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Substance in playground id'd as sulphuric acid

Media Release

29 November, 2007

Mystery substance in playground identified as sulphuric acid

Sulphuric acid has been identified as the substance that burned the trousers of an 11 month-old boy, at Glen Eden’s Harold Moody Park on November 15.

After being approached by the child’s family, Waitakere City Council immediately closed the playground and sent the clothing to the Ag Research testing laboratory.

The lab today confirmed that that sulphuric acid – the acid used in car batteries – caused the burns.

The report states: “Sulphuric acid is a strong mineral acid and readily attacks cellulosic fibres such as cotton. Damage does not always become obvious immediately but a strong mineral acid would only have to be in the fabric a short time before holes appeared.”

Waitakere City Council spokesperson Dai Bindoff says there is still a possibility that the clothes came into contact with the acid somewhere else, but as a precaution the matting around the playground is being replaced.

“The child’s parents reported seeing a clear liquid on the matting, so we are being extra cautious,” he says.

The findings have been reported to the police.

“If the acid was in the park, we must hope that it got there accidentally,” says Mr Bindoff. “There have been no similar reports from other parks, so we believe this was just a one-off incident.”

“The playground is close to the carpark and it is possible that somebody was swapping batteries in a car and put one of them down on the matting for some reason. But we just don’t know,” he says.



Press Release - background

17 November 2007


The children's playground at Harold Moody Reserve in Glen Eden has been closed until further notice, following mysterious damage to a young child's clothing after the child had crawled around rubber matting under play equipment.

Waitakere City Council spokesperson Dai Bindoff says it is to early too speculate as to what may have caused the damage but it is being assumed there was a substance on the matting.

"Fortunately ,the young boy is fine but the clothing is badly damaged and has been sent for laboratory testing to attempt to identify the cause of the damage.

"The council itself does not use any substances that could have been the cause," he says.

Waitakere City Council has erected a fence around the playground and posted a guard to prevent access.

Mr Bindoff says that the council is only aware of one incident but is appealing for anyone who has had anything similar happen, to contact the council call centre, on 09 839 0400.


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