Daily News Archive
Pressure Treated Wood Distributing False Information
Pesticides, July 25, 2003) In July 2003, Beyond Pesticides sent
a letter to EPA informing the agency that retailers of chromated copper
arsenate (CCA) treated wood are distributing false and misleading information
concerning the safety of this pesticide treated wood. This mis-information,
particularly a brochure entitled "Questions & Answers Concerning
Pressure Treated Lumber" with the "ProWood" logo on it,
is an apparent effort to contradict or downplay safety and precautionary
information in Consumer Information Sheets that are to be distributed
with CCA-treated wood as part of EPA's Consumer Awareness Program (CAP).
Following a 1984
special review, EPA instituted CAP to mitigate the hazards of CCA use
by informing consumers at the point of sale about some of the dangers
of the wood and inform them about safe handling practices. EPA found
risk mitigation measures necessary to assure that the use of CCA-treated
wood does not pose unreasonable adverse effects. These measures were
needed in order to continue the registration of CCA. EPA specified certain
information and the precise wording to be furnished to consumers in
the form of Consumer Information Sheets (CIS) at the point of sale.
In 1986, the agency changed CAP to a voluntary program but did not amend
the language it specified for inclusion in CISs.
The ProWood Q&A
brochure, which was being distributed by Home Depot in June 2003, contains
quite a number of false and misleading statements that directly contradict
the language specified by EPA. For example:
care as with any wood." This statement in the Q&A brochure
refers to the CIS but then says that "[b]asically you should
exercise the same care that's recommended when you work with any wood...
when sawing, wear safety glasses and a dust mask...."
Safe is CCA? Very Safe." This statement suggests that CCA
treated wood could and should be used anywhere. Moreover, statements
claiming pesticides are "safe" have long been unacceptable
to EPA and have been prosecuted as violations of FIFRA and undermine
the EPA-mandated precautions.
Can I Use Pressure Treated Wood for a Picnic Table and not a Countertop?
Simply because picnic tables are primarily used for serving prepared
food while kitchen countertop is used as a cutting surface for raw
This assertion seriously undermines EPA's mandated statement: "Do
no use treated wood under any circumstances where the preservative
may become a component of food or animal feed...." Common sense
suggests that children's food will inevitably come into contact with
a picnic table surface and the brochure seriously misleads consumers
about the danger that situation poses.
Treated Wood be Used in Gardening? Yes... to construct raised vegetable
and flower beds..." This assertion contradicts EPA's mandated
warning "Do no use treated wood under any circumstances where
the preservative may become a component of food or animal feed...."
Heard That Children Shouldn't Play on Decks & Playgound Equipment
Made of Treated Wood? Relax. That's simply untrue. CCA treated wood
is fully approved and widely used to build playground equipment..."
[followed by assertions about studies by the California Department
of Health and the Consumer Products Safety Commission.] The statement
suggests that no precautions are needed, and might even induce people
to build new playground equipment out of CCA.
In its letter to
EPA, Beyond Pesticides calls for the agency to immediately contact ProWood
and the other treated wood industry groups to advise them that this
practice is unacceptable and in violation of the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and CAP. The letter also calls
for an immediate enforcement investigation of this situation and for
appropriate sanctions. For more information on CCA-treated wood, see
Beyond Pesticides Wood Preservatives program