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Nova Scotia Lumber Industry Doing Well After Canadian CCA Phase-Out
(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2003) According to the Halifax Herald Limited, Nova Scotia's pressure-treated lumber industry is doing just fine after last year's phase-out of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) -treated wood. "It's had no serious negative impact on our business," Gordon Murray, vice-president and general manager of treated lumber company Stella-Jones Inc. told the Halifax Herald Limited. The phase-out, in which producers agreed to stop manufacturing and selling CCA-treated wood by the end of this year, affects all non-industrial uses such as playground structures, patios, decks and boardwalks.

The move, supported by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, was a response to public concerns about the dangers of arsenic, a natural poison that, through long-term exposure, can cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or jaundice and has been linked to cancer.

Mr. Murray said Stella-Jones, which employs about 30 people at its Truro facility, has been substituting amine copper quaternary in its non-industrial treated lumber since last April. "We were the first plant in Canada that stopped using CCA for consumer lumber," he said, noting the chemical can still be used for industrial applications like utility poles and wharf pilings.

Local retailers who have yet to market the new product say prices will likely be higher. But the manager of Home Depot in Halifax, which switched over to lumber treated with amine copper quaternary this year, said they are comparable. "Our prices are competitive with (copper chromated arsenate) or cheaper," Dan LeBlanc said. Mr. LeBlanc explained that Home Depot hasn't advertised the switch outside its stores, but response from consumers concerned about arsenic exposure has been positive. "It's definitely a plus for consumers who believe arsenic is a threat."

In February 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a similar agreement with the U.S. wood preservatives industry to phase out the manufacture of CCA-treated wood for residential purposes by December 31, 2003. (See 68 FR 17366, April 9, 2003). If signed by the Governor, a recently passed Maine law will expedite the federal agreement by prohibiting the sale of all residential uses, as outlined by EPA, by April 1, 2004. Under the federal agreement, already existing residential CCA-treated wood and structures may continue to be sold and used, and could be stockpiled and sold for years to come.