Reducing Arsenic Threat on Wooden Decks and Playgrounds

By Christina Elston

Families with wooden decks or play equipment constructed prior to 2003 can reduce their children’s exposure to arsenic by applying sealant, according a study from the EPA and CPSC. Before 2003, wood used in decks and playgrounds was routinely treated with a pesticide called CCA (chromated copper arsenate) that contains arsenic, a cancer-causing agent.

Results from the first year of a two-year study indicate that penetrating stains and sealants reduce the amount of “dislodgeable” arsenic at the surface of the wood for 12 months after application, at which time the sealant can be reapplied. Paint also reduced arsenic exposure, but is not recommended because it can chip or flake, increasing potential arsenic exposure. The final report from the study is due in January 2006. 

Is your backyard a safe haven or a potential hazard for kids? Here are ways to make sure that your children are safe inside and outside of your home.

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Christina Elston is a writer and editor who specializes in family health issues.