Daily News Archive
February 8, 2002
Public Interest Groups Tell EPA to Fully Protect Public from Wood Preservatives
In a meeting with the DC-based environmental health group Beyond Pesticides
on February 6 2002, EPA Antimicrobials Division Director Frank Sanders
would not deny reports of an imminent deal with major manufacturers
of pressure treated wood. Mr. Sanders, in charge of evaluating the controversial
arsenic-based wood preservatives, told Beyond Pesticides that the agency
is always willing to receive voluntary cancellations from pesticide
registrants. He would not confirm, however, whether the agency would
be willing to drop its ongoing risk assessment of chromated copper arsenic
(CCA), one of the major wood preservatives, in exchange for a phase-out
of certain residential uses of the chemical, commonly used in wood products
for decks and playground equipment.
In response to the meeting, Beyond Pesticides fired off a letter to
EPA today, urging the agency to move ahead with a phase-out that is
quick and broader in scope. In its letter, Beyond Pesticides' executive
director Jay Feldman, said, "We are particularly concerned about
the relatively narrow scope of the reported proposal and about the possibility
of a lengthy phase?out period for voluntarily withdrawn uses."
The letter reminds EPA of the petition submitted by Beyond Pesticides
and 12 national, regional and state groups in December 2001 to immediately
suspend the use of CCA and the dioxin-laden wood preservative pentachlorophenol
(penta). The letter continues, "We interpret the Agency's acceptance
of the proposal, as described in press accounts (which you agreed are
"not totally inaccurate"), as tantamount to a denial of most
of the elements of our petition."
In its letter, Beyond Pesticides tells the agency that, "acceptance
of the proposal would prejudice further, more complete regulatory action
by EPA, including completion of the risk assessment. If no further urgent
action is taken, the resulting phase-out of only non-industrial uses
of CCA-treated wood is equivocal to the Agency's approval of continued
CCA contamination and exposure. Exposure to workers, children and the
environment, including soil and groundwater contamination, would remain
un-addressed. Utility poles, approximately half of which are treated
with CCA, will continue to constitute enormous exposure risks."
The petitioners, as indicated in their petition, maintain that EPA has
sufficient data to suspend the use of CCA and penta immediately. Today's
letter states that EPA has a responsibility to oversee a cleanup of
contamination associated with the use of CCA and other wood preservatives.
"The continued presence of CCA in existing structures and their
eventual disposal creates the potential for ongoing human and environmental
exposures," said Mr. Feldman. He continued, "We are confident
that, given the availability of alternative materials, our request for
suspension will not cause economic dislocation."
The letter concludes, "[W]e are extremely concerned that this action
may prejudice ongoing efforts to address broader contamination and exposure
issues. We view the long history of inaction on both these chemicals
and the attendant accumulation of scientific data and experience with
their toxic effects as exceedingly troubling, in light of the daily
adverse impact that they have on children and the public."
Copies of our petitions can be found on our website at www.beyondpesticides.org.
Groups joining the petitions include, Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition
Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Agricultural Resources Center, Center
of Health, Environment and Justice, Clean Water Action, Farmworker Justice
Fund, Greenpeace USA, Healthy Building Network, Learning Disabilities
Association of America, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides,
Pesticide Action Network North America, Vermont PIRG, Sierra Club, U.S.
PIRG, and Washington Toxics Coalition.