The RIC Good Wood Guide

Take Care if You use Treated Timber!

by The Good Wood Advisory Centre

(See also Treated Timber as TOXIC WASTE, and Don't Drink the Water!, below)


If you work with treated timber:

  • To avoid inhaling dust and sawdust from the wood, wear a respirator with a functioning, approved cartridge rather than just a paper mask 1.
  • Use sealed dressings on any cuts or abrasions when working with treated timber. Wash sawdust from hands and face before eating or using the toilet. Food or drink should not be left exposed to machinery, dust or treated timber.

  • Treated Timber as TOXIC WASTE

    For disposal of large quantities of CCA-, LOSP-, ACQ-treated wood wastes, local council permission should be sought. At this stage, it seems that, officially, the best thing to with unwanted CCA-treated wastes, is to bury them in special, clay-sealed trenches that are nowhere near any watercourses. This is a far from ideal or workable solution. The one hundred thousand tonne mountain of CCA-treated timber which is discarded each year worldwide is continuing to grow at an accelerating rate. It is unthinkable that humankind can persist in burying its problems in this way. (ACQ, the so-called alternative treatment to CCA because of its supposed lower toxicity to animals and the environment, is likewise still a potentially toxic unknown when it comes to means of disposal).

    Warning: CCA-treated timber should not be incinerated to dispose of it: the volatilisation of arsenic from wood containing copper-chrome-arsenic salts would be too great a health hazard.

    Don't Drink the Water!

    During 1996, townspeople in Western Victoria were warned about possible arsenic contamination of their water supply after CCA timber treatment solution was discovered leaking from a CSR pine treatment plant.

    1. The quality of disposable masks has improved over time. Paper masks are now made which give a good air seal around the edge, but which are easy to breathe through. The best masks nowadays are powered to provide a constant stream of fresh air whilst filtering out dust and protecting the eyes (eg, Racal Health & Safety make a range of powered and disposable masks - ph: 1800 803 086). In commercial applications it is best to install a dust and fume extraction system to keep the whole work atmosphere clean (see Dust & Fume Control Equipment in your Yellow Pages).

    2. See the book, The Plantation Effect - about the New Zealand experience of human and environmental diseases associated with the chemical component parts of CCA, etc.


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