I've invested in a bag of CaribSea? Seaflor for now and am going to order 2 bags of the CaribSea? Aragamax Select from Big Al's Aquariums. And I'm going to have to wash this stuff.
I also put in an EE area, which everyone just loves to molt in. My E just came up from a great molt in EE and my PP has been down for 3 weeks now - he's ticking me off because he has come up twice now for water and still hasn't molted. Don't know why it's taking him so long.

Ladybug15057 wrote:
For a little more reading as to what some are finding out about play sand, please also read:

CrabbyOne? wrote:
ochembabe, my concern with breathable silica, aside from it possibly affecting the crabs, is that it could possibly affect my family. Hence my reasons for not wanting it in the house. There is a huge debate world-wide about the safety of playsand in the school yards and playgrounds. You will see some enlightened schools and daycares switching over to different substrates such as chipped wood or large gravel to get away from the silicosis that could potentially show up in children that have played in the sand 20 or 30 years down the road.
Other than that huge scare, is the impurities found in sand that ladybug talks about. There is also another thread talking about tons of iron filings found in playsand. I'm sure not all playsand has iron filings, but when we give our crabs only one choice for a substrate, and if it is full of iron, it's definitely not the best environment for them. And I don't believe they live on the beach 100% of the time in their natural habitats.

Ladybug15057 wrote:
Just did a little quick search for a question about a ZooMed? food in the Food forum. From this, it appears that the play sand sold for children is of a different 'mineral/element' make up than the sands that are actually inland from the beaches where our hermies do naturally live:
“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is the oxide of silicon, chemical formula SiO2?. Siliceous is an adjective meaning "referring to silica"
Silica is found in nature in several forms, including quartz and opal. In fact, 35 crystalline forms have been identified. 1
The most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually in the form of quartz because the considerable hardness of this mineral resists erosion. However, the composition of sand varies according to local rock sources and conditions.
Variants found in high-pressure impacts are coesite and stishovite.
Manufactured silica fume at maximum surface area of 38o²/g
Manufactured silica fume at maximum surface area of 38o²/g
Many forms of life contain silica structures (biogenic silica), including microorganisms such as diatoms, plants such as horsetail, and animals such as hexactinellid sponges. It is present in the cell walls of various plants (including edible ones) to strengthen their structural integrity. Silica is used in plaster, and this can have health implications for plasterers' children when work clothes and children's clothes are washed together. Microscopic particles of glass are held in the clothing and rubbed against the skin causing abrasion scars that go undiagnosed at the doctors. (reference needed for health effects mentioned above)
Silica is manufactured in several forms including:
* glass (a colorless, high-purity form is called fused silica)
* synthetic amorphous silica
* silica gel (used e.g. as desiccants in new clothes and leather goods)
It is used in the production of various products.
* Inexpensive soda-lime glass is the most common and typically found in drinking glasses, bottles, and windows.
* Silica, along with alumina (silica-alumina), forms a major part of the crystal lattice of clay minerals. These decompose on firing and form part of the microstructure of clay based ceramics such as earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
* Silica is a major ingredient of Portland cement.
* The ceramic re-entry heat protection tiles mounted on the bottom side of the Space Shuttles are made mostly of silica (see HRSI), as are the firebricks used in steel processing.
* It is the substance upon which silica aerogels are based.
* Silica is also used as a food additive, primarily as a flow agent in powdered foods, or to absorb water (see the ingredients list for Burger King).
* The natural ("native") oxide coating that grows on silicon is hugely beneficial in microelectronics. It is a superior electric insulator, possessing high chemical stability. In electrical applications, it can protect the silicon, store charge, block current, and even act as a controlled pathway to allow small currents to flow through a device. At room temperature, however, it grows extremely slowly, and so to manufacture such oxide layers on silicon, the traditional method has been the deliberate heating of silicon in high temperature furnaces within an oxygen ambient (thermal oxidation).
* Silica is the central component in most glass optical fibers.
* Silica in the form of Silicon Dioxide Ph. Eur. 6x. is also used as a homeopathic remedy to treat impure blood, brittle nails and lackluster hair. 2
* Silica is also used in the extraction of DNA and RNA due to its ability to bind to the nucleic acids under the presence of chaotropes.
* Silica is added to medicinal anti-foaming agent, like Simethicone, with a small portion to enhance defoaming activity.
Health effects
Inhaling crystalline silica dust can lead to silicosis or cancer.
Silicon dioxide is formed when silicon is exposed to oxygen (or air). A very thin layer (approximately 1 nanometer or 10 angstroms) of so-called 'native oxide' is formed on the surface when silicon is exposed to air under ambient conditions. Higher temperatures and alternate environments are used to grow well-controlled layers of silicon dioxide on silicon.
Silicon dioxide is attacked by hydrofluoric acid (HF). HF is used to remove or pattern silicon dioxide in the semiconductor industry.
Nomenclature of Silica
  • R. K. Iler, The Chemistry of Silica (ISBN 0-471-02404-X)”

