Daily News Archive
From April 10, 2002

Connecticut Issues Warning on CCA Treated Wood

Connecticut is concerned about continuing exposure from existing structures built with wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and has issued guidelines to help its residents protect themselves from exposure to the treated wood. The arsenic in CCA is a known human carcinogen and has been linked to nervous system damage and birth defects. CCA-treated wood products are used in decks and patios, picnic tables, playground equipment, walkways and boardwalks, landscaping timbers and fencing.

EPA recently announced a voluntary phase-out of CCA by the pressure-treated wood industry. After December 2003, wood for residential uses may no longer be treated with CCA. However, this wood can continue to be sold off until supplies are exhausted.

While the phase-out is a positive first step, environmentalists argue that it does not adequately protect public health or the environment. All existing structures, including decks, picnic tables and playground equipment, will remain untouched by the phase-out. The agreement also ignores the disposal issue.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner told the East Hartford Gazette (April 5, 2002), "[They] are gratified to see that CCA-treated lumber will be replaced with alternatives that will be safer for children. However, there are many outdoor structures already in existence that are made with this type of wood." Therefore, the DPH has released recommendations on reducing the risk of childhood exposure in a fact sheet entitled, Pesticides Used in Pressure-Treated Wood which include:

§ Sealing existing structures every one to two years with a weather resistant coating;
§ Keeping children and pets from under deck areas where arsenic may have leached;
§ Cutting the wood outside and wearing protective clothing;
§ Not using the wood for compost bins or around garden beds;
§ Not growing food near the wood structures; and,
§ Not sanding CCA-treated structures.

For a copy of the DPH guidelines see www.dph.state.ct.us/Publications/BCH/EEOH/pressurtr.pdf or call 860-509-7742.