Treated Lumber the ABCs of ACQ & CCA

I don’t feel that is necessary to go into 
the extreme toxicity of CCA pressure treated lumber
as most people should be aware by now that Chromium, Copper and Arsenic pesticides are extremely toxic and leach into the ground soil and water from decks built with this material.




A neighbor told me a few years back that his deck was made with the new “safe” pressure treated lumber. So I decided to investigate for myself as this sounded like a great alternative.

It is worth a trip to the stores to see exactly what they are selling. After speaking with a well known local building supplier, they assured me that they are selling a “completely natural” pressure treated lumber "safe enough to eat" the guy tells me.

I asked him for the MSDS and he was stumped, he went to ask someone else and they asked what's a MSDS? I told them a Material Safety Data Sheet. They told me that this stuff is so safe that there is no MSDS. I then knew that he was not very informed about the products that they sell as all consumer products come with a MSDS.

I asked for the brand or company that manufactures this lumber. They told me they get it from 2 companies Stella-Jones and Goodfellow. Upon a quick search, I found that, sure enough both companies sell CCA and Good fellow also has the "natural choice" treated lumber, both with available MSDS sheets.

I looked at the MSDS for the so-called “safe” pressure treated lumber, ACQ instead of CCA, and as I suspected...Still toxic.

Here are some facts I gathered on the ACQ lumber: Alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), copper azole, copper citrate, monoethanolamine and formaldehyde are some of the tasty ingredients in ACQ .

These preservatives are made up of copper, a fungicide, and quaternary ammonium compound (quat), an insecticide which also augments the fungicidal treatment. Since it contains high levels of copper, ACQ-treated lumber is five times more corrosive to common steel, according to American Wood Preservers Association (AWPA) test results.

It is necessary to use double-galvanized or SS fasteners in ACQ lumber because of its highly corrosive effect.

The purpose of both ACQ and CCA woods are only for termite control and not for rot as believed (check the MSDS) So those living in areas without termites are just a wasting their money as well ask risking their health.


This wood is combustible, wood dust may form explosive mixtures with air in the presence of a spark from power tools.

The accidental or purposeful burning of ACQ will result in irritating toxic fumes and gasses, including organic chloride, aldehydes, amines, hydrogen chloride, ammonia, oxides of carbon and toxic dioxins.

Wood dust from ACQ can cause irritation to eyes, skin and respiratory tract.

It is an offense to not follow safety guidelines on an MSDS, not to mention pure stupidity as these regulations are put into place to provide minimal protection for the consumer.

You MUST wear puncture resistant gloves, safety glasses with side shields or a face shield and avoid breathing dust while working with this product a dust mask must be worn and a respirator is required when working with high amounts of dust.

This products should only be cut, grind or sanded outdoors or in a well ventilated area. Do not eat drink or smoke while handling this product.

The chemicals in ACQ contain insecticides and fungicides, which when released into the environment can cause adverse effects, contaminate and destroy plants, they can be very harmful or fatal to wildlife.

Less than a small fraction of a gram of some of the chemicals in this wood can kill a small mammal.

IF the local stores are even selling the ACQ lumber (as upon inspection, the store had indeed sold my neighbor CCA as it stated this on a tiny label on the end of the lumber – now remember, they were told this was not CCA and was safe enough to eat) although maybe in some ways it could be safer as it does not contain arsenic, it is still extremely toxic and surely not "safe enough to eat".

I say, stick with good old standard lumber, and if needed use a natural wood treatment such as Lifetime Wood Treatment, it comes in powder form to be mixed with water and painted or sprayed on the lumber to preserve it safely and requiring only 1 application in a lifetime.

This product is quite cost efficient and much safer for people, pets and the environment.

Another alternative is to use milk paint mixed with tung oil or a good quality organic linseed oil paint.




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