Birth or developmental effects, cancer, endocrine system, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), reproduction and fertility
Routes of Exposure related to arsenic:
- Consumer products: decks, playground equipment
- Environment: agriculture
- Food: chicken, rice
- Found in people
- Water: tap water (tap-water data from 19 cities by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and other hazardous chemicals).
America remained the world's leading arsenic consumer, importing 14,200 metric tons in 1985 and increasing to 25,000 tons by 2001 (U.S. Geological Survey). Over 80 percent of imports were being made into chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a wood preservative for "pressure-treated" decking, landscaping, walkways, picnic tables and playground equipment.
In November 2001, Poisoned Playgrounds conducted an analysis that showed pressure treated wood sold by The Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse leached as much as 1,020 micrograms of pure arsenic onto a moistened wipe the size of a child's hand. This 1,020 mcg is 100 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 10 microgram allowable daily exposure level for drinking water.
On February 12, 2002, under pressure by consumers, members of congress and the EPA, the wood industry agreed to stop using arsenic-based wood preservatives as of December 2003. By 2006, US consumption of arsenic dropped more than 300 percent.
For decades, arsenic was added to outdoor wood as a preservative. After evidence emerged that it could cause cancer in humans, the EPA banned the manufacture and sale of arsenic-treated wood for most uses. However, wood decks and kids' play sets built before 2004 usually contain arsenic.
In 2006, the EPA attempted to ban all arsenic-based pesticides. The proposed regulation is still tied up in regulatory wrangles. Consequently, organic arsenic herbicides are still in use on cotton and turf, including golf courses, lawns, school yards, athletic fields, and rights-of-way.
Test the treated wood around your home with an inexpensive test kit at Industrial Test Systems.