I Poisoned Myself For Years, And Didn't Know It.

Discussion in 'Places and People' started by Dedbr, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. Dedbr

    Dedbr Domestic War Veteran

    EPA announces ban on CCA wood for residential use

    The US EPA has announced a transitional ban on the production of CCA wood for residential use. Read the full text at the
    EPA Website by clicking on this link. What is CCA pressure treated wood?

    Most woods are susceptible to attack by fungus and insects. To make wood more resistant to attack, insecticides and anti-fungal agents can be added.

    CCA wood - also called pressure treated wood - is the green-tinged lumber sold in almost every home center and lumberyard in America. It has the indisputable benefit of being highly resistant to rot and insects. The lumber is treated with a pressurized solution containing Copper, Chromates and Arsenic, hence the name CCA lumber. It is sometimes sold under the brand name "Wolmanized" Lumber.

    Soft wood is injected with an aqueous solution of Copper, Chromate and Arsenic under pressure. The arsenic is chemically bound in the wood by the chromate, and the copper gives it that slight greenish tint. The solution is water based, which is why the wood often feels damp at the lumberyard.

    CCA treatment leaves about one ounce of inorganic arsenic in each 12 foot 2 x 6. This is enough arsenic, if released, to kill about 250 adults.

    How is arsenic released?

    CCA pressure-treated wood contains arsenic which can be released from the wood in several ways:

    • When the wood burned
    • Mechanical abrasion
    • Direct contact
    • When acid contacts the treated lumber.
    Burning:Incineration of CCA wood does not destroy arsenic. It is incredible, but a single 12 foot 2 x 6 contains about 27 grams of Arsenic - enough arsenic to kill 250 adults. Burning CCA wood releases the chemical bond holding Arsenic in the wood, and just one Tablespoon of ash from a CCA wood fire contains a lethal dose of Arsenic. Worse yet, Arsenic gives no warning: it does not have a specific taste or odor to warn you of its presence. No one disputes that the ash from burning CCA wood is highly toxic: It is illegal to burn CCA wood in all 50 states. This has serious implications for firefighters, cleanup and landfill operations.

    Even more astonishing, minute amounts of 'fly ash' from burning CCA pressure treated wood, can have
    serious health consequences. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a family that burned CCA in a wood stove for winter heating. Their hair fell out, all family members suffered severe, recurring nosebleeds, extreme fatigue and debilitating headaches. The parents complained about 'blacking out' for periods of several hours, followed by long periods of extreme disorientation. Both children suffered frequent seizures described as 'grand mal'. The symptoms were finally traced to breathing minute amounts of arsenic laden dust leaking from the furnace as fly ash. The family's houseplants and fish died, too, victims of copper poisoning from the same dust. Peters HA, et al: Seasonal exposure to arsenic from burning CCA wood. JAMA 251:(18)2393-96, 1984)

    Mechanical abrasion:
    CCA wood particles are released when the wood is sawed, sanded or shaped. So far, no studies have been done on these effects, but the warning card stapled to each bundle of CCA wood warns about avoiding sawdust.

    Direct Contact:
    In a study conducted by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the authors found that arsenic is released to the child's hand by direct contact with arsenic-treated wood. The amount ingested per day was estimated to be about 7 micrograms per day. This should be compared against an estimated 5 micrograms estimated in food and 5 to 100 micrograms (ppb) in drinking water.

    Acid release:
    The same Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station study found an average Arsenic concentration of 76 ppm under old CCA treated decks. The range was from 3 to 350 ppm, and the state limit is 10 ppm. It is suspected that acid rain and acidic deck washes can hasten release of arsenic from the wood.
    How does arsenic affect me?

    Back to you:
    The concern is that released arsenic can find its way into our bodies, the food chain and groundwater. Will arsenic in CCA ash leech out of landfills into water supplies? No one knows. Arsenic can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. One-tenth of a gram accumulated over a two month period can produce death, and arsenic is carcinogenic at much lower levels. The EPA limit in water is currently 50 ppb, and proposals to lower it to 2 ppb are in place.

    Besides release of arsenic, another concern is the release of Arsine gas. Arsine gas has been used as a nerve gas, and is made by reacting zinc and arsenic in the presence of an acid. Building a deck using galvanized nails in an area of acid rain could theoretically cause this reaction, although the volume of Arsine gas would be expected to be low. Storing CCA wood ash in a galvanized bucket may be asking for trouble, however.

    Click on the 'Arsenic' tab to the left to read more about arsenic toxicity, Signs of Arsenic poisoning, and Arsenic poisoning treatment.

    How much should I be concerned?

    More than a little. Besides the extreme toxicity of CCA ash,
    newer studies have shown that arsenic can be rubbed off by contact with CCA wood and leech out of CCA wood in significant amounts.
    What precautions can I take?

