New restrictions in place for arsenic-treated timber

29 June 2012
Reference Code: 
2012/02

New restrictions on the use of copper chrome arsenate (CCA) for treating timber come into place from 1 July 2012. CCA has been used to preserve wood in a variety of situations such as for telegraph poles, decking and fencing. It was also used for children's playground equipment.

The APVMA began a review of CCA timber treatments in July 2003, following concerns that arsenic could be absorbed through the skin or after swallowing, or inhaled if the treated timber was burnt. In March 2005, the APVMA advised that CCA was not to be used in timber for playground equipment or other high-contact structures.

"Following this review, CCA has now been declared a restricted chemical product from 1 July", APVMA Pesticides Program Manager, Dr Raj Bhula, said.

"This means CCA products can only be supplied to, and used by, suitably trained persons authorised under a relevant state or territory law from that date.

"The APVMA does not have regulatory powers to control the use of CCA-treated end-products—our powers extend only to the point of sale of the chemical itself—and this step tightens up the requirements for industry and retailers to ensure users of such products are well-informed of the risks and permitted uses."

CCA can continue to be used on timber intended for outdoor uses such as telegraph poles, fencing and landscaping.

It cannot be used on high-contact timber structures: this includes garden furniture, picnic tables, exterior seating, children's play equipment, patio and domestic decking, and handrails.

"The APVMA reminds users and retailers that CCA-treated timber must be clearly identified with the words 'Treated with copper chrome arsenate' up to point of first use. This requirement has been in place since March 2005", Dr Bhula said.

People concerned that they may have CCA-treated product could check with the retailer or builder who provided the product or consider painting the suspect product to prevent any potential leaching.

Resources

If you would like more information regarding CCA-treated timber, you can read the Government of Western Australia's 'Stay safe around copper chrome arsenate treated wood' web page.

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