Wood preservatives and pressure treated wood might contain toxic substances such as creosote, arsenic, chromium and copper and can be harmful to both human health and the environment. If you are planning to build something that will be used by children, for example a sandbox, it is good to use untreated wood and strengthen the wood with oil instead of wood preservatives.
How to reduce the risk of harm to health and the environment:
- If you are planning to build something that will be used by children, for example a sandbox, it is good to use untreated wood and strengthen the wood with oil instead of wood preservatives.
- Do not use wood treated with wood preservatives indoors.
- Keep wood preservatives out of the sight and reach of children.
- Look for the warning label and read the information that accompanies the product so that you are aware of the hazards associated with the product and know how to handle the product safely.
If you are planning to buy lumber treated with wood preservatives
When you buy lumber that has been treated with wood preservatives, the seller must be able to provide written information about the following:
- Active ingredients in the wood preservative.
- Restrictions on use.
- How the lumber is processed appropriately.
- Health risks and protective measures.
- How lumber waste is to be disposed of.
If you need to use a wood preservative, only buy agents that are approved by the Swedish Chemicals Agency. Approved preservatives always have a four-digit registration number and are divided into three authorisation classes. Products marked Class 3 may be used by anyone. In the the Pesticide Register (in Swedish only), you can check the registration number and see if the product is approved, what class it belongs to and find other important information.
Creosote-treated wood is black or brown and smells of tar. Creosote is made from coal tar and contains more than 200 substances, several of which can be allergenic and carcinogenic. When exposed to sun, the wood can sweat, and the hazardous substances leak out.
Creosote-treated lumber may still be present in old playgrounds and in private gardens. This type of lumber, such as old railway sleepers and catenary poles, may no longer be used in playgrounds. As a private individual, you may only use creosote-treated wood that has been treated before 2003. And this wood may not be used for containers for cultivation, in parks, gardens or outdoor recreation facilities where there is a risk that it may come into contact with the skin frequently.
Leftover creosote-treated wood is regarded as environmentally hazardous waste. Check with your municipality to see what applies to such waste.