How Dangerous? Who Knows! But Maine Bans it Anyway

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How Dangerous? Who Knows! But Maine Bans it Anyway

Yep~ Anothah Maine regulation that adds 20% to the cost for Maine businesses and add a markup to that and once again Maine families /economy suffahs.Ayuh, that's Maine...

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How Dangerous? Who Knows! But Maine Bans it Anyway

Kennebec Journal
Saturday, June 7, 2003Cost of lumber to go up
Companies phasing out arsenic-treated wood as ban nears By JONATHAN HUMPHREY, Staff Writer
Copyright © 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.   AUGUSTA — Maine consumers will see the cost of pressure-treated lumber rise over the next year as the state's distributors convert to wood that is not treated with arsenic, suppliers say.State legislators this week approved a ban — the nation's first —on the sale of arsenic-treated lumber for use in residential construction. Gov. John Baldacci is expected to sign off on the ban, which would take effect in April 2004. The vote followed a voluntary agreement last year between federal environmental regulators and the wood-treating industry to phase out production of arsenic-treated lumber in the nation by 2004. Most Maine lumber companies saw the change coming and had already begun converting to wood treated with an alternative to arsenic. "I would say if you took an informal poll of the dealers in Maine, that 75 percent are either arsenic-free or are in the process of converting," said Matt Masse, who purchases lumber for Hammond Lumber Co. "We've already converted our yards completely." Arsenic is a known carcinogen, and can leach out of structures built with pressure-treated lumber over time if the lumber is not properly sealed with varnish or paint, according to some assessments. State toxicologist Andy Smith said the danger is that the poisonous element can then end up on the hands — and eventually in the mouths — of children, increasing health risks. "Children can be exposed from playing on or having contact with these structures, which might be playgrounds or decks or whatever," Smith said. "Regardless of what we think the cancer risk might actually be, it is a potential exposure that is largely avoidable." That is because alternatives to arsenic-treated lumber have existed for years; Both Hammond Lumber and Waterville-based Ware-Butler Inc. are using a brand called NatureWood that uses copper combined with an organic quaternary ammonium compound to fight fungus and termites, replacing arsenic as an effective pesticide. "It's been on the market a number of years, so it's got a proven track record," said Richard Giguere, vice president and general manager of Ware-Butler. "We're probably 50 percent converted already, but it is more expensive." How much more expensive depends on who you ask and what sort of lumber you buy, but Giguere and Masse pegged the average cost increase at about 20 percent. Producers have tried to soften the financial impact by treating lumber designed for some uses less heavily than lumber that needs a heavier treatment, Masse said. Other than being more expensive, consumers should notice little difference in the lumber, Masse said. "There's no big change in it; it's the treatment, not the wood itself," Masse said. Arsenic-treated lumber can still be found in many lumber yards and outlets including The Home Depot in Waterville, where it is clearly marked with warnings about safe handling. Dealers say such lumber can still be used safely for many purposes, and assessments of its actual danger to humans vary widely. Smith noted that arsenic occurs naturally in nature, and while he added that the danger to humans is proven, he agreed the exact risks of arsenic-treated lumber have not been established. "How large those potential risks are is uncertain, but various state and federal agencies have made estimates that generally fall in the range, the fairly broad range, of one in 1,000 to one in 10,000," Smith said. "The point is, it represents another potential exposure to arsenic, and one that's largely preventable." The Associated Press contributed to the article. Jonathan Humphrey — 861-9252 jhumphrey@centralmaine.com [url=http://www.centralmaine.com/news/stories/030607arsenic_.shtml]http://www...

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