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Stop EPA From Taking A Deadly Turn With Acid Copper Chromate (ACC)

[See also: EPA's letter to Arch Wood, Inc. requesting additional data and latest articles by Inside EPA (2/27/04) and Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News (1/19/04).]

An EPA source confirmed circulating reports that Arch Wood Protection, Inc. in Symrna, Georgia and other companies are attempting to bring back another deadly chromium-based wood preservative, acid copper chromate (ACC), to replace CCA (chromated copper arsenate) just as CCA becomes phased-out of residential wood products (such as playground equipment and decks) in January 1, 2004 by a voluntary agreement reached by industry and EPA in February, 2002.

CCA drew public and media attention because of its arsenic component, but public health advocates have also pointed to the chromium component as resulting in exposure to a highly carcinogen compound. While ACC does not contain arsenic, it does contain as much as 65% hexavalent chromium (also known as chrome VI)- which is double the amount of chrome VI in CCA. Chromium, like arsenic, is a known human carcinogen responsible for drinking water contamination, worker illness, and soil and air degradation. It is also linked to health problems such as kidney and liver damage, lung cancer and respiratory effects, birth defects, and skin ulcers. ACC is also an antimicrobial pesticide, which is considered even more toxic and potentially harmful to human health and ecology than regular pesticides.

Osmose, Inc., a wood treater and supplier of wood preservatives to wood treating plants around the world, was the sole registrant for ACC but ironically just recently cancelled their registration. Once the cancellation is completed and no new registrations are approved then that any company hoping to use ACC in pressure-treated wood would be subject to all the tests and data requirements of a brand new registration, according to an agency official.

According to the Agency source, something strange is going on in the wood preservative industry because a number of additional companies were seeking ACC registration when Osmose canceled. "I don't know what will happen higher up," the source said, "but scientifically the chrome issue in ACC is not resolved so we don't think it will be registered soon." However, other sources have warned that the "higher up", or Mr. Stephen Johnson, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, a veteran EPA civil servant and now political appointee, may be making a decision as early as this week on whether to grant a new ACC registration to Arch Wood Protection, and others.

Groups and individuals are being urged to write, fax or call Mr. Stephen Johnson, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances and voice dissatisfaction and concern about a shortcut registration of a cancelled product as dangerous as ACC.

Mr. Stephen Johnson can be reached for comments:
by email, phone at 202-564-4711, or fax at 202-501-1470

For more information:

See Beyond Pesticides Daily News story
Or for more background information on CCA, wood preservatives and safer alternatives see Beyond Pesticides's publication CCA Risks and Alternatives Resource Kit or Poison Poles.