With warmer weather on the way for much of the U.S., the time-honored tradition of “spring cleaning” will soon be upon us. This means we’ll have an opportunity to get outdoors once again and assess the damage done by winter. When it comes to outdoor structures such as patios, porches, treehouses and other wooden structures, rot is almost guaranteed. This is an unfortunate fact since so much of the lumber that’s purchased to build outdoor structures – not to mention the frames of our homes – is treated with preservative chemicals to extend their lifespans and give them a fighting chance against deterioration. Todd Shupe, a wood sciences expert who spent years leading a professional lab, has thus learned a few things about what to do with rotting wood that isn’t absolutely environmentally unfriendly.
First, a word on why we’re taking special precautions on safe disposal during our spring cleaning processes. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is a heavy metal that will eventually leave the wood rotting in a landfill and seep into the ground. As a former professor at LSU, Todd Shupe says that this is unfortunate and can be minimized by knowing what to do with leftover lumber. According to construction goods store Home Depot, “deck wood” and other hazardous construction materials can be taken to municipal disposal sites to be properly dealt with. This is similar to what we do with motor oil or paint so folks don’t turn to dumping gallons upon gallons of waste down the drain. Another option for those doing construction renovations of decks or tree forts damaged by winter is to call a trash-hauling company that will take away the lumber for a fee. Todd Shupe says that other wood-waste dealers could be consulted, and recycling or reuse is also a possibility.
While with LSU, Todd Shupe oversaw a laboratory that performed tests on wood products and biocides to gain approval and/or registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Shupe was directly responsible for final reports, internal quality control, working with third-party auditors and more. His data and document control and workflow were crucial for ensuring that smart solutions to new and existing chemically-treated wood were developed. As the holder of a Ph.D. in wood science from LSU, Todd Shupe knows solutions to preservative-treated wood are currently in the works. At the same time, he knows that sending these scraps to landfills only means that the CCA used during pressure-treating – which contains copper, chromim, and arsenic – does not belong in the soil beneath our feet. That’s why he thoroughly encourages readers to find sensible solutions to disposing of hazardous goods after their spring clean-up has wrapped up.