Playgrounds & treated pine

Poison On The Playground? Arsenic-Treated Wood Structures Raise Concerns – By Katrina Woznicki, MedPage Today Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9-Children live a hand-to-mouth existence — what’s in or on the hand all too often goes in the mouth. That’s why there’s a growing concern about the health effects of backyard decks and wooden play sets.Until 2003, the wood used to make those structures was treated with the preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA). The worrisome factor in that compound is the arsenic — a naturally occurring metal that is both poisonous and carcinogenic. The Wood Preservative Sciences Council — an industry group — says CCA-treated wood products “have been used safely and effectively for more than 70 years” and the “amount of arsenic individuals might be exposed to on a CCA-treated wood structure is extremely low.”Independent scientists and physicians aren’t so sure. Michael Shannon, M.D., of Children’s Hospital in Boston, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Environmental Health, notes that there’s evidence that children are more susceptible than adults to the adverse effects of arsenic exposure.
“Those data suggest children who routinely play on decks or playgrounds on pressure-treated wood are having an exposure to arsenic,” he said. Indeed, a study conducted in Canada shows that children who play on CCA-treated wooden play sets wind up with more arsenic on their hands than those playing on other wooden sets. The study, published in the October 2004 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, looked at the hands of 66 children playing in eight CCA playgrounds and compared them with the hands of 64 children playing in eight non-CCA playgrounds. After play, children’s hands were washed in a bag containing water and the solution was analyzed for arsenic. The researchers, led by X. Chris Le of the University of Alberta, found that, on average, the kids playing in CCA playgrounds had more arsenic on their hands.More.. to the decision to ban CCA treated timber
There has certainly been plenty of press since the decision to ban CCA by the APVMA was made public recently. Of course the timber preserving industry and the timber industry, particularly in New Zealand, were quite vocal and vitriolic. According to the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation they stand to lose around $50 million .
“This could be the end of our markets of treated timber to Australia,” TIF executive director Wayne Coffey said. “The APVMA has obviously been captured by an extreme interest group who, in spite of scientific knowledge to the contrary, have managed to convince the authority that CCA treated timber is somehow a hazard to human health,” Mr Coffey said.So our little urban community conservation group of around 6 active members with an average age of 55-60, who spend every other weekend removing rubbish from roadsides, or revegetating degraded areas of bush, or opposing inappropriate development, has suddenly been elevated to an ‘extreme interest group who managed to capture the APVMA’. This is so very typical of self-interested corporations who are purely profit driven; overstate the losses, understate the danger and use terms such as ‘extreme’, ‘radical’, ‘ratbags’, ‘greenies’. We’ve heard it all before.Well this time the New Zealand and Australian timber preserving industries have been unable to get their way. A very small group of dedicated people, from all walks of life, who stood by their convictions, carried out and paid for their own research and put forward some very sound scientific arguments as to why CCA treated timber is a danger to the public, especially children, managed to convince the APVMA to carry out a review. The timber industry had the same opportunities that we had to put forward their case to the APVMA during the review process, though no doubt their budget was slightly bigger than ours. It is clear from the outcome that their argument was weak and lacked the scientific rigour required to convince the authorities otherwise. We had plenty of support from many others during the very long and drawn out review, including National Toxics Network, Friends of the Earth, Warren Godsen, and Annie Stanton (our community rep on the APVMA Consultative Committee). Great work everyone.As for the statement about ‘losing $50 million’, the article below is a good example of their hypocrisy and how industry can overstate the losses. This is an article from the website of TimTech chemicals, who are involved in the preserving industry in N.Z., commenting on the withdrawal of CCA from the U.S. market.Smooth transition post CCA in North AmericaBut it wasn’t all plain sailing for many timber treatment plantsINDUSTRY in North America is reporting a relatively smooth transition to timber treatment alternatives.Five months into the phase-out of CCA, many treaters say it is business as usual with most claiming bigger margins on their higher costs, says a Random Lengths report. Another surprise has been the growing demand for lumber treated with borate for interior applications, the cost being much less than CCA or the substitutes ACQ and copper azole.The recent American Wood Preservers Association Centennial Conference in Vancouver was a good forum for learning about the transition. Observations by New Zealand delegates, reported in TimberFed News, provide interesting and timely information for the Australian industry.The voluntary decision by industry in the US to remove CCA treated timber in residential applications has passed the transition date of December 31, 2003. So how smooth was the transition process from CCA to new alternative treatments such as ACQ and copper azole?Reports from US and Canada suggest that the transition was reasonably smooth from CCA although Canada was unable to treat with ACQ or CCA in some industrial applications due to delays in registration for ACQ and copper azole treatment. Some retailers are now reporting an increase in sales with some CCA treated wood from 2003 still available in limited amounts.Some treaters say ACQ and Copper Azole penetrate better than CCA making timber conditioning easier. While upgrading a treatment plant is a huge undertaking it has given companies an opportunity to address long overdue maintenance issues that have previously been overlooked……..”So there you have it, ‘bigger margins on their costs’, ‘growing demand’, ‘timber conditioning easier’, does that sound like a loss-making venture?