EPA Rejects Chromium Chemical For Home Use | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: January 11, 2007

EPA Rejects Chromium Chemical For Home Use

Residential use of wood preservative would pose a cancer risk to workers and homeowners, agency says
Department: Government & Policy

EPA has denied an industry petition to allow the use of a chromium-based wood preservative in lumber sold for decks and playground equipment.

The agency rejected a request by Forest Products Research Laboratory to treat lumber for residential use with acid copper chromate (ACC), which contains high concentrations of hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen.

EPA's scientific review concluded that "the risks associated with residential uses of ACC outweigh the minimal benefits," the agency says in a statement explaining its decision.

According to EPA, the proposed residential uses of ACC would pose a cancer risk to treatment and manufacturing workers, as well as noncancer risks to homeowners, children, and contractors. In addition, disposal of the treated wood could require that it be handled and disposed of as a hazardous waste.

At least eight chemical wood preservatives are registered for use in the residential lumber market, with alkaline copper quaternary the most widely used. ACC-treated lumber is still approved for industrial applications, which include railroad ties and telephone poles.

EPA's decision drew praise from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who chairs a Senate subcommittee on environmental health. "I repeatedly raised concerns to EPA about allowing use of a known carcinogen on decks, play sets, and other areas where children would be exposed to this hazardous chemical," Clinton says. "EPA has done the right thing."

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