Burning treated wood can be hazardous to your health
(NC) As the temperature starts to dip and the snow gets ready to fly it's time for those with a wood-burning fireplace to start thinking about firing up their hearths. But before you light a match, it's important to think about what kind of wood you're about to burn.
Wood preservatives such as creosote, pentachlorophenol or chromated copper arsenate (CCA), are pesticide products that help protect wood from insects and other pests, but can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly. Treated wood is primarily for outdoor use such as construction lumber, utility poles, marine timbers and pilings, as well as outdoor playground structures. While pressure-treated wood has had a penetrating chemical preservative applied to it prior to sale, surface-treated wood has been brushed, sprayed or dipped with a preservative agent.
Both types of treated wood are considered safe when used as intended, but should not be burned. Burning treated lumber can release the preservative chemicals into the air, where they can be breathed in. The ash can also contain dangerous concentrations of the same chemicals.
Health Canada regulates the chemicals used in treated wood as well as other pesticides, and has the following tips to keep in mind:
• Never burn wood you suspect might be treated. Treated wood cannot always be readily identified. If you are unsure if wood has been treated, do not dispose of it by burning.
• If you have leftover treated wood from an outdoor construction project, dispose of it according to your local waste regulations.
• Sawdust or remnants from treated wood should not be composted or mulched.
If you accidentally inhale smoke or ash from wood you suspect has been treated, you should contact your local poison control centre or your doctor.
More information on this topic is available from Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Consult www.healthycanadians.gc.ca, dial 1-800-267-6315 toll-free, or e-mail email@example.com.
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