The very fact that readers are looking into proper protocols when it comes to the disposal of treated wood goes to show that more of us have the environment in mind as of late. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), there are local regulations when it comes to the types of wood, which chemicals it was treated with and if your municipality’s trash company will take it away. As the NPIC states, it’s best to both contact your local government to learn about how this wood should be disposed of while making sure to never burn pressure-treated wood, as “the resulting smoke can contain toxic chemicals hazardous to people and the environment.”
The next question that many may be asking is which exact types of wood require this oversight? According to former LSU professor Todd Shupe, whose background in wood sciences includes leading a testing laboratory of four other scientists, it’s the chemicals that make the wood toxic. For example, roadside utility poles are often treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA); the same goes for much of the wood used for residential purposes such as for decks or porches. The breakdown of the CCA chemical combination looks like this: Chromium helps chemicals bind to the wood while copper protects against decay and arsenic wards off termites. According to former LSU professor Todd Shupe, who previously developed a way to remove heavy metals from decommissioned treated wood, there are a number of ways to easily determine if the wood you need to dispose of has been treated with a preservative. These include a stamp or label that clearly states any prior treatment; a presence of green or dark brown colors on unpainted wood; wood that was placed closer to the ground during construction and small surface indentations that were made to make preservative application easier.
The next step after identification is disposal. While burning earns an across-the-board ban, there are regulations surrounding storage after the appropriate group has collected the wood for disposal. According to Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, these companies can’t store the wood for more than 90 days and it can’t be located near a source of water run-off. To avoid the latter, he suggests that disposal companies stack the wood on a shipping pallet or cover it with a tarp for the period prior to disposal. While the prevalence of treated wood for preservation purposes isn’t likely to dissipate, you’ll be able to deflect damage done to the environment.