04 February 2002 19:45 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Anti-pesticide activists called Monday for a total ban on cooper chromium copper arsenate (CCA) while talks continued between industry and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a possible phase-out of the wood-preserving chemical's consumer uses.
In a statement, the group Beyond Pesticides said swift action, not a gradual phase-out of CCA is needed, to reduce exposure to the chemical. It said an immediate ban is required because of concerns that the arsenic component of the chemical can cause cancer.
CCA is widely used to treat wood used in the construction of backyard decks, playgrounds and fences.
Washington, DC-based Beyond Pesticides also called for a ban on pentachlorophenol and creosote, two other wood-preserving chemicals used on utility poles. It said EPA has had a history of striking deals with pesticide manufacturers with "long drawn-out phase-out periods."
The group said anything less than a total ban would put the public and especially children at "serious, continued and unnecessary risk" because there are "economically viable" wood treatment alternatives available.
CCA makers have been holding discussions with EPA regarding the re-registration of the wood preservative and a possible phase-out of certain uses.
A report to Congress from EPA on its regulatory progress on CCA- treated wood is expected by 15 February, based on a directive in EPA's fiscal year 2002 budget, according to a statement by Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat-Florida), who has been pushing the agency to quickly review potential health hazards posed by the arsenic in treated wood.
An industry source said that if there is a "transition away from" CCA-preserved wood, it would not apply to all uses, but only to some non-industrial applications, such as wood for decks and playground equipment.
EPA is scheduled to issue a preliminary risk assessment of wood treated with CCA in the second quarter.
In December, Beyond Pesticide filed a petition with EPA seeking a ban on certain wood preservative products. The petition asks the agency to cancel product registrations, based on cancer risks and other possible adverse health effects.
The American Wood Preservers Institute maintains that CCA is safe when properly handled and used according to industry standards, and that CCA-preserved wood does not present undue health risks to adults or children from short or long-term exposure.
CCA has been "effectively used for almost 70 years" to pressure-treat lumber so that it can withstand termites and decay, the institute says.
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