Q: Is my CCA-pressure-treated wood table poisonous?

— D. P. Krause, Delphi, Ind.

A: Kevin O'Connor replies: I did some digging and found that the Environmental Protection Agency has been conducting tests to figure out the best ways to eliminate or reduce the risks of exposure to wood treated with CCA, a preservative made of copper, chromium, and arsenic. CCA was banned from residential use in 2004, primarily because of its arsenic content.

The EPA issued a preliminary report in May suggesting that you can reduce the risk of arsenic exposure by applying a penetrating stain or sealant at least once a year. It also contains this warning: "Always wash hands thoroughly after contact with treated wood, especially prior to eating and drinking, and ensure that food does not come into direct contact with any treated wood." The report goes on to say there isn't any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated wood, including decks and playground equipment.

To see the preliminary report, go to the EPA's website, epa.gov, and search "sealant studies." The final report should be out b January 2006.
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