    Fortunately, several are effective.
    Use a pressure treated wood which does not contain arsenic: Several pressure treated wood formulations which do not contain arsenic are available right now. Your lumberyard may carry these under the trade names of "ACQ" or "Kodiak Wood", or they may be listed as preserved with ACQ (Ammoniacial Copper Quaternary), copper azole and/or copper citrate. All are arsenic-free and effective against rot and insects: the US EPA says they are safe, and the American Wood Preservers Association says they work. If your lumberyard does not stock these, they can order them. You might be interested to know that these are the wood-preservation formulas used in Japan and Europe, where CCA treated wood is banned.

    Seal existing construction:
    If you already have a CCA wood structure, seal it every two years with a waterproof sealant, paint or stain. Do NOT use acid deck wash or brighteners as these have been suspected to accelerate release of arsenic from CCA wood. Sealing your deck can reduce arsenic leeching by 90% (reference).

    Never burn CCA wood!
    The resulting ash is highly toxic. Read more about CCA ash effects on humans and animals on the 'Arsenic' tab to the left. At this point, CCA wood can only be disposed of in special land fills. Check with your local waste agency for precautions and regulations. Let's all hope that arsenic in the wood stays in place as it decomposes.

    Take precautions when cleaning up after a CCA wood fire
    If you have a fire of a CCA wood structure, like a deck or gazebo, you MUST treat the ash as toxic, because it is. Again, ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin of 1 Tablespoon of this ash can be lethal to an adult. Wear a respirator rated for asbestos dust, and fully cover all exposed skin including hands and face. Disposable Tyvek suits are available through most Industrial supply companies like Grainger.com, McMaster.com, etc. have your clothing rinsed down before disrobing.

    New construction:
    Don't add arsenic to your backyard. In particular, plants can take up arsenic from the soils, so it may not be a good idea to use CCA wood in gardens. See the paragraph above on arsenic-free alternatives. Make your local lumberyard aware of the dangers of arsenic.

    What can I do?

    The only reason that CCA wood is still used is economics: it is 5 to 10% cheaper than other wood treatments. Using this logic, it would be sound practice to use asbestos as an insulation material in schools because it's really cheap at the moment. I am informed by the local Home Depot that they are switching away from CCA wood. We'll see.

    Contact your local elected representative
    about the unnecessary dangers of living with arsenic in your backyard. Propose tariffs, taxes or a levy on CCA lumber. The added expense will make the safer treatments more widely available, and provide a handy financial resource for what could become the biggest cleanup operation in history.

    Write your state or Federal Environmental agency
    make them aware of the dangers of arsenic in CCA wood, and tell them we the risk outweighs the benefit since safer alternatives are available.

    Get an arsenic test of your soil
    . Do you have small children who may play under the deck? Concerned about a house with an old deck that you are looking at? Do you live in an area of Acid Rain (which may leech arsenic out of CCA Wood)? Get an arsenic test of the soil under the deck. Click on the Test Labs' to the left..

    Look into Arsenic Abatement
    . Click on the 'Alternatives' tab to the left.
    CCA wood in Gardens

    There are very few studies on gardening and plant exposure to CCA wood and wood ash. In a study conducted by the
    Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the authors found that Romaine lettuce grown in containers with varying degrees of CCA wood sawdust picked up arsenic from the soil, in proportion to the concentration of arsenic in the soil. The amount of arsenic per 50 gram serving of lettuce was measured at < 1 µg (the control) and 10 µg of arsenic for lettuce grown in the heaviest arsenic/soil concentrations.

    While these are not alarming in themselves - the usual dietary intake of inorganic arsenic is between 4-12 µg/day - this test does confirm that arsenic can be taken up from the soil by plants. It certainly raises questions about the uptake of other plants, and raises the question of what might happen with root crops.


    Links Here is a page of
    links to other sites on CCA lumber, including a link to the Wood treatment industry page. [​IMG]

    It is our intention to have this a completely factual forum for the discussion of the risks and benefits of CCA and other pressure treated woods. If you would like to contribute, correct errors, have an idea, gripe, link or comment, contact me,
    Richard Martin . I want to make this a balanced public forum, and as factual as possible. I would be happy to add your comments or counterpoint to our comment page.

    [SIZE=-1]Liability: This site is intended as a discussion site only to present only factual information about arsenic and its effects on the environment. This site is not intended to either promote or denigrate any product over any another. The Author assumes no liability beyond the liability to correct material facts in error.
    Richard Martin

    Austin, Texas USA 78703
    Page updated: April 2002
    Page hosted by OriGen Networks as a public information service.

