The Q&A Archives: Pressure Treated Wood in Compost

Question: I have approximately a bushel of pressure treated sawdust and wood shavings and would like to know if this can be safely added to my compost pile?

Answer: I would not use the wood chips from the wood in your compost. There is controversy over whether the preservatives leach from the wood, possibly contaminating soil. Some say the arsenate in the CCA-treated lumber doesn't leach out and have studies to prove it. Others say some does leach and have their own studies. I tend to err on the side of caution and say don't use it. Also, consider wearing a dust mask when working with the wood--I understand that studies have shown that it can be harmful to inhale sawdust from pressure-treated wood. (Don't burn scraps either.)

The EPA has a web site with research papers on the subject; you might check out the following web site for more information. Thanks for writing.

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