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Pressure Treated Wood 

CCA Poison Wood

This is a Special Report by Julie Hauserman which appeared in Family Circle Magazine dated 02/11/03.  I have posted a portion of it here on our page so that you may have resource information which could be valuable to your decisions pertaining to the treatment of your deck and wood surfaces.  Also, I have included a short question and answer section about health issues and some advice about how to handle treated wood which were included in the article.  Clear Blue is always researching the industry to provide the latest and most professional treatment processes available to care for your property. 

Renee Krasnokutsky and her husband built a playhouse, tire swing and a slide all out of pressure treated wood they bought at a local home-improvement store in Atlanta, GA. for their 4yr old son Robert. After playing on the fort one evening as it was called Robert's fingers became red, with little blisters. Renee thought it was poison ivy and treated as such. The next evening Robert complained that his legs and stomach was hurting after playing on the fort again, that evening Robert got worse with a red rash all over his body. Renee thought of the fort and called her mom to find out what she could about treated wood on the internet, and took her son to the hospital. Robert progressively and intermittently became nauseous, developed shortness of breath, nasal irritation urinary changes and a low grade fever. After a lot of frustrating calls to medical and government officials who offered no insight on arsenic exposure, she decided to have the rain water that came off the fort into her son's plastic bucket tested for arsenic. The lab results showed arsenic and chromium-hexavalent chromium, a highly toxic compound. Her son was diagnosed with a viral infection and allergic reaction, and only by the grace of God they found out he was exposed to poison wood. They have removed the fort and soil around it and Robert no longer shows those symptoms and has recovered 100%.

    Pressure treated wood is impregnated with powerful pesticide mix called CHROMATED COPPER ARSENATE or CCA. This compound preserves the wood against the elements. The wood will be voluntarily taken off the market by the end of 2003 for use in areas that are likely to come in contact with people, including decks, picnic tables and playground equipment. But CCA treated wood will still be available for other uses. This is only one of many cases around the country of arsenic poisoning do to CCA treated wood where the victim recovered, most of them either are partially paralyzed or have died.

HEALTH Q&A ABOUT CCA WOOD

Q: How can arsenic affect you?
A: Chronic exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and other health problems. You can pick up minute levels of arsenic from touching treated wood or soil contaminated with arsenic. The main route of exposure is hand-to-mouth. You touch the wood or contaminated dirt, then eat, smoke or put your hands in your mouth. You can also inhale arsenic sawdust when working with the wood. Smoke from treated- wood fires is toxic, and the ash is hazardous. Arsenic poisoning can also cause neurological problems like numbness and paralysis.

Q: How much risk does it pose?
A: While acute poisoning is rare, a Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection toxicologist says there's a possibility children may pick up enough arsenic during their childhood years playing on treated wood playgrounds to increase their risk of cancer later in life.

Q: How can I get my neighborhood play- ground tested?
A:
Call your local government.

Q: How do I know if my wood is CCA? A: If it's not redwood, cedar, or cypress, it's probably CCA, the most popular outdoor wood for decades. Some- times, the wood has a greenish tint from the chemicals.

HOW TO HANDLE TREATED WOOD

CLEANING: Do not use bleach when you pressure-wash CCA- treated wood, and don't use
commercial "deck brighteners" on the wood. With CCA wood, bleach creates a nasty form of chromium-hexavalent chromium-and the pressure wash will spread it allover. Use water alone to clean your deck. Don't buy deck brighteners that contain sodium percarbonate or sodium bisulfate to use on a CCA deck
.

REPAIRING: Don't sand it, or you'll end up with sawdust that has enough toxic chemicals in it to rank as hazardous waste.

PROTECTING: Seal it. Every year. Although the wood is supposed to be low-maintenance, if you want to keep arsenic and chromium from leaking out, you have to put some type of barrier on decks and play sets. What kind of sealant? "There's no clear sealant that stands out above the others, but sealing is better than not sealing," says Tim Townsend, a University of Florida researcher who has been studying pollution from CCA wood. An EPA Scientific Advisory Panel says polyurethane sealants are a good bet. Some parks use a product called "Deck and Shake" (www.deckandshake.com). Other studies suggest using an oil-based stain. Few studies have looked at how the sealants hold in arsenic and chromium over a long period of time. That's why experts say to seal it every year. Painting the wood works, but it may peel later, which means sanding, which creates arsenic and chromium dust. Also, there's a concern that kids might eat paint chips coated with arsenic and chromium. 

PICNIC TABLES: If you have an arsenic-treated picnic table, never put your food right on it and never cut things on it. Put a tablecloth over it at all times. Consider replacing an arsenic- treated picnic table altogether.

 GARDENS: Be aware that the soil near CCA posts has arsenic in it, and some studies show plants absorb it. Also, be cautious about recycled wood mulch. Some researchers have found that the mulch contains arsenic from old CCA wood. An Arizona doctor actually found a plastic CCA lumber label in the "Play Safe" mulched wood chips he bought to help cushion his children's falls.

For More Information Contact:

CLEAR BLUE Pressure Washing
18 Lupton Lane New Bern, NC 28560
Tel: 252-671-6134
FAX: 252-745-4944
clearblue53@gmail.com

 

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Last modified: February 13, 2011
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