Safety Practices FAQs | Treated Wood

Safety Practices FAQs

  • Is special handling required when working with treated wood?

    Wear gloves when handling treated wood as wood may splinter, and always wear eye protection and a dust mask when cutting, sawing or sanding treated wood to reduce inhalation and prevent irritation to the nose, eyes and skin.

  • How should I dispose of unused treated wood?

    All treated wood scraps, debris and sawdust should be cleaned up and disposed of after construction in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.

  • Is it ok to burn treated wood?

    When treated wood is burned, the chemical components of the preservative are concentrated and can be released into the ash and in particulates in the smoke. Some of these components can be harmful to the environment. Federal and state regulations mandate that treated wood be disposed of properly.

  • Why can I use pressure-treated wood outdoors for a picnic table but not for a countertop?

    Picnic tables are used primarily for serving pre-prepared food, while a kitchen countertop is used to prepare food and used as a cutting surface for raw food. Raw food can absorb the preservatives and be ingested.

  • Is treated wood safe for raised bed gardening?

    Copper-based preservatives have been deemed safe to be used in gardening for vegetables. Tests have shown that the amount of preservative leached from pressure-treated wood is so low it is virtually undetectable.

    AWPA is primarily a standards developer, much like ASTM, but specific to products and processes which increase the longevity of wood products. As such, our expertise is in wood durability, and NOT human health and safety. We rely on the U.S. EPA to determine product safety during their registration process. It is our understanding that the wood preservatives used in treated wood available to consumers have been registered by EPA for general use, which means that EPA has determined it is relatively safe for most, if not all, consumer applications. Different people perceive safety in different ways. If you're concerned, you could always apply some type of coating or sealer to reduce the amount of soil contact with the preservative treated wood, or perhaps even put a sheet of plastic between the treated wood and the soil if you want to minimize or eliminate contact between wood and soil. Please note that most of the treated wood that’s two inches or less in thickness tends to be treated for above-ground uses, so it may not last very long in a ground-contact application. Be sure to contact the manufacturer of the treated wood product or the manufacturer of the wood preservative chemical for information on product safety. There should be contact information on the end tag of the treated wood at your lumber retailer.