Pressure Treated Wood

The term treated wood refers to wood that has been pressure treated with a chemical known as chromated copper arsenate (CCA). CCA is an inorganic arsenic pesticide that protects wood from fungi, mold, dry rot, termites, and other pests. Pressure treated wood is commonly used in residential areas; however, as of December 2003, CCA treated wood is no longer available for consumer use.

Pressure treated wood infographic

The following is a list of common outdoor structures that may contain treated wood:

  • Decks
  • Gazebos
  • Playground equipment
  • Fences
  • Walkways
  • Boat docks

Chromated Copper Arsenate and Arsenic Poisoning

Over time, chromated copper arsenate leaches from wood and into surrounding soil, where it can contaminate groundwater and potentially cause toxic chemical exposure for the public. In addition, people who work with treated wood, such as construction workers and carpenters, can be exposed to high levels of CCA. Exposure to chromated copper arsenate can lead to arsenic poisoning and, in cases of extremely high exposure, death.

Health Effects of Arsenic Poisoning

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include:

  • Sore throat
  • Irritated lungs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Decreased production of red and white blood cells

In addition to the above symptoms, arsenic is also known to cause a variety of forms of cancer, including:

  • Lung cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer

Due to consumer concerns, the treated wood industry voluntarily agreed to remove CCA treated wood from the market. By January 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stopped allowing CCA treated wood for residential uses.

Find a Local Chemical Exposure Attorney

Although wood treated with CCA is no longer distributed for consumer use, existing structures could still contain the potentially dangerous chemical treatment. If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by exposure to wood treated with chromated copper arsenate, contact an attorney familiar with treated wood litigation for more information and to discuss your case.

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