“Is CCA treated timber safe? Is it still sold in South Africa and what are the health effects?”
These are the questions people have been asking, and at Sabie Poles, we are more than happy to give you the answers. We will be discussing everything from the safety, health effects, sale uses, and disposal of CCA Treated Wood in South Africa in this post.
What is CCA Treated Timber?
In order for wood to last in harsh weather conditions and be resistant to insects, it needs to be treated with various chemicals that will allow the wood to have a longer life expectancy. In order to preserve the wood it get’s a thorough high-pressure treatment with CCA (chromated copper arsenate). If you’d like to know more about the process, we’ve dedicated a section in this blog post to explain the whole treatment process.
The first question we always run into when we talk about the treatment of wood is “What is the CCA treated wood’s life expectancy? Is it really worth it?”
The life expectancy of pressure treated wood is usually a minimum of 40 years, but at Sabie Poles, we have a lifetime guarantee on all our CCA treated timber products.
Selling of CCA Treated Timber in South Africa:
CCA Treated timber was developed in 1933 and has since been widely used all over the world in construction wood industries because of its durability.
Treated timber made it’s way to South Africa in the 1970’s and is still being used in the private and commercial sectors for construction purposes. High-pressure treated timber has different classes (the class determined the treatment process and where it should be used, we will be discussing this further on in the post as well) and uses.
While there have been many speculations and studies on the use of CCA treated timber, it is still widely used and sold within South Africa and internationally.
Are you not in the Mpumalanga region? No problem, we can organize transport CCA Treated Timber anywhere in South Africa!
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA ) Health Effects and Dangers
As mentioned earlier, there have been various studies and speculations on the safety of pressure treated wood, it has been deemed safe to use. Therefore the sale of CCA Treated Wood has not been prohibited by the South African government.
Because of the harsh chemicals that are used in the treatment of wood, there are some precautions that you have to look out for when working with CCA Treated Timber.
Conversations regarding toxic effects of Pressure Treated Wood
Most of the toxic effects are very preventable and manageable. Using and disposal of CCA Treated Timber only has severe toxic effects if it is done incorrectly.
There are a few basic guidelines that a person needs to follow when they are working with CCA Treated Timber.
“CCA has been produced, sold and used throughout the world for the last six decades. During this
period there has been no known recorded or reported health problem caused by using and applying
CCA treated timber correctly and as intended.” – SAWPA
Precautions when using CCA Treated Timber:
- Wear a mask in order to avoid breathing treated lumber dust
When you are working with CCA Treated Wood, it is always necessary that everyone in close proximity should wear a mask. This applies to everything from sawing and drilling to cutting the treated timber. This not only applies to treated timber, but also to any type of untreated timber.
Even when working with untreated timber, the dust from the wood can result in serious health effects. This is due to the fine dust particles that make their way into your lungs.
- Wear Gloves to prevent pressure treated wood splinter infection
When you’re working with any type of wood, treated or untreated, it is wise to use gloves to avoid cuts and splinters. When you are working with treated timber, it becomes more important. A simple splinter from pressure treated timber might result in a small infection. If you are unable to get the splinter out and the pain is persistent, we recommend you visit a doctor for the removal.
- Wood Allergy Treatment
Sometimes it is possible for a person to be allergic to a certain element in the treated timber. Unfortunately, there is not much a person can do regarding these allergies. Any over the counter allergy medicine should clear up any symptoms you might present with when being around CCA Treated timber.
- Do not burn treated timber
Properly dispose of treated timber products. We will discuss the various disposal options below.
Burning treated timber is illegal in South Africa.
Exposure to possible dangers is inevitable when these precautions are not met. We, therefore, urge everyone to always follow all precautionary measures. Not only working with treated timber but also untreated timber.
Symptoms of exposure to pressure treated wood
If you are worried that someone might have been exposed to the harmful chemicals in CCA Treated Timber, always visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Most common symptoms of exposure to pressure treated wood are as follows:
- Burning rashes
- Neurological Symptoms
NOTE: Please do not self-diagnose. ALways visit your doctor to confirm if you suspect any type of poisoning.
Where is it safe to use CCA Treated Timber?
In South Africa, we have a “class” system that determines where you can use the specifically treated timber.
Intended usage determines how the wood is treated.. You can see the various classes and uses for each class below, we recommend that you read about it in our extensive blog post “KNOWING WHICH CCA TREATMENT CLASS TO USE FOR YOUR APPLICATION?” :
How to properly dispose of CCA Treated Timber
“CCA treated timber must only be used as intended, and therefore when it reaches the end of its
usable life, i.e. structures are broken down, it is recommended that it be re-used as in other timber
applications when possible. If no re-use applications are available it should be disposed of at either
a registered landfill site or waste disposal site, from where it will be disposed of to a registered
CCA treated timber waste, i.e. demolition waste and/or off-cuts must never be burned for disposal,
heating or cooking purposes as it releases the fixed components which contain toxic and harmful
substances. The aforementioned disposal methods apply.” – SAWPA
If you are unsure of a licensed landfill close to you, you can visit SAWIC to look for a registered landfill near you.
In general, the health hazards are minimal to both humans and the environment. It is safe to use for construction indoor and outdoor.
We hope that this blog post has cleared up many of your burning questions!