Washington, D.C. — The Environmental Working Group has found that the risks of being exposed to arsenic from chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood are just as great in old, worn structures as with freshly treated lumber.
The group conducted several tests in 45 states, and showed that the age of wooden structures had no effect on arsenic exposure. Through tests, the group also claims that arsenic in soil near or under the structures had levels several times higher than the cleanup standard at national Superfund sites. Specifically, wipe tests found production of between three and 10 times the arsenic now allowed in drinking water.
While the group did not recommend taking down the structures, it suggested that the treated wood could be sealed every six months to prevent arsenic exposure to humans. It also suggested replacing high-exposure sections with another type of wood, having children wash their hands after playing on the structures, and covering picnic tables with a tablecloth before using.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet reviewed the group’s results but plans to conduct its own risk assessment next year. Last February, U.S. manufacturers of the treated wood agreed to phase out its commercial use by December 31.