How to Avoid Pressure-Treated Lumber Injuries
Pressure-treated lumber is all around us. It is used in decks and raised patios, playgrounds, fences, and other outside fixtures.
Today, pressure-treated lumber is safe for use in any setting. Many stringent safety procedures are in place to ensure that products shipped out for use by construction companies in building projects are safe for the public. But a few years ago, chromated copper arsenic, also known as CCA, was used as a preservative in pressure-treated lumber against molds, fungi, termites, and other pests.
We know that arsenic poisoning causes serious illnesses and deaths, and it was known for causing illnesses among construction and lumber workers in the past. While CCA is no longer used in pressure-treating, some wood treated with CCA is still in our environment. (From the 1970s to the early 2000s, the majority of wood used outdoors was treated with CCA.)
CCA-treated wood that has been tossed out can leach into the ground and become a serious health hazard for you, your children, and the people in your community. The rate that arsenic leaches out depends on several factors, including local climate, rain and soil acidity, how old the wood is, and how much CCA was used. A more serious risk is presented when pressure-treated lumber is burned.
How to Protect Yourself from Arsenic Poisoning
Arsenic poisoning caused by exposure to pressure-treated lumber is very rare, and can be avoided. Even after 45 years, a Wood and Fiber Science article found that soil contamination was “minimal.” That said, there are many different things that you can do to reduce your family’s risk of exposure, and it’s important to pay close attention to your surroundings to know if and when it’s time to take action.
- If you move into an older home with an old deck, fence, or play structure, and you are not sure when it was built, have it removed immediately.
- If you know that your structures were built with pressure-treated lumber prior to 2004, you should remove this wood from your property.
- If any old wooden structures are near a garden or a water supply, like a well or irrigation system, have the soil and the water tested for arsenic.
- If you live in an older home that may have clay pipes, you should also have the water supply in your home tested for arsenic.
- Never burn treated wood, or wood you don’t know whether or not it’s been treated.
Arsenic poisoning is a serious matter and can lead to serious illnesses, developmental disorders, and death if not dealt with immediately. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, pain in the extremities (hands and feet) followed by numbness, decline in mental abilities, headaches, drowsiness, and diarrhea. Take the security of your wood structures, your food sources, and your water supply seriously to protect your family.