Pearl wrote:
So, just to clarify: what your saying is that play sand sold in hardware stores etc. is silicon dioxide (quartz granules - the bad stuff) and what the hermies naturally live in is calcium carbonate (ground up limestone - the good stuff).
“Types of Sand
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The most common constituent of sand, in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings, is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of quartz, which, because of its chemical inertness and considerable hardness, is resistant to weathering. The composition of sand varies according to local rock sources and conditions. The bright white sands found in tropical and subtropical coastal settings are ground-up limestone. Arkose is a sand or sandstone with considerable feldspar content which is derived from the weathering and erosion of a (usually nearby) granite. Some locations have sands that contain magnetite, chlorite, glauconite or gypsum. Sands rich in magnetite are dark to black in color, as are sands derived from volcanic basalts. The chlorite-glauconite bearing sands are typically green in color, as are sands derived from basalts (lavas) with a high olivine content. The gypsum sand dunes of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico are famous for their bright, white color. Sand deposits in some areas contain garnets and other resistant minerals, including some small gemstones.”
The bright white sands found in tropical and subtropical coastal settings are ground-up limestone.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate: CaCO3). Limestone often contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert or flint, as well as varying amounts of clay, silt and sand as disseminations, nodules, or layers within the rock. The primary source of the calcite in limestone is most commonly marine organisms. These organisms secrete shells that settle out of the water column and are deposited on ocean floors as pelagic ooze or alternatively is conglomerated in a coral reef (see lysocline for information on calcite dissolution). Secondary calcite may also be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters (groundwater that precipitates the material in caves). This produces speleothems such as stalagmites and stalactites. Another form taken by calcite is that of oolites (oolitic limestone) which can be recognised by its granular appearance. Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks.
Pure limestone is white or almost white. Because of impurities, such as clay, sand, organic remains, iron oxide and other materials, many limestones exhibit different colors, especially on weathered surfaces. Limestone may be crystalline, clastic, granular, or massive, depending on the method of formation.”

LisaJulia? wrote:
Okay my head is spinning....why is it there is so much confllicting info between forums =(
Some say calci sand is great...some say NO don't use it...some say 'any' playsand from the hardware store is I am reading this (though the posts are about a year old)...some say a mix of cocoa bedding AND sand is good...but now the sand is bad to use...I am SO confused and keep buying and spending money only to find out what I thought was good to use from reading some info, isn't!
Just venting my's like some bathe hermies some don't...I mean is there a forum out there that's more standardized in terms of an FAQ with products or care guidelines that 'everyone' can agree is safe?
Vent over..and in no way am I upset or pointing fingers at anyone in's just that after serveral months of researching and trying to do what's best for my hermies, I find I am frustrated wading through SO MUCH conflicting info.

Ladybug15057 wrote:
Reason...there is not a 100% right or 100% wrong way of crabbing care out there once the criteria's are met, and hermie safe. There are a few crabbing methods that have been practiced for years and have proven to be very successful. This in reality does open the door for crabbers, if what they are doing is not successful there is another they may wish to try. I know of some crabbers who have taken a little from each method and found something that worked best for them and their hermies were they too are quite successful. But the play sand is a 'iffy' one and has been for years now since I began researching it. Even more info is coming out regarding using it as a substrate and it isn't good outcomes.
As for bathing, crabbers bath and are successful, some don't and are successful. If one cannot provide a large enough water sources for their hermies to submerge and bath themselves, then yes one should bath the hermies to clean the gunk out of their shells.

Skyguyx5 wrote:
I have never heard of this! Could this be the reason Ive had more athsma attacks? Ive noticed ive had more since my crabbies came into my room... I thought it was my imagination, but I guess not!
Ladybug- Do you know of a caresheet for EE? Id like to switch to that, and would like to read over the proper care of it.

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