Fight Arsenic in Your Backyard

Lynn Keiley shares a list of suggestions to help you fight arsenic in your backyard, including information on testing wood, protecting your family against arsenic-tainted wood and disposing properly of CCA-treated wood.

| February/March 2003

Learn how you can fight arsenic in your backyard with these helpful tips.

Fight Arsenic in Your Back Yard

So, you now fear that your deck or worse, your children's play equipment, is permeated with arsenic. What should you do?

Test the soil. If you have CCA-treated wood around your vegetable beds, test the soil to find out if it contains dangerous levels of arsenic. A certain amount of arsenic occurs naturally, but too much inhibits plant growth. Contact the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for low-cost tests for arsenic-tainted soil [].

Replace what you can. It's not the easiest choice, but it really is the best long-term solution. Even if you can't afford to replace an entire piece, try to replace surfaces that will be making skin contact, such as handrails.

Seal it. Until recently, the standard recommendation was to seal the wood at least once a year with polyurethane. However, the EWG has found that regular use, along with weather, breaks down the sealants in just a few months. They recommend re-sealing every six months — a wise move for anything you can't replace.

Wash your hands. Head for soap any time you make contact with CCA, and be especially vigilant about washing children's hands.

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