Recycling of wood impregnated with arsenic must be done by skilled professionals only

Wood preservatives containing arsenic, i.e. CCA preservatives, must not be used for wood preserving purposes. Use of reclaimed arsenic-treated wood, such as telegraph poles, is restricted. Arsenic-treated wood can be used for load-bearing timber structures in public and agricultural buildings, as well as for bridges and bridge structures, piers, foundations and supporting structures. Use of arsenic-treated wood in residential areas is strictly prohibited. The restrictions are enforced due to arsenic-related health and environmental hazards.

Arsenic preservative contains copper, arsenic and chromium.

Arsenic pentoxide

  • is toxic if inhaled or swallowed
  • causes skin and eye irritation and, in frequent exposure, also respiratory irritation
  • is a proven human carcinogen
  • is dangerous for the environment with long-term adverse effects.

Trivalent chromium trioxide

  • is toxic by ingestion and in contact with skin and lethal by inhalation
  • is corrosive to skin and eyes and may cause lung damage after repeated or prolonged exposure. 
  • is sensitising by skin and inhalation
  • may cause genetic damage and cancer
  • it is suspected of impairing fertility
  • is dangerous for the environment with long-term adverse effects.

People using impregnated wood are exposed to substances hazardous to health when handling and working on the wood.

Restrictions on the use of arsenic-treated wood

The supply of timber containing arsenic to consumers was banned in 2004. Its use in households and residential areas was also banned. Arsenic-treated wood may not be used in playgrounds or play equipment or in structures that are in contact with food products, food plants or animal feed.

All timber sold since the ban is arsenic- and chromium-free and may be used in playgrounds and play equipment. Treated wood must not be in contact with food products, food plants or animal feed.

Arsenic-treated wood structures release active substances to the ground and to water for as long as the structures are in place. These active substances are highly toxic to many organisms once released into the environment. Instead of decomposing, they bioaccumulate in the environment and organisms.

Arsenic-treated wood is hazardous waste

Reclaimed arsenic-treated wood is classified as hazardous waste and must be brought to a waste treatment site for separate collection. Burning it in household fires is prohibited.

The use of arsenic-treated wood is monitored mainly by the municipal environmental protection authority.