Cancer-Causing Wood Treatment Banned - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/26/04

Cancer-Causing Wood Treatment Banned

For decades, park benches, decks, playground equipment, and other outdoor products have been built with wood. To preserve the wood from rotting, most of it was treated with a chemical called Chromated Copper Arsenic, or CCA. Health officials have found the chemical to be cancer-causing, especially for children exposed to it long-term.

"All the treated material on a residential house right now, I would say, was probably treated with CCA," Ron Beard, manager of Quality Lumber and Supply in Whitehouse, said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, at the end of December, put a ban on CCA-treated wood for home use. But stores are allowed to sell out the rest of their current supplies. So how can you tell if you have CCA-treated wood products?

"Without being able to see a tag on it, the treated wood should be green in tint," Beard said.

Un-treated wood does not have the green dye.

If you own products treated with CCA, the EPA has some advice. Don't let food come in contact with the wood on picnic tables. And make sure children wash their hands before eating.

The lumber treatment industry says newer, safer chemicals will let them limit the use of CCA for commercial wood. One chemical slowly gaining popularity is Ammonium Copper Quaternary, or ACQ.

"The CCA, I think, it's been so widely used and so used for so long, that there's a lot of places that you won't see the ACQ come into use yet," Beard said.

ACQ is an arsenic-free alternative, safe for exposure to people.

The EPA has some more safety tips for handling CCA-treated wood: Never burn the wood. And if you work with it, always wear protective gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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