All Paws on Deck?
I discovered the other day a very interesting fact if you happen to have a deck made of lumber. That lumber for decking, play sets etc was treated at one time with toxic chemicals to preserve it, mainly arsenic. I have also found out as of December 31 2003 that arsenic treated wood was to be phased out for residential use. The problem being that most of us probably have decks that were made prior to that date. Ozzie has been drinking dirty deck water every time it rains for almost a year now. I had always discouraged it in the past just because it seemed downright nasty but now it seems like we will have to put and end to this dirty habit of his. Also no more throwing an occasional hot-dog that has escaped the grill onto to the deck for feasting. Hm I wonder if we can test the deck for arsenic content. ( I will follow up on that ) Who's bright idea was that to use arsenic any way?! Ozzie just spent 2 hours chewing on his bully stick out there! Other than tearing down your current deck and replacing it with Trex here are some things you can do to minimize exposure.
- Seal the wood at least every six months with standard penetrating deck treatments.
- Replace sections of potential high exposure like handrails, steps, or deck boards with non-arsenic alternatives.
- Wash your hands and your children’s hands & dogs paws after every exposure to arsenic-treated wood, especially before eating.
- Keep children and pets away from the soil beneath and immediately surrounding arsenic-treated wood structures.
- Cover arsenic-treated picnic tables with a tablecloth before using.
- Do not pressure wash to clean the surface of arsenic-treated wood. Instead use a soap and water solution, with disposable cleaning supplies. Pressurized water will blast off the upper surface of the wood and spray arsenic-contaminated particles over your yard.
- Do not allow children to play on rough wood surfaces. Arsenic-treated wood splinters can be dangerous.
- Never sand arsenic-treated lumber. If wood is smooth enough that splinters are not a risk, avoid sanding a deck to prepare the surface for sealing—use a simple soap and water wash instead. Wood dust formed by sanding contains arsenic that is easily ingested by a child, or can wash off the surface to contaminate the soil below.
- Do not store toys or tools under the deck. Arsenic leaches from the wood when it rains and may coat things left there.
- Do not use commercial “deck washing” solutions. These solutions can convert chemicals on the wood to a more toxic form.