EPA’s Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) for wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is a complete failure. Newly proposed legislation requires that all CCA-treated lumber be affixed with warning labels and that EPA provide Congress with a status report on EPA’s reassessment of CCA

FACT: EPA and the American Wood Preservers Institute (AWPI) entered into a voluntary agreement back in 1986 to ensure that consumers received a consumer information sheet (CIS) when they purchased CCA-treated wood. That agreement is non-enforceable by EPA and consumers have not received the information explaining how to minimize exposure.

ACTION NEEDED: Contact your congress people and urge them to support the Arsenic-Treated Wood Mandatory Labeling Act (S. 877), recently introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). Senators Boxer (D-CA), Kennedy (D-MA), and Dodd (D-CT) are currently cosponsoring the bill. For more information about S. 877 visit the Thomas website at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:s.00877:

BACKGROUND: Wood preserving chemicals remain in the news as elevated levels of arsenic and pentachlorophenol are discovered in soil near treated-wood structures. The heavy-duty wood preservatives, namely the inorganic arsenicals (including chromated copper arsenate or CCA) pentachlorophenol (penta) and creosote, rank among the most toxic chemicals known. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of reevaluating the heavy-duty wood preservatives and is scheduled to publish the Reregistration Eligibility Decisions (REDs) some time in 2003. EPA originally claimed that the REDs would be complete in 1998.

A spotlight was recently aimed at the hazards linked to CCA-treated wood when elevated levels of arsenic were found in soil beneath CCA-treated playground equipment in Florida. Scientific studies have proven that arsenic leaches out of this wood into the soil beneath the structures and onto the surface of the wood. Scientists have established that children often stick their hands and other objects into their mouths. Scientific studies have proven that children playing on and around CCA-treated wood pick up arsenic on their hands from direct contact with the wood and soil. What do you get when you put all this science together? Children are ingesting arsenic as a result of contact with CCA-treated wood and contaminated soil.

EPA has suddenly become much more interested in this hazard to our children. EPA’s reaction has been to make a commitment to complete that portion of the risk assessment for CCA that focuses on children as early as July 2001.

In addition, EPA has admitted that the Consumer Awareness Program for CCA-treated wood has never worked. At a meeting on May 9, 2001 EPA first asked environmentalists for input and then requested that the wood products industry provide the agency with a proposal to enhance the CAP. On June 7, 2001 AWPI unveiled the new CAP for CCA-treated wood. It was a huge disappointment. The CAP remains voluntary, and therefore unenforceable. The labels that AWPI proposes do not inform consumers that the wood contains arsenic, that the arsenic leaches out of the wood or that arsenic is a known human carcinogen. In short, the new CAP is as inadequate as the old CAP.

YOU CAN HELP: Contact your congress people and urge them to support the Arsenic-Treated Wood Mandatory Labeling Act (S. 877). This legislation would require that each piece of CCA-treated wood be affixed with a warning label that states that the wood has been treated with arsenic and that exposure to arsenic can cause cancer, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Of equal importance, the proposed legislation requires that EPA provide Congress with a status report on the agency’s reassessment of CCA within 60 days of the bills enactment.

If you are not sure how to contact your congress people, visit the Thomas website. To locate your senators visit: http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm. To locate your representatives visit: http://www.house.gov/writerep/.

For more information contact:
John Kepner
Beyond Pesticides
701 E Street, SE
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20003
[email protected].