CCA-treated wood (November 2001)

November 10, 2001

D. Barrie
Smiths Falls, Ontario

Dear Ms. Barrie,

I am writing to you now to express CAPE’s support for your efforts to
achieve a ban, or at the very least a sharp restriction in the use of wood
treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA).

As you are no doubt aware, this substance was originally developed in the
1930’s, in an era when toxicity testing of industrial chemicals was
negligible. It has come under increasingly scrutiny since the 1970’s, with
voluntary warnings sought from companies by the U.S. E.P.A. in 1984, and
increasingly through mandatory warnings today. There is a regulatory process
in place to set out voluntary warnings in Canada next year.

We feel that such a toxic substance – in particular one containing arsenic
and inorganic chromium, both of which can act as neurotoxins – should no
longer be used as a wood preservative. CCA leaches from the wood in which it
is impregnated, and can cause dermal toxicity of considerable significance.
Ash from burned CCA-treated wood is highly toxic, and can contribute to the
burden of dangerous fly-ash currently generated by municipal incinerators.
It is particularly reprehensible that CCA-treated wood is still used in
locations where children or pregnant women might have contact with it –
given that these are the most susceptible sub-populations in our society.

If there were no alternatives, government regulators might be forgiven for
allowing CCA to continue to be widely used. But less toxic alternatives
exist. One of these is ACQ (description will be inserted).

In short, you are to be commended for coordinating attempts to achieve an
elimination of CCA-treated wood, or at the very least its sharp restriction
and the placement of stringent and detailed warnings about its used and
toxicity. CAPE wishes you well in your ongoing efforts.

Warren Bell MD



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