Wood Playgrounds and Picnic Tables: Arsenic Danger Zones?

May 25, 2001 (Washington) — Arsenic, arsenic all over. Fear over arsenic introduction, from water and presently from wood, is becoming a recognizable national news topic.

Within the wake of the Bush administration’s suspension of previous President Clinton’s intense benchmarks for arsenic in drinking water, environmental activists are presently alleging big arsenic risks within the treated wood items used for family relaxation.

As portion of a chemical blend called CCA, brief for chromated copper arsenate, arsenic is regularly put into treated wood for decks, picnic tables, wooden playgrounds, gazebos, and other open air items. CCA protects wood from dry rot, fungi, molds, termites, and other bothers.

In the event that it’s ingested, arsenic can lead to cancer, nerve damage, regenerative framework harm — and conceivably death.

But it’s not so clear that the treated wood actually permits ingestion of sufficient of the toxin.

This week, the Environmental Working Group asked the Buyer Products Safety Commission to ban the treated wood in playground gear.

“We know that arsenic in drinking water is unsafe for children, but what we found was that the arsenic in lumber is an even more prominent chance,” said the group’s Renee Sharp. “In less than two weeks, an normal 5-year-old playing on an arsenic-treated playset would exceed the lifetime cancer hazard considered acceptable beneath government pesticide law.”

In reaction, the American Wood Preservers Institute said that the think about was misleading and fiery. Whereas it concedes that CCA chemicals can “filter” out of wood in follow sums, it said the environmental group claims went as well distant. The American Wood Preservers Established speaks to the wood treatment industry.

To reach the dangers charged by the environmental group, the established said, a child would got to play on a wood playset every day for five a long time, CCA would have to be exchanged to the child’s hands at 100% of its concentration within the wood, and the child would have to lick 31% of that amount off his or her hands.

Mel Pine, representative for the wood treatment group, tells WebMD, “There is a long history of safe use, as CCA treatment of wood has been around since the 1930s. There’s not a single ponder of anybody being harmed by typical use.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- Calif.) backs the boycott, but the Environmental Protection Organization has its questions.

An EPA spokeperson tells WebMD, “From all the science that we’ve seen, there’s nothing out there that shows that typically a risk for anybody. Right now, all signs are that there are no health hazards.”

At the same time, the EPA is examining CCA, its utilize in playground equipment, and its impact on children. The EPA has asked that wood treaters step up their endeavors to fully advise the open of what’s in treated wood and security exhortation for working with the product.

“It’s something that can see unsafe to the open, so we are aiming to proceed to examine this,” the organization representative said.

In the interim, the wood bunch says it is prescribing to the industry that treated wood be labeled and sold with the taking after information: that it contains CCA; that consumers ought to not burn disposed of treated wood; that customer ought to use a dust cover and goggles when cutting wood; which buyers should wear gloves when working with wood. The trade association is also setting up a 1-800 customer number that will show up on treated wood names. Calling the phone number will deliver shoppers extra safe dealing with tips.

And what should you, the buyer, do meanwhile?

The environmental group recommends sealing arsenic-treated wood structures every year with polyurethane or another difficult lacquer.

Pine says that sealing the wood is necessary as it were each two a long time or so.

According to the natural bunch, children ought to only eat off an arsenic-treated outing table in case it is covered with a tablecloth, and that children should wash their hands after playing on arsenic-treated surfaces, especially before eating.

“Both of those are good counsel and make sense,” Pine says. “But I think that both of those would be great advice indeed on the off chance that it wasn’t treated wood.”

The Environmental Working Group is urging retailers and playground hardware producers to switch to “more secure options” to CCA-treated wood.

Alternatives to arsenic-treated wood are more expensive but will become more available over time, Pine says.

At the same time, sales of arsenic-treated wood haven’t suffered, he claims. “Individuals are immersed with notices almost things. If you studied the warning on your toothpaste tube, you’re attending to say, ‘Oh my God, in case I swallow a little as well much of this, I need to call poison control.’ I think individuals take a part of this with a grain of salt.”

Nevertheless, Pine concedes, public attention to arsenic-treated wood has continued over the past few a long time. Why?

“Just the word ‘arsenic’, and the fact that there is a few chemical,” he tells WebMD. “Individuals want to be risk- and chemical-free.”

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