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CCA Lumber – EPA Ruling

EPA Ruling on CCA Lumber

CCA lumber .... I remember clearly when I first saw it at the lumber yard. The salesman said, "Here it is. Miracle lumber. You don't ever have to do anything to it." My guess is that this is what the lumber wholesaler told him. For all I know, they all believed what they were saying. I can tell you that 25 years ago, they sure convinced me.

But after installing some of it and seeing what happened when the chemical-saturated lumber dried out, I knew they were wrong. Sure, the wood didn't rot, but it cracked, twisted, warped, cupped, turned gray, etc. In addition, it appears there is a good chance, it was silently contaminating people and property that came into contact with it.

As we all know now, the lumber contained large amounts of three chemicals that were working to preserve it from rot and insect attack. The three chemicals are: inorganic arsenic, copper and chromium. Just about everyone knows what arsenic can do if you ingest enough of it. Copper is somewhat harmless, but chromium is indeed a heavy metal. Ingest too much or too many different heavy metals, and you can have health problems for sure. It is a known fact.

Water is the Problem

The chemicals are delivered into the wood using water. All three of the chemicals can be dissolved in water. Raw lumber is placed in a pressure vessel with the chemical brew solution. The pressure is turned up and the chemical solution is drawn into the wood.

The trouble is that the process can be reversed. Rain water and snow melt can leach these chemicals back out of the lumber that is used on your deck and playset.

You can actually create even more problems if you use a pressure washer to clean your CCA deck or lumber. Why? These devices drive water deep into the lumber. There they can dissolve even more chemicals. The pressure washers also erode the wood fibers that contain the preservatives. This contaminated wood fiber ends up in the soil around your property.

Are you scared yet? Don't be. Should you be concerned? Absolutely yes.


The Environmental Protection Agency press release concerning this issue clearly states that you don't have to go out and destroy your CCA lumber. You can safely co-exist with it if you simply keep it well sealed. This sealing process stops water from infiltrating into the wood. Stop water infiltration and you stop chemical leaching.

The Best Sealer

Talk to different people about deck sealers and you get different answers. One thing I can tell you is that MANY highly advertised national brands and those available at home centers are made using natural oils. These oils are food for mildew and algae. As soon as the mildewcides contained in these products break down, your deck becomes a buffet for mildew and algae.

I have found, along with thousands of my readers over the past six years, that there is a wonderful synthetic resin sealer called Defy. The Defy product is not mildew food. It is a very environmentally friendly product that is water based. It comes in 10 different colors and is semi-transparent.

NOTE FROM TIM CARTER - Founder of AsktheBuilder.com - posted October, 2016: I no longer would apply Defy deck sealer to any exterior wood that I own at my own home.

What's more, over the past six years, it has consistently finished in the top five of the Earlham University Deck Sealer studies. The bottom line is that it is a superb deck sealer that holds up better than virtually any other product.

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