Sheet from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Copper Arsenate (CCA) -Treated Wood
Used in Playground Equipment
is chromated copper arsenate?
Chromated copper arsenate or CCA, is a chemical preservative that
protects wood from rotting due to insects and microbial agents.
CCA contains arsenic, chromium and copper. CCA has been
used to pressure treat lumber used for decks, playgrounds (playsets)
and other outdoor uses since the 1930’s. Since the 1970’s,
the majority of the wood used in residential settings was CCA-treated
CCA is a registered chemical pesticide that is subject to U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's) regulation under the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The playground equipment
made with wood treated with CCA is the jurisdictional responsibility
of the CPSC and would be subject to the rules of the CPSC's Federal
Hazardous Substances Act if found to be a hazardous substance.
activities on CCA-treated wood playground equipment
In June 2001, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
docketed a petition by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and
the Healthy Building Network (HBN) to enact a ban of CCA or chromated
copper arsenate-treated wood for use in playground equipment.
The staff's report that was developed in response to the petition
has been presented to the Commissioners for their review. The Commission
is expected to hold a public meeting to discuss the staff report
and other related information. The Commissioners will then vote
on the petition, which asks the CPSC to initiate a regulatory procedure.
activities and collaboration with CPSC staff
Manufacturers of CCA reached a voluntary agreement with EPA to end
the manufacture of CCA-treated wood for most consumer applications
by December 31, 2003. EPA has indicated that some stocks of wood
treated with CCA before this date might still be found on shelves
until mid-2004. EPA is expected to finalize this agreement in the
near future. Information on this EPA activity can be found on its
CPSC staff and EPA staff have worked together on several issues
related to exposure and potential risk to children and will initiate
studies to determine effective methods of reducing the amount of
arsenic released from CCA-treated wood.
is CPSC staff concerned about CCA-treated wood in playground equipment?
CPSC staff is concerned about CCA-treated wood in playground
equipment because exposures to arsenic in the wood might increase
a person's probability (or risk) of developing lung or bladder cancer
over their lifetime. Children can be exposed to the arsenic in CCA-treated
wood by playing on playgrounds made from this wood.
Staff believes that hand-to-mouth behavior is the primary source
of exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated wood playsets. Young children
who routinely put their hands in their mouths (generally children
under 6 years of age) can then ingest the arsenic directly from
their hands or indirectly when they touch food or toys, which are
then placed in their mouths.
studies did CPSC staff conduct to assess the potential health risk
to children from playing on CCA-treated wood playsets?
Staff conducted a series of scientific studies to measure how much
arsenic comes off CCA-treated wood playgrounds onto the hand to
estimate the potential exposure in children. Staff used this information
along with other scientific information to perform a risk assessment
of arsenic in CCA-treated playground equipment.
As part of the risk assessment, the staff also considered the age
of the child using the product, the developmental characteristics
of the child that could result in hand-to-mouth behaviors, how many
days a year a child might play on the playset, and how many years
they might play on the playset during early childhood.
The CPSC staff's scientific work was peer reviewed by independent
scientific experts in the fields of exposure and risk assessment,
and statistical analysis. The CPSC staff considered and addressed
the reviewers' comments in its final reports.
The CPSC staff has reviewed other exposure and risk assessments
from industry and consumer groups. These groups and EPA are continuing
to examine the issue of potential risk to children from CCA-treated
wood and CPSC staff will review the results of their work when they
is the exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playsets?
A child’s exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playsets and
the consequent risk of developing cancer depends upon a number of
number of days they play on the CCA-treated playset each year;
number of years they play on the CCA-treated playset; the amount
of arsenic that is picked up on their hands while they play; and
amount of arsenic they ingest from their hands throughout the
Children are exposed to a background level of arsenic that comes
primarily from food, followed by soil, then water, and air. This
background exposure is one of the many exposures that can result
in background cancer levels, cancers that have no apparent cause.
Based on estimates by ATSDR (the Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services),
an average daily intake of arsenic for a 2-6 year old child ranges
from about 2-46 µg per day depending upon amounts in diet,
air, and soil. From the staff’s analysis, arsenic exposure
in children from contact with CCA-treated wood playground structures
is estimated to be about 3.5 µg each day that includes a playground
visit. While exposure to arsenic from background sources could be
much higher than the exposure from playgrounds for some children,
exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playgrounds could be a significant
source of arsenic for other children on those days that include
a playground visit.
is the risk from arsenic exposure in CCA-treated playgrounds?
