Groups Sue to Force EPA Ban of Arsenic-Laced Wood Preservatives
WASHINGTON, DC -- December 27, 2002 -- The Communications Workers of America and the environmental group, Beyond Pesticides, have filed a federal lawsuit to stop the use of toxic wood preservatives containing pentachlorophenol (penta), creosote, or the arsenic compound known as chromated copper arsenate (CCA). The groups charge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with failing to protect workers and the public from these preservatives, which are commonly used to treat utility poles and playground and picnic structures.
The EPA has overwhelming data on the health risks posed by wood preservatives and is aware of available alternative products, according to the complaint filed in Federal District Court in Washington DC. "EPA action ... is long overdue, and this lawsuit seeks to compel the agency to do its job," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. The head of the Communications Workers of America commented, "Because of the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to act, tens of thousands of our members continue to be exposed daily to dangerous chemical wood preservatives. This is a serious workplace issue that must be addressed."
The groups cited high cancer risks from exposure to treated wood and contaminated soils. They said that voluntary action to remove certain uses of arsenic-treated wood, announced by the wood preservers and EPA in February, 2002, is inefficient and only effects a small portion of the treated wood in use. They also point to EPA test results that indicate that disposal of treated wood in municipal landfills violates EPA's own hazardous waste regulations.
At Brayton Purcell, we will continue to keep you up-to-date about hazardous substances that pose a threat to consumers. If you have any questions about toxic chemicals and your legal rights, please feel free to contact us.