EPA May Allow Carcingenic Chromium as Wood Preservative


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - On January 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, will decide whether or not to allow unrestricted use of the human carcinogen hexavalent chromium in a wood preservative used on lumber sold at hardware and home improvement stores.

Known as acid copper chromate, ACC, contains as much as 65 percent hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6.

Four years ago, the EPA banned nearly all uses of the widely used arsenic and chromium-based wood preservative chromated copper arsenate CCA, a chemical similar to ACC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forestry Research Lab says ACC 'may be more prone to leaching than wood treated with CCA.'

Now it appears that the EPA will allow chromium-6 to be used on wood. Millions of children, homeowners, and contractors will be exposed to the compound on decks, play sets, and home improvement projects.

The EPA's decision comes after intense lobbying by the chromium industry, said Wiles, and appears timed to avoid the results of a cancer study on the chemical expected later this year from the National Toxicology Program, NTP.

The NTP study will provide critical information on cancer risks to children who play on play sets decks and other structures made with ACC treated wood.

The chromium industry, and former Republican Senator Bob Dole, the lobbyist for a company that would like to use ACC, are pressuring the EPA to approve a new registration for ACC by January 20, 2007.

There's a legal process for getting this registration, and we've met all the requirements,' Dennis Morgan of Forest Products Research Laboratory, the company that Dole represents, told 'USA Today' in 2003.

Meanwhile, conservationists and several members of Congress are urging the EPA to keep ACC off the market.

'Everything known about chromium-6 tells us that it is a highly toxic cancer causing compound,' said Richard Wiles, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, DC based research and advocacy group.

'But EPA appears ready to ignore the science and rush this carcinogen to market before the cancer risks to children are fully understood. Putting this carcinogen back into the nation's lumber supply would be a giant step backwards in public health protection,' Wiles said.

Environmental Working Group today sent a letter to Jim Jones, director of the EPA's pesticide program, urging the agency not to register ACC until the cancer risks to children who would be exposed to chromium-6 from treated wood, are fully understood.

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