The scientific evidence about the health consequences of long-term
arsenic exposures in humans is found in studies of drinking water.
Epidemiological studies have been conducted in Taiwan where there
are high levels of arsenic in drinking water. These studies have
demonstrated an increased incidence of lung and bladder tumors in
that population from drinking water containing arsenic.
From these epidemiological studies, staff can calculate the increased
risk of lung or bladder cancers resulting from exposure to a given
level of arsenic. The data from these studies were used to calculate
the probability of a person developing lung or bladder cancer over
his/her lifetime from exposure to arsenic in CCA-treated wood.
There are many risk factors which contribute to a person's risk
for developing cancer over their lifetime, such as environment,
genetics, diet and behaviors such as smoking.
Staff calculated the increased lifetime risk of developing lung
or bladder cancer from exposure to arsenic for the individual who
plays on CCA-treated wood playsets during early childhood.
This increased cancer risk ranges from about 2 in a million to 100
in a million. The staff used a range of values to estimate
the increased number of lung or bladder cancer cases that could
result from a specific level of exposure because there is some uncertainty
about the amount of arsenic dose (exposure) that is necessary to
Cancer does not appear immediately upon exposure to a particular
cancer-causing agent. There is a lag time between the time of exposure
and the ultimate development of cancer. This lag time could be decades.
It is difficult to determine exactly what causes a particular cancer
in an individual because individuals are often exposed to many cancer-causing
agents either at the same time or over their lifetime. For these
reasons, the staff calculated the additional chance or probability
that an individual will develop lung or bladder cancer during his
or her lifetime because of exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated
wood playsets. Not every exposed individual will get cancer at some
time during his/her life.
exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playground equipment
It is difficult to distinguish CCA-treated wood from non-CCA-treated
wood. A call to the playset manufacturer might help determine
if the playset contains CCA-treated wood. Since the 1970's the majority
of the pressure-treated wood used in residential settings was treated
with CCA. Therefore, if you are not sure if the playset is composed
of CCA-treated wood, you should assume it is.
Parents and caregivers should be aware that children are exposed
to arsenic through their hand-to-mouth activity while playing on
and after playing on CCA-treated wood playsets. To minimize
the risk of exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playsets, parents
and caregivers should thoroughly wash the child’s hands with
soap and water immediately after outdoor play, especially before
eating. Children should also be discouraged from eating while on
Based on limited data, some groups suggest that applying certain
penetrating coatings such as oil-based, semi-transparent stains
on a regular basis (once a year or every other year depending upon
wear and weathering) may reduce the amount of arsenic that comes
out of the wood.
CPSC staff has not evaluated these data, however, CPSC staff and
EPA staff will initiate studies to determine effective methods of
reducing the amount of arsenic released from CCA-treated wood.
If you decide to remove your CCA-treated wood playset, the EPA states
that CCA-treated wood should never be burned in open fires, stoves,
fireplaces, or residential boilers. Contact EPA (www.epa.gov) or
your state or local solid waste management offices to receive instructions
on how to dispose of CCA-treated wood.
exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playground equipment
There are a number of non-arsenic containing preservatives
that have been registered by EPA to pressure-treat wood for consumer
applications. ACQ (ammonium copper quaternary) and copper
boron azole (CBA) are common ones. Some wood treated with these
preservatives is already available at retail outlets such as home
improvement stores. In addition, playground equipment made of other
non-arsenic containing components is also available (e.g. woods
such as cedar and redwood and non-wood alternatives such as metals
are the links to the CPSC Briefing Package regarding Petition HP
01-3 to ban chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood in playground
equipment, that contains the CPSC staff's detailed evaluation of
this issue. All of the documents below are in portable document
format (pdf) and require the Adobe(TM) Acrobat(TM) Reader to view
Package, Part 1 (pdf)
Package, Part 2 (pdf)
Package, Part 3 (pdf)
Package, Part 4 (pdf)
Package, Part 5 (pdf)
Package, Part 6 (pdf)