Arsenic has been used in the wood treating industry as a preservative to protect wood from decay. Arsenic acts as an insecticide in wood since the 1980’s. It has been most widely used in playgrounds, decks, picnic tables and other outdoor structures where wood needs protection from the elements. The two most common arsenic treatments are Chromated Copper Arsenate and Ammoniacal Copper Zinc Arsenate. They are sold under trade names as Wolmanized wood and Chemonite.
The toxicity of arsenic to insects, bacteria, and fungi led to its use as a wood preservative. Today, use of arsenate in wood preservation has been banned by many countries due to its high level of toxicity. In the United States, the use of arsenic in consumer products was discontinued for residential and consumer construction in 2003. Research has shown that arsenic could leach out of the wood and into the surrounding soil. The ingestion of this wood ash has caused fatalities in animals and serious poisonings in humans. 20 grams of ash is the lethal human dose.
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