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Q: Safety of Pressure-Treated Wood ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Safety of Pressure-Treated Wood
Category: Health > Children
Asked by: pressurewood-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 01 Jul 2006 18:19 PDT
Expires: 31 Jul 2006 18:19 PDT
Question ID: 742712
Will painting pressure-treated wood make it safer for children? We
bought the pressure-treated wood at Lowes Home Improvement Store this
month and are building a deck. We have an 8 month old baby who is
learning to crawl. Will painting it make it safe for her to crawl on
Subject: Re: Safety of Pressure-Treated Wood
Answered By: eiffel-ga on 02 Jul 2006 12:38 PDT
Hi pressurewood-ga,

Pressure-treated wood provides an economical way to obtain durable
timber for outdoor construction. However, the chemicals used in the
treatment are harmful.

  "Arsenic is a component in the most prevalent wood preservative
   formulation in use. This formulation is known as CCA, which
   stands for chromated copper arsenic. Deep penetration of the
   water borne formulation is achieved by application under high
   pressure. The most common formulation results in a wood
   concentration of the Cr, Cu, and As of between 0.1-0.2%"

   Arsenic in Pressure Treated Wood
The above quote is from a report by the Department of Analytical Chemistry of
the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. From the same article:

  "Studies have shown that virtually no inorganic arsenic is
   absorbed through the skin, but is readily taken up by
   ingestion. Thus, the potential exposure is hand to mouth,
   and therefore, children are considered the most vulnerable
   to this potential risk."

The same Department also tested various barrier treatments, and found
a reduction of more than 95% in the arsenic dislodged from the CCA
wood surfaces when coated with polyurethane deck and porch enamel,
latex acrylic solid color stain, or spar varnish. Oil-based products
averaged around 90% reduction.

The report recommends coating existing treated timber, and also
advises to keep pets and animals out of under-deck areas, because
chemicals that have leached out of the timber tend to build up in the

Other groups give similar advice:

  "Seal arsenic-treated wood structures every year with
   polyurethane or other hard lacquer. Don't let children
   eat at arsenic-treated picnic tables, or at least
   cover the table with a coated tablecloth. Make sure
   children wash their hands after playing on arsenic-
   treated surfaces, particularly before eating."

   Poisoned Playgrounds - Arsenic Treated Wood

  "Seal wood structures every year with polyurethane
   or another hard lacquer"

   Ottawa Stops buying Pressure Treated Wood

  "The Environmental Working Group ... recommends sealing
   wood structures every year with polyurethane or another
   hard lacquer."

   US Government to Restrict Pressure Treated Wood

On a personal note, I built a treehouse for my kids using
pressure-treated wood. After I discovered how toxic it was, I sealed
it with outdoor-grade polyurethane deck treatment. In addition to
providing a barrier between us and the poison, the polyurethane makes
the wood look much nicer and feel much nicer.

Subject: Re: Safety of Pressure-Treated Wood
From: jellybellyma-ga on 17 Jul 2006 20:57 PDT
Due to founded concerns about arsenic the EPA has banned the use of
Arsenic in residential use. The new approved wood is called ACQ. Check
your local lumberyards for availability.
Nearly 40 million lb. of arsenic is used in this country every year,
and most of it goes into the pressure-treated wood that we use to
build decks and playgrounds. But that all changes Jan. 1, 2004. The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is banning chromated copper
arsenate (CCA) as a preservative for wood intended for residential use
(except for the lumber that is used in permanent wood foundations).
More copper makes the wood more expensive
To make the new preservatives effective, their copper content has been
boosted substantially -- from around 18% to 96% in some cases. Because
ACQ and copper azole contain so much more copper, you can expect to
pay from 15% to 35% more than you paid for CCA lumber. The cost varies
because the amount of chemical treatment varies. CCA wasn't that
expensive, so most CCA lumber was given a maximum dose of
preservatives and rated for ground contact.
ACQ Preserve® Treated with ACQ®, an environmentally advanced copper
and quat preservative system that is arsenic- and chromium-free.
Provides long-term protection from rot, decay, and termites without
the use of any EPA-listed hazardous chemicals
ACQ pressure treated lumber is ideal for decks, fencing, and all kinds
of outdoor building needs. ACQ was developed to provide long term
protection against rot, decay and termite damage in above ground,
ground contact, and fresh water applications. Unlike ordinary pressure
treated wood (CCA), ACQ contains no arsenic, chromium, or other
EPA-listed hazardous chemicals. ACQ was developed in response to a
growing concern about the chemicals used in pressure treated lumber
and their impact on the environment.

more info also available at:

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