How Safe is Your Deck?

By Barbara Richardson

In April 2002 we reported on the Environmental Protection Agency's order to manufacturers to phase out production of wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), used widely for the construction of rot-resistant structures ("Goodbye to Current Pressure Treated Wood"). For years, consumer and industry advocates have presented conflicting research evidence that arsenic, a carcinogen, can leach in dangerous amounts from structures made from pressure treated wood. Though the EPA "does not believe" that it is necessary for homeowners to remove existing structures, some consumer safety advocates have offered to help those who want to make the decision based on data from their own backyards. If you want to find out if your pressure-treated deck, fence, or picnic table is leaching arsenic, you can obtain testing instructions from the New York Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NYCAP), 353 Hamilton St., Albany, NY 12210; (518) 426-8246. Visit the EPA's list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding CCA-treated wood to learn how to protect your family from potential risk.

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