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CPSC staff still studying use of CCA-treated wood.

CPSC staff plans to issue a briefing package on the potential hazards of playground equipment treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) next month. The chemical has been used to preserve wood from infestation by insects and fungus.

A pro-regulatory group, The Environmental Working Group, claims CCA poses certain cancer risks, and petitioned CPSC in 2001 asking for a ban in the use of CCA treated wood in playground equipment. (6)

Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the industry voluntarily would phase out CCA-treated wood for consumer use by the end of 2003. And as of January 2004, EPA will not permit the use of CCA-treated wood in residential settings.

CPSC staff is preparing a study investigating how much CCA exposure children receive from playing on CCA-treated wooden playground equipment. Arsenic, the component causing the government's concern, is also found in rocks, soil, and water and in the air. But neither EPA nor CPSC can say whether exposure from consumer use of treated wood is hazardous.

A recent item in The American Enterprise magazine suggests the perceived hazard may be overblown. The article states that a study by a group of physicians appointed by the Florida Department of Health has recently concluded that the alleged hazards from CCA-treated wood is unproved. The medical group reviewed scientific literature on the subject and declared that the amount of arsenic involved "is not significant compared to natural sources, and will not result in detectable arsenic intake ..." (7)

The magazine also quoted an EPA official as saying that despite the federal government's future ban on CCA-treated wood for residential use, EPA is still doing a risk-assessment that is incomplete.

Question: Does that mean that the government believes CCA is harmful, or not? This promises to be another long regulatory exercise.

(6) "CPSC & EPA Both Consider Issues Related to CCA-Treated Wood," CPSC Monitor, September 2002, Vol. 7 Issue 9.

(7) "Another Green Scare," by Tait Trussell, in The American Enterprise, January-February, 2003.
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Publication:CPSC Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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