Sandpits can become unclean when animals, particularly cats, and children use them as toilets.
Toxoplasmosis can be spread from cats/animal dropping to humans through dirty sandpits. A study in Brazil reported that school playgrounds in primary schools were heavily contaminated by T. gondii oocysts (dos Santos TR, Nunes CM, Luvizotto MCR et al., Detection of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in environmental samples from public schools, Vet Parasitol 2010;171:53–57). Children may become infected by putting dirty hands, including oocysts, in their mouths. Insects can live in damp sand and may bite or sting children.
If a sand pit is left to deteriorate, it will reach a point where it needs to be dug out and replaced. The cost of digging out and replacing sand can be expensive. In fact, a professional maintenance program over a 5 year period may cost less than digging out and replacing the sand just once.
Improving Microbiological Hygienic Quality. In addition to removing hazardous items and leaf litter, regular sifting allows light and air to penetrate the sand. This acts to disinfect and freshen the sand and helps avoid anaerobic conditions (some which can be toxic). As a result of sifting, the hardened sand will be broken down and therefore the end result will be soft sand.
Those responsible for playgrounds and sandpits not only have a duty of care to maintain that location but need to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the area is as safe as possible. Part of any comprehensive safety program should include a regular, professional maintenance program.