Washing that wood deck could be hazardous to your health

 CCA-treated lumber even more dangerous when wet, scientists report

There are plenty of reasons why composite decking is preferable to wood. Fiberon® composite decking won’t splinter, rot, or decay, and it’s easier and less costly to maintain. Here’s another great reason to choose composites over wood: your health.

If you own a pressure-treated wood deck that was built prior to 2004, it is almost certain that chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was used as a lumber preservative. Arsenic and chromium, both carcinogens, have been found in CCA-treated lumber. In 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pressured the lumber industry to discontinue its use. Even so, there are many CCA-treated decks still in use today, and that is cause for concern.

Researchers from the University of Florida discovered that when CCA-treated wood decking gets wet (even from something as innocent as a light rain or morning dew), arsenic leaches at a rate three times that of dry wood. Pressure washing increases the amount of arsenic released. Adding bleach to the process causes chromate to form as well. What’s more, scientists have shown that the rinse water used to clean a CCA-treated deck contains levels of arsenic and chromate well above regulatory limits. The bottom line: CCA-treated lumber presents serious health risks to people, pets, and the environment.

Tips to keep your family safe

If you are the owner of a CCA-treated wood deck, here are some of theresearchers’ recommendations to mitigate your exposure to these dangerous chemicals:

  • Avoid skin contact with wet decking, especially right after cleaning with bleach.
  • Keep pets and children off the deck when it is wet.
  • Don’t grow vegetables in soil near the deck.
  • Wash children’s hands after they have played on or near the deck, and don’t offer them snacks when they are in contact with CCA-treated wood.
  • Replace CCA-treated wood with a safer alternative; however, don’t cut or burn the offending boards since arsenic will be present in the sawdust, smoke, and ash.

 

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Ready to upgrade? Consider Fiberon composite decking

And, if you’re thinking it’s time to replace your old deck – no matter what the reason -- consider Fiberon composite decking. With colors and grain patterns that rival natural wood and price points that fit almost any budget, there’s really no reason to settle for a wood deck. Plus, Fiberon decking is easy to maintain, designed to last for decades, and manufactured without any harmful chemical preservatives. So you can create an outdoor oasis you can enjoy safely for years to come.

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