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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pressure Treated Wood and My Dreams Being Dashed

So I'm going about my day, nursing the baby, reading a few blogs on my iPhone while I do so, and then I come across a tutorial for a DIY rustic, wood coffee table (right up my alley).  I've seen many times before and just adore it.  The post was on the Centsational Girl blog from a guest blogger Kristi from Addicted to Decorating who made it.  Then I read the note at the very last of the post that reads:
**Note:  If your old fence boards are pressure treated pine instead of cedar, use with extreme caution!!!!  Pressure-treated lumber used to be treated with an arsenic compound.  You will need to protect your eyes, and cover your nose and mouth with a quality ventilator while sawing and sanding, and handle with caution to avoid splinters.  When the table is finished, you need to vacuum any remaining dust completely (and dispose of the dust immediately), and then seal the table VERY WELL with several coats of sealer.  You simply cannot be too cautious with old pressure-treated wood.
My heart stopped.  'Okay, well, let me research this to be sure,' I thought.  I googled a bit and, long story short, found that prolonged exposure to pressure-treated wood increases your risk for cancer.  Sanding and sawing said wood, as you can imagine, is a pretty bad idea since it more readily gets the chemicals (i.e. arsenic and chromium) into your system. 

Are you freaking kidding me?!?  Why was I not alerted to this just a month sooner!?!  Do you think I took any of those precautions when I was making my step stool, chalk board frame, signs, or swing? kids.  I wore goggles and a sanding mask, but that's about it.  And do you know what I did with the saw dust?  I swept it into the yard.  Oy vey...

This makes me just ill.  I'm not all scared that I'm going to get cancer just from what I've done so far; but I'm ill over the fact that all of that wood is going to go to waste.  I had such hopes!

It looks like I'll be buying my wood like the rest of everyone else now.  Bah!    

By the way, I DO plan on super sealing the things that I've made so far.  Rest easy, friends.  ;)

Goodbye sweet love!


  1. i had no idea!
    i love that table too, and forgot where i saw it, so thanks for the link :)

  2. bummer! cool ideas though!!! :)

  3. Wah, wah. Disappointing, but a relief that you found the disclosure, no? There are little test kits out there (like the ones for lead) that you can purchase to see what your item/wood contains.... is it too far-fetched to think there is one out there for arsenic? :/

  4. It really is disappointing, isn't it?! Who in their right mind thought it would be a great idea to treat this wood with arsenic? Think of all of the kids' play areas that have been built using this type of wood over the years! The good news is that new pressure-treated wood is no longer treated with arsenic, so you could purchase new fence boards (which are actually quite cheap), and finish them to look old. Not quite the same, but might be worth it.

  5. You can use a long piece of that wood for my gate plaque :) I want one that says "Prayer is the road to Heaven, trespassing is quicker" :) Just a thought, I bet that would sell like gangbusters at a flea market :)
    Guess who

  6. If you can find a stencil that says that, then I'll make it. Good luck. ;)

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