If the playground is built to public playground safety standards (see link which has a section on tires), then the tires should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for other potential hazards like metal in steel-belted tires. Additionally, they should have drainage holes in the bottom so that water does not collect in them, a potential breeding ground for mosquitos and other bugs.
Tires are a safe and great material for playgrounds, planters, swings, and other projects. Tires used in playgrounds are cleaned and safe, and there is no gasoline or dangerous residue left on them before construction. Also, tires naturally become safer over time. New tires straight from the store have a strong, chemical smell that goes away over time. This is because through oxidation (the same process as rust) the chemicals, through exposure to oxygen, become harmless. Check out the sites below for more information.
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