The Q&A Archives: Safety of Pressure-Treated Wood

Question: Is there any danger of arsenic or other dangerous chemicals leaching into the soil and therefore into crops grown in a raised bed garden made with pressure treated lumber? D Swartz Danville, PA

Answer: There are two sides to the story concerning the safety of pressure treated wood in gardens. One says such products are safe, and cites studies showing little or no leaching of arsenate for years. The other side has it's own studies and says heavy metals and toxins do leach at dangerous levels. So, I err on the cautious side and recommend gardeners not use pressure-treated wood, especially for food plants. Try cedar, redwood, hemlock, plastic wood or cement blocks as alternatives. If you already have the wood in place, line the inside with plastic to reduce the risk of the chemicals leaching into the soil.

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