Whether you’re buying a new car for yourself or a small toy for one of your kids, personal safety is a major concern for any consumer. The same is true when it comes to colored mulch. Mulch producers, landscapers and home owners alike all want to know the product they’re using is safe. That’s why mulch colorant manufacturers like ChromaScape put so much care into crafting products that are safe for people, pets and the environment. Let’s explore some common safety concerns to see why colored mulch is a fun, decorative and safe addition to any landscaping project.
Is colored mulch safe to use?
Yes. Colored mulch and the colorant used to produce it pose no significant threat to manufacturers or end users. Colored mulch can be handled just the same as any other mulch.
At ChromaScape, our mulch colorant products are specially formulated so they’re no more dangerous than common household substances like vinegar or liquid dish soap. The main ingredients in our formulas are commonly used pigments, such as carbon black dispersions and iron oxide, with water as a main carrier. Iron oxide pigments and carbon black dispersions are often used in food container packaging or in cosmetics.
While pigment carbon black can be hazardous if particles are airborne in breathable quantities, the form of carbon black we use is suspended in liquid. Therefore, the carbon black dispersions we use pose no threat to consumers or workers who produce or install colored mulch fiber.
To ensure our products are safe, we submitted our Heartland Ultra Colorants to an independent, accredited laboratory for testing. After being studied for acute exposure through ingestion, inhalation, dermal contact, and eye contact, the results showed our colorants qualify for Category IV, the lowest-concern category the test recognizes.
What about VOCs?
More and more people are becoming aware of the potential dangers caused by volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. According to the American Lung Association, VOCs “are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes. Some are harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.” So, under specific circumstances, there’s certainly cause for concern when it comes to VOCs. But that isn’t the case with colored mulch or Amerimulch colorants used to produce it.
Using water-based formulas, ChromaScape intentionally avoids VOCs that can be harmful to users or to air quality. While our colorants may contain trace amounts of VOCs, they appear in such tiny quantities that they don’t pose a threat to consumers. In fact, depending on the shade and color, all of ChromaScape’s colorants can be classified as either “VOC-Free” or “Low VOC” based on EPA guidelines. This means that landscapers and consumers need not worry.
However, VOCs are regulated by the government, and those regulations vary widely across the country. Mulch producers should check with their local air quality regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with all local and state regulations.
While personal safety is always the top priority, many people are equally concerned about environmental dangers — and rightly so. Protecting the environment is critical for preserving not only the mulch industry, but our way of life as inhabitants of planet Earth.
Thankfully, colored mulch and mulch colorant are both safe for the environment. The major pigment components are iron oxide (rust) and carbon. These are present to various degrees in all soils and pose no added risk to most plants. Of course, some plants are extremely sensitive to any change in environment. Ask a landscaper if you’re especially concerned about your plants and they should be able to recommend proper environmental controls for them.
At the end of the day, mulch colorant really only poses an environmental threat if there’s a large spill. That’s why it’s important for any mulch producer to make sure they have proper spill cleanup measures in place. Those include spill prevention protocols, having absorbent material on hand, training employees on proper tote handling and cleanup procedures, and having guards in place to prevent any contamination to bodies of water or groundwater systems.
In the event of a spill too large to handle on site, please contact your local fire department and/or an emergency response contractor. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact your ChromaScape representative. They are there to help and can answer any safety questions or alleviate any concerns you or your customers may have.