Safety Commission Denies Ban on CCA-Treated Playground Equipment
(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2003) On November 4, 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to deny a petition to ban the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) pressure-treated wood in playground equipment. The routes of exposure to the arsenic from CCA-treated wood are well documented, according to Beyond Pesticides. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen with a plethora of acute effects including eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, characteristic skin lesions, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart function, blood vessel damage, liver and/or kidney damage, and impaired nerve function causing a "pins and needles" feeling.
CPSC cites a voluntary agreement to phase out CCA treatment of wood for most consumer uses by the end of 2003 between CCA manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as its reason for rejecting the petition. CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said, "The industry has already agreed to stop using this chemical as a treatment for wood for most residential consumer uses. The EPA action effectively addresses the petitioners' request."
Environmentalists believe that the CPSC decision leaves children in harm's way and was based more in politics than science. According to EWG analyst Renee Sharp, "In less than ten days, an average five year old playing on an arsenic-treated playset would exceed then lifetime cancer risk considered acceptable under federal pesticide law."
Children are more susceptible than adults to the effects of arsenic exposure since their bodies and organ systems are still developing, and they absorb more pesticides per body weight. A 12-foot section of pressure-treated wood contains about an ounce of arsenic - enough to kill 250 people.
See CPSC press release.