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Memo to Activists:

State Legislation Introduced to Ban Toxic Wood Preservatives

Model legislation has just been introduced in California to ban the production and use of the three heavy-duty wood preservatives, chromated copper arsenate (CCA), pentachlorophenol (penta), and creosote. The legislation also repeals the current exemption from hazardous waste law that treated wood enjoys. The bill, SB 202, introduced by Senator Gloria Romero on February 13, 2003, can be found on the Beyond Pesticides website.

The bill cites EPA's failure to protect the public's health from wood preservatives over a 20-year period and the international movement to remove these chemicals from the market. Penta and its contaminants, dioxin, furans, and hexochlorobenzene are considered by the United Nations Environmental Program to be persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These contaminants are restricted under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants signed by the United States in 2001. The Commission of the European Union has moved to severely restrict creosote and curtail CCA. The high risks to children and workers are well-documented.

Other states can also consider introducing this model legislation. As background, a model state wood preservatives legislation kit is now posted on the Beyond Pesticides website. It includes a memo on the California legislation, a factsheet on wood preservatives, and a copy of the SB 202. On the website, access is provided to numerous other documents which describe the long history of federal inaction on toxic wood preservatives.

Please do not hesitate to contact Jay Feldman or Jessica Lunsford for more information and assistance on this.

Jay Feldman and Jessica Lunsford