Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers: Treated wood poses long-term threat

27.12.2005


Arsenic from treated lumber used in decks, utility poles and fences will likely leach into the environment for decades to come, possibly threatening groundwater, according to two research papers published online Wednesday.



Researchers from the University of Miami, the University of Florida and Florida International University examined arsenic leaching from chromated copper arsenate, or CCA-treated wood, from a real deck as well as from simulated landfills.

Their conclusion: The deck wood leached high levels of arsenic into rainwater runoff and the soil — and treated wood only continued leaching arsenic while sitting in simulated landfills.


The papers appeared in the online version of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Research ASAP. The bulk of the funding for the research came from the Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, a statewide research center hosted by the UF College of Engineering.

“What’s important for people to realize is that arsenic is relatively mobile, so it’s something we have to be relatively concerned about – how to manage this huge stock of CCA wood that remains to be disposed of,” said Tim Townsend, a UF associate professor of environmental engineering.

Earlier studies on the arsenic leaching problem prompted the wood products industry to phase out CCA-products for residential use in 2003, but CCA-wood can still be used in utility poles and industrial timbers.

Helena Solo-Gabriele, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Miami, Townsend and their colleagues studied rainwater runoff from a CCA-treated deck for a year. Their conclusion: Arsenic contamination was 100 times higher than runoff from an untreated deck.

Not only that, but a layer of sand underneath the deck had arsenic levels 15 to 30 times higher than background levels, while water that percolated through the sand also was contaminated by the toxic metal.

“Only a small fraction leaches in any given year,” Solo-Gabriele told Environmental Science & Technology Online News, the journal’s news section. But because the wood can be in the ground for several years “the impacts can be significant, especially given the high concentrations of arsenic in the wood itself.”

The researchers concluded that by 2000, Florida had imported 28,000 metric tons of arsenic, 4,600 of which have already leached into the environment, according to one of their papers. They predicted that as much as 11,000 additional tons of arsenic will leach from decks and other structures in the next 40 years.

That suggests that managers may want to carefully consider what should be the final resting place for CCA-treated wood that has been taken out of service, Townsend said.

“These estimates provide decision-makers with information that helps them decide whether or not CCA-treated wood should go into lined or unlined landfills,” he said.

Unfortunately, however, that won’t end the problem. A mathematical model based on the researchers’ experiments estimated that between 20 and 50 tons of arsenic may have leached into construction and demolition landfills in Florida before 2000, with an expected increase of between 350 and 830 tons of the heavy metal by 2040.

Florida law does not require that construction-and-demolition landfills be equipped with linings. Although there isn’t yet much evidence of groundwater contamination in monitoring wells around those landfills, that could well become a problem, said John Schert, director of the Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management.

“The leaching research conducted by the team suggests that arsenic contamination of the groundwater under these landfills may be a large future problem that future generations have to deal with,” Schert said.

One possible solution is to require linings, Schert said. However, that might put many of the landfills out of business.

“This would probably lead to much more illegal dumping of construction-and-demolition waste in remote, rural and agricultural locations,” he said. “Illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste in Florida is already a big problem.”

John Schert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>