Florida Law Firm Prepares To Sue Over CCA-Treated Wood

Davie, Fla. -- The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, which wants to begin a class-action lawsuit against chemical manufacturers, lumber retailers and wood treaters who deal with chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood, has persuaded the council of Davie, Fla., to agree to have 10 random sites tested for high CCA levels and found that seven of them exceeded the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) "residential cleanup target levels."

In February, manufacturers agreed to phase out the chemical by the end of 2003 because of its links to cancer, but at the same time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that there was no reason "to remove or replace CCA-treated structures, including decks or playground equipment."

According to many, the results are confusing at best. According to Bill Hinkley, chief of the state's Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste, arsenic requires long-term exposure, and the results do not specify timeframes.

"Just because you're over the level doesn't mean there's a human health risk," Dr. David Johnson of the state's epidemiology department told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We have to look at where it's at, how deep it is in the soil, what are the chances of exposure, how often and what age groups there are."