Safe Around Arsenic
my wife and I sanded the trim around our windows before painting this past summer,
I was reminded of the potential danger of arsenic exposure around homes and playgrounds.
For the past seven decades, a form of arsenic has been used as a pesticide in
pressure treated wood used for playground sets, picnic tables, and wooden decks
and porches. The concern is that arsenic a known carcinogen can
rub off of treated wood and be ingested with hand to mouth contact. Considering
that children touch their mouths sixteen times per hour when they are out playing,
this is an important issue for all families to consider.
the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of arsenic-containing
wood for homes and playgrounds on January 1, 2004, approximately 70% of homes
and 14% of playgrounds in the States still have decks, porches, and play structures
that contain arsenic. I haven't been able to find out the percentages for Canada,
but I would imagine that they are similar.
a high enough exposure to arsenic can cause immediate death, the concern with
arsenic found around homes and playgrounds is chronic, low grade exposure that
contributes to disease over many years.
what you can do to minimize your exposure to arsenic in pressure treated wood:
Have your children understand the importance of washing their hands after they
have played on or around a playground with pressure treated wood. Canadian researchers
have found that washing with water alone is enough to remove arsenic from childrens
Be sure to use a tablecloth if you choose to eat at a picnic table made of pressure
treated wood. Better yet, dont eat at a picnic table made of pressure treated
wood, as chances are good that your hands will pick up some arsenic.
Be sure to wear gloves, goggles, and preferably a mask if you sand or do any work
with pressure treated wood.
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