Industry Phasing Out Arsenic-Treated Lumber For Residential Use

Compiled By Jill Jusko Arsenic-treated lumber no longer will be available for residential use by Dec. 31, 2003, announced Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman. Whitman said the wood-treating industry has voluntarily decided to phase out the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which contains inorganic arsenic, as a preservative for most residential uses. The move affects virtually all residential uses of CCA-treated wood, including that used in play structures, decks, picnic tables, landscaping timbers, residential fencing, patios and walkways. This decision follows what has been an intense storm of controversy surrounding the use of CCA-treated lumber in residential settings, with critics claiming it poses a health risk. The nearly two-year conversion to alternative wood preservatives will provide the industry with the time it needs to retool equipment and practices, and to convert treatment plants with "minimal economic disruption" to the industry, the EPA says. Manufacturers expect production of CCA-treated lumber for the affected residential uses to drop by up to 25% in 2002. The EPA has not concluded that CCA-treated wood poses unreasonable risks to the public. It is not recommending that existing structures or surrounding soil be removed or replaced.

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