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Hotel guest shares photo after finding concerning landscaping material outside: 'The most flammable'

"[I've] personally seen a garden bed catch fire."

"[I've] personally seen a garden bed catch fire."

Photo Credit: iStock

A Redditor shared a concerning discovery that showcased the ubiquity of pollutants in the environment.

In the r/mildlyinteresting community, the poster wrote, "The red 'bark' in the planters of this new hotel are actually recycled plastic, presumably tires."

"[I've] personally seen a garden bed catch fire."
Photo Credit: Reddit

They included a photo of a few pieces of the faux mulch, which they had picked up and laid out on their palm.

"It's called rubber mulch," one user said. "It's a very common landscaping product that is used pretty universally in place of wood mulch because it lasts much longer but is a bit more expensive. It's also used on playgrounds, horse arenas, etc."

The problem is that rubber mulch is dangerous. 

As another commenter pointed out, it's "the most flammable mulch." They cited studies that showed rubber mulch burned hotter and faster than wood mulch and created bigger flames, which an Angi article backed up, citing information from multiple tests.

In an age of increased — and increasingly devastating — wildfires and other extreme weather events, including drought, the risk of using the product outweighs the reward.

According to Chris Enroth, a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, rubber mulch also poses other risks to the environment, as toxins leach into soil and "heavy metals, plasticizers, and accelerators" are released into the atmosphere as it decomposes. 

What's more, rubber mulch contains known carcinogens. According to the Guardian, "The chemicals [in crumb rubber are] associated with cancer and other illnesses at certain levels of exposure." 

Shredded tires, which are also used as infill on artificial turf surfaces, include volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 2-mercaptobenzothiazole, and latex.

"The EPA has found these chemicals cause cancer, headaches, nausea, contact dermatitis, and allergies," according to Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch, which makes an alternative rubber mulch made of playground safety tiles that it says is non-toxic. "Not to mention damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, central nervous system, and reproductive system."

Whether you need mulch to rewild your yard, grow your own food, or spruce up your landscaping, it's best for your health and the environment to turn to natural mulch, which breaks down into the soil and, in turn, feeds your plants.

"Yeah [I've] personally seen a garden bed catch fire from some crackling embers from a patio fire pit," one Redditor wrote. "The layer of rubber [mulch] took a little bit to fully ignite but once it did it was pretty insane."

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