Don't Play With
As the summer building season approaches,
there's little to warn consumers
CCA (chromated copper arsenic) will be phased out for all residential uses as of December 2003, but it is still a popular consumer product for many outdoor uses, including children's play sets.
What most consumers don't know is that
the wood is now banned in all 15 European Union counties. An EU risk assessment
found that CCA posed unacceptable environmental and health risks, and made
special mention of its dangers for playground use. America's top
product safety agency, the Consumer Safety Commission, released a report
earlier this year confirming that children who play on play sets made of
CCA wood could face an increased lifetime risk of
Meanwhile, the Canadian Labour Congress
has joined the Communications Workers of America (CWA), representing utility
workers, and environmental groups including Beyond Pesticides and the Center
for Environmental Health as plaintiffs in a lawsuit. The suit asks US courts
to force the Environmental Protection Agency to halt all uses of the wood
preservatives CCA, pentachlorphenol (penta) and creosote. They say the
EPA has "overwhelming data" regarding the health and environmental risks
posed by these pesticides, and that safer, affordable alternatives exist.
Penta is classified as a probable carcinogen and a known endocrine disrupter. It is contaminated with dioxin, classified as a known human carcinogen. Creosote is a mixture of toxic chemicals and is recognized as carcinogenic and a nervous system disrupter.
The American Wood Preservers Institute
(AWPI), the trade association representing the treated wood industry, has
recently closed up shop. The AWPI has consistently maintained that CCA
is safe, and that arsenic does not leach out of the wood. Reasons given
for the association's demise include the fact that the AWPI has been named
as a defendant in 9 recent lawsuits, and that their insurance carrier has
decided "not to fully participate in our defense."