    I feel ill. I've done a lot of risky things in my life as far as chemicals and paints, things like that, but I sure wish someone would of mentioned this to me when I first started doing carpentry work. I have ate it and breathed the dust and sanded it and made stairs out of it and a thousand other things. I sure was never warned that a 12 foot long 2x6 had enough arsenic in it to kill 250 people. I would of never touched it.

    I feel really weird, like a bad, old friend just showed up. :rolleyes: Come to think of it, I probably smoked a few joints with arsenic in them. :( Damn, I feel sick to my stomach already...........

    The sad thing is I am just one of tens of thousands who have been exposed to this crap..........:help:

    Only in Ded Land..............:toocool:
    5 people like this.
  2. Kushy

    Kushy down

    It sounds like you're giving in to the placebo effect. If you had felt ill BEFORE reading this article, your worries about arsenic poisoning would have merit. But it's interesting how you're only feeling ill now that you realize that you came in contact with it years previously.

    My mom had a longtime friend over at our house a couple months back and she was writing a book about the placebo effect and how essentially every illness is caused by stress. Not that the illness is caused by stress, but stress can lower the immune system making the illness much more capable of being contracted. She told me about some studies done with the ebola and some other viruses'. In the studies one group of people came in contact with the virus but were not told they were infected. Very few of them actually contracted the illness. The other group also came in contact with the virus but were told they had been infected. Everyone in the group became infected... pretty wild.
    My point isn't that you won't contract a virus if you're not told (some people's immune systems are already weak enough), but the point is that playing into the fear and anxiety of knowing that you came in contact with something is enough to cause you stress, lower your immune system, and give the illness, whether it's a virus or a chemical a chance at messing with your body. Rambling now, but anways, I know it sounds silly, but fight against your minds' placebo effect.. telling yourself it's all in your head may be more effective than it sounds
  3. AstroCoaster

    AstroCoaster Sr. Member

    And unknowingly people burn it in bonfires all the time.
    2 people like this.
  4. vvicked0471

    vvicked0471 Super mod

    I remember reading an article along similar lines about the chemicals used in telephone poles. It's amazing to think about all the things in our daily lives that could, and actually may be, killing us...
  5. HappyBoy1981

    HappyBoy1981 Senior DEA Agent

    Its a good thing that you're taking Medical Marijuana to combat the symptoms. :D
  6. Dedbr

    Dedbr Domestic War Veteran

    Lord yes, just imagine how sick I'd be if I didn't have it........:D

  7. MrIMStoned

    MrIMStoned |BIG BROTHER|

    And probably have eaten food cooked over it.
  8. Buzzby

    Buzzby Buddhist Curmudgeon

    On the bright side, arsenic doesn't accumulate in your body forever. Just like THC metabolites, it gradually leaches out and is eliminated in urine. You can get tested for arsenic levels. If they are acutely high, doctors can give you chelating agents that will speed the elimination. If they are low, you can speed elimination by eating a lot of garlic.

    Arsenic is most dangerous when repeated, frequent exposures overwhelm the body's ability to eliminate it.

    Check this out.
    3 people like this.
  9. Dedbr

    Dedbr Domestic War Veteran

    I've had customers call me and ask me why their new deck was wet all the time, to which I replied, "It will dry out, just let it get a few good rains on it to leech out the excess preservative." Funny thing is she called later complaining about her grass dying and stuff around where we posted it into the ground.......:rolleyes:

    3/4's of the time there was no warning tag on the boards we used, no skull and crossbones to warn anyone about the damage this stuff can cause. And the poor folks that cut and used these boards, we had no idea about the dangers. There were no warning labels anywhere in the lumber yards. At least a can of paint has a warning label about inhaling the fumes and to make sure you use in well ventilated area...........

    It makes ya wonder, is there going to be a class action suit against the company? I went on a tour of one of the main places they were making this wood and it was like a toxic waste dump in there, folks running around in bio suits and respirators, big vats of the stuff sitting around with lumber soaking in it, being made ready for the pressurization process......:(

    Like IM said, how many ate food cooked over cut-outs of the stuff? Breathed in the fumes from a fire? Let their babies play on the new deck? Probably got arsenic all over their hands and stuff.............

    Sad, just sad........:help:

  10. Ghost of Gravity

    Ghost of Gravity New Member

    I work off an on as a contractor and since day 1 I have been warned about wolmanized lumber. But I always wear a mask when I cut wood and know to never burn it. I've built plenty of decks and never experienced the grass die in the area around it. Pretty much as long as you aren't burning it our eating it you don't really need to worry...

    I've seen what can happen to a house that didn't use CCA treated wood, and if you aren't very vigilant on maintaining it, it can be an expensive and dangerous situation. I put my foot through a second story deck...I was fortunate it was only a foot. Then entire deck is rotted away and most of the houses framework is destroyed by carpenter ants and termites.
    2 people like this.
  11. The_Bishop

    The_Bishop New Member

    3 people like this.

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