Pressure treated wood and veggies

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Old 02-04-02, 05:15 PM
driad
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Pressure treated wood and veggies

We just bought a house where the raised beds are al pressure treated wood... how bad is this? I know that gardens are just a couple of years old. It is a huge job to replace them, but if I remember correctly, PTW is dangerous. I have a 9 month old who will also be eating out of the garden, so I would like to minimize his exposure to dangerous toxins...

TIA.
 
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Old 02-04-02, 07:04 PM
fewalt's Avatar
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Location: sw VA
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driad,
The levels of chemicals has been slightly reduced over the past few years. From what I have read, tests have shown that most (if any) of the chemicals leech straight down into the soil. If the veggies are planted a foot or so inside the barrier there should be no problem. PT lumber is more of a problem with carpenters breathing in the sawdust while making decks.
fred
 
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Old 02-04-02, 09:10 PM
driad
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Thanks Fred... unfortunately, I am not in terribly great shape even with that info as the beds are very narrow. Hmmm... perhaps I can slide a plastic liner down.

I suppose I could just test my soil as I suspect that the wood is at least three years old. I would hope the worst of the leaching had already happened. Does anyone know if I would I need to pay someone to do that - or could I purchase a kit? Anyone know?
 
  #4  
Old 02-05-02, 12:56 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Northeastern NC On The Albemarle Sound
Posts: 10,952
Cool

You are right to be concerned about leaching of CCA from the pressure-treated wood around a vegetable garden.
Children six and under absorb chemicals in their brain and organs far more than older children or adults (another reason why lead-based paint chips and dust are an extreme hazard).
Check with your State Environmental Health Department, local Agricultural Department or local Health Department about having the garden soil tested for copper, chromium and arsenic (the CCA stands for chromated copper arsenate)...all highly toxic.
If it were me, I'd remove the p-t wood from around the garden, remove/replace the garden soil if tests show levels above accepted safety levels, and/or possibly move my vegetable garden to a new location, if in any doubt.
You can convert the raised vegetable garden to a flower garden.
Properly treated p-t wood is perfectly safe for decks, playground equipment, picnic tables, etc., but NOT for vegetable gardens, or sandboxes where children might consume dirt (don't tell me that they don't).
From what I've read, even properly treated p-t wood can leach chemicals above accepted levels into soil around decks, etc., and there a lot of "dippers-and-shippers" in that business that DON'T properly treat.
Properly treated lumber has binders mixed with the CCA to reduce leaching, but even so, it still leaches into the soil.
I used to work in public relations at a huge mill complex for a major Fortune 500 forest products company that also manufactured CCA-treated lumber there, and that is some serious stuff.
Better safe than sorry with small children and consuming anything that might have leached chemicals above safety levels in it.
Just my two cents.
Good luck!
Mike
 
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