Children’s Heat and Radiation Exposures in Playgrounds and the Role of Bioclimatic Design

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Overexposure to ambient variables such as ultraviolet radiation and extreme heat are major risk factors to children’s health. Many playgrounds are designed in a way that result in higher air and surface temperatures than the surrounding neighborhood, which is due to the predominant use of heat retaining materials and lack of shade. Few guidelines exist to promote the naturalization of playgrounds and the use of shade, which can result in multiple benefits for children apart from lowering heat and radiant exposures. This research addresses child exposures to extreme heat and UV radiation in outdoor playgrounds in Phoenix, AZ and Lubbock, TX and the influence of bioclimatic landscape design. Multiple types of data (in-situ, personal, survey) are presented related to microclimatic and human activity factors that affect child exposures and perceptions. New sensing technologies offer opportunities to understand exposures and monitor children’s exposures while allowing for safe and active play.
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Parks & Recreation
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1. Understand how we can incorporate climate parameters into playground design.
2. Explain why shade and orientation play a key role in extreme heat and radiation exposure.
3. Make a more educated decision with respect to surface types used in playgrounds in a given climate zone.
Jennifer Vanos, Assistant Professor, Departments of Climate, Atmospheric Science and Physical Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, & Family Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, UC San Diego
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