Recent articles and updates about arsenic and CCA-treated wood.
For a more comprehensive listing of news, visit the CCA Pressure-Treated Wood Information Site
By Bill Walsh, National Coordinator of the Healthy Building Network
June 29th, 2015
Source: Healthy Building News
The Healthy Building Network released today the first study to rate plastic lumber strictly on environmental and public health priorities.  We found huge disparities in environmental quality, including recycled content that ranges from 0 to 100%. The good news is that the most environmentally preferable products are poised to become the industry standard, with our support.
In response to an HBN survey, over 30 companies provided us with information about their plastic lumber products. We compared the products based upon the materials used, the post-consumer recycled content, and the potential for recycling the product after its service life.
A letter to the Editor of theSan Francisco Bay Guardian by Susan Chiang
June 15th, 2015
From Matthew Hirsch's article ("Between a Rock and a Hardwood," 5/25/05), one might think that we no longer have a problem with arsenic-treated wood. He briefly mentions how San Francisco used to buy wood treated with arsenic but that now it is banned from city purchasing.
Despite this ban on future wood (in 2003), it was estimated in 2002 that 90 percent of existing outdoor structures in the United States are made of arsenic-treated wood. This includes many backyard decks, picnic tables, and playground equipment. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen, linked to lung, skin, and bladder cancer. Arsenic leaches to the wood's surface and can get on people's hands after touching the wood. Young children can ingest the arsenic after putting their hands in their mouths and are at increased risk of cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an announcement recommending that people with arsenic-treated wood structures seal them at least once every year. People should be alerted to this avoidable health risk. To find out more about how to protect yourself from arsenic-treated wood, go to www.safe2play.org or call the Center for Environmental Health.
May 11th, 2015
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have posted on their websites interim results of a two-year study on the effectiveness of coatings (i.e., stains, sealants and paints) for reducing potential exposure to arsenic from chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood used in residential settings.
(See the Sealants and Alternatives to CCA-treated Lumber section of our Documents page for links to both reports.)
For homeowners and others who want to reduce their potential arsenic exposure from their decks or other CCA-treated wood structures, new studies show that use, at least once a year, of an oil-or water-based, penetrating sealant or stain can reduce arsenic migrating from the treated wood. The data show that oil- or water-based sealants or stains that can penetrate wood surfaces are preferable to products such as paint, because paints and other film-formers can chip or flake, requiring scraping or sanding for removal, which can increase exposure to arsenic. By selecting the proper coating for the initial application and re-coating, consumers can help minimize the potential arsenic exposure caused by scraping, sanding and power washing.