CCA-treated wood to be phased out
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced a voluntary decision by industry to move consumer use of treated lumber products away from a variety of pressure-treated wood that contains arsenic by Dec. 31, 2003, in favor of new alternative wood preservatives. This transition affects virtually all residential uses of wood treated with chromated copper arsenate, also known as CCA, including wood used in play-structures, decks, picnic tables, landscaping timbers, residential fencing, patios and walkways/boardwalks. By Jan. 2004, EPA will not allow CCA products for any of these residential uses.
"This action will result in a reduction of virtually all residential uses of CCA-treated wood within less than two years," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Today's announcement greatly accelerates the transition to new alternatives, responding to market place demands for wood products that do not contain CCA. This transition will substantially reduce the time it could have taken to go through the traditional regulatory process."
"This is a responsible action by the industry," Whitman continued. "Today's action will ensure that future exposures to arsenic are minimized in residential settings. The companies deserve credit for coming forward in a voluntary way to undergo a conversion and retooling of their plants as quickly as possible. The transition to new alternatives will provide consumers with greater choice for their building needs."
EPA has not concluded that CCA-treated wood poses unreasonable risks to the public for existing CCA-treated wood being used around or near their homes or from wood that remains available in stores. EPA does not believe there is any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated structures, including decks or playground equipment. EPA is not recommending that existing structures or surrounding soils be removed or replaced.
While available data are very limited, some studies suggest that applying certain penetrating coatings (e.g., oil-based semi-transparent stains) on a regular basis (one re-application per year or every other year depending upon wear and weathering) may reduce the migration of wood preservative chemicals from CCA-treated wood.
During the past several months, CCA-treated wood has been the subject of an EPA evaluation under provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which direct EPA to periodically reevaluate older pesticides to ensure that they meet current safety standards. The Agency is continuing to proceed with a risk assessment. EPA is also continuing to evaluate public comments and input from an external scientific review panel on methodologies to perform a risk assessment for residential settings and potential exposure to children from CCA.
More information on this announcement is available at www.epa.gov/pesticides/citizens/1file.htm