Hazards

  • Treated wood may contain Chromated Copper Arsenicals (CCA), Creosote, or Pentachlorophenol.
  • Chromated Copper Arsenicals (CCA), the wood preservative used in pressure treated wood, is not considered hazardous to humans with limited contact. However, precautions are recommended for working with CCA treated wood.
  • Creosote is typically used on telephone poles, railroad ties and marine lumber applications. Creosote is a tar-like material containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which are carcinogenic.
  • Pentachlorophenol can be absorbed through the skin. Although health effects due to limited exposure in humans is unknown, exposure of this chemical to certain animals has caused sickness and death.

Handling

  • Aged creosote or CCA-treated wood can be reused in landscaping, although it is preferable to not use it where food crops will be grown.
  • Do not burn in a fireplace because toxic compounds may be emitted.
  • Wear gloves when handling wood, wear goggles and a dust-mask when sawing and sanding.

Management Options

  • Householders may dispose of treated wood in the trash, although local size restrictions may require pieces to be cut.
  • Larger loads of treated wood must be delivered to a transfer or processing facility. If you have a vehicle that can deliver a load of wood yourself, consult the MassDEP Active Handling Facility List to determine the location nearest you and call ahead to make sure treated wood is accepted there. Otherwise, check the Yellow Pages or search online for disposal contractors who can pick up the load and take it to the appropriate disposal facility.

*For more detailed information about the health risks associated with pressure treated wood, see: Pressure Treated Wood: Questions & Answers