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NY Legislature Passes Bill Requiring State to Seal CCA-Treated Picnic Tables
(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2003)
According to the Associated Press (AP), a bill passed June 18, 2003 by the New York State Legislature will require all CCA-treated picnic tables to be periodically maintained to prevent arsenic from seeping into the soil, if signed into law by Gov. George Pataki. The bill (A8707-A), sponsored by Assemblyman David Koon (D) and Senator Dean Skelos (R), applies to existing picnic tables on public property, including parks or highway rest stops, that are coated with chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, a powerful pesticide used to protect lumber from decay and insect damage.

"I believe when the Legislature discovers something that is a clear and present danger to its citizens, especially young kids, we have an obligation to act," Senator Dean Skelos told the AP. "It presents that type of a danger when people are eating off of picnic tables."

CCA-treated wood is used in about 90 percent of all outdoor wooden structures such as picnic tables, decks and playground equipment. Earlier this year, New York banned the use of CCA-treated wood in new playgrounds and requires that existing playground equipment is sealed as well.

Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said that while she would like to see all existing CCA-treated picnic tables be removed from public places, the measure passed last week was a good first step. "It's a good thing that these picnic tables will be treated," Ms. Haight told the AP. "While sealing them may not be the perfect solution to the problem, it's better than nothing."

In February 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with chemical manufacturers to phase out the manufacture of CCA-treated wood for residential purposes, such as decks and patios, picnic tables, playground equipment, walkways/ boardwalks, landscaping timbers, and fencing, by December 31, 2003. 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. Beyond Pesticides is currently involved in a lawsuit against EPA to ban CCA and other wood treatment chemicals.

View the text of the NY bill online at http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi, enter bill # "A8707-A" and check the box(es) for "text," "summary," and/or "sponsor's memo."