What is CCA treatment and is it safe to use?

weeden chainbridge poles

CCA (Copper-Chrome-Arsenate) is an industrial wood preservative. It protects the wood against both insects and rot caused by fungi. It was first developed in 1933 but has been commonly used in South Africa since the 70s.

This treatment is only applied under-regulated and controlled conditions in an industrial wood preservation plant certified by SABS or SATAS and approved by the NRCS.

Why use CCA-treated wood:

1. CCA is the best option

Even though alternative wood preservatives are available, CCA is by comparison the best option out there. Other products tend to be less effective or extremely hazardous. In some cases they are not readily available and are far too costly. The most popular alternatives are Creosote or other copper bindings such as ACQ (Alkaline-Copper Quaternary) or Copper Azole.

Creosote has a prominent smell and oily characteristics. This makes it more suitable for applications such as fencing, railways, telephone poles or other industrial/agricultural applications. When combined with CCA this is suitable for marine-related applications. Creosote should not be applied to a product where direct contact, possible digestion or long periods of close proximity is expected.

ACQ and Copper Azole are new generations of inorganic alternatives. They are new to South Africa and not widely available for use.

2. CCA is safe to use

An eight-year study in the United States done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that CCA-treated wood had no toxic effect on humans that had prolonged contact with the substance.

Since the development of the treatment in 1933 and after worldwide use for the past 6 decades, there have been no reported health issues linked to the correct usage of CCA-treated wood. CCA is a passive material that dissuades insects from attacking the wood and prevents fungi from building up, it does not kill the insects in the same way a pesticide would but rather render the wood unsavoury to them.

It can only be applied through an industrial high-pressure process. During this process, the CCA fixes to the lignocellulose in the wood which ensures that it protects the wood for longer.

The fixation procedure also ensures that the CCA becomes immobile. This means that unlike the Creosote which gives off an oily texture the CCA will remain fixed to the wood.

3. CCA is environmentally friendly

The treatment of the wood prolongs its life span. You not only benefit from a long-lasting product, but you are also actively taking place in the conservation of forest resources.

CCA-treated wood lasts longer than a new tree could grow. This ensures that fewer trees need to be cut down.

After considering all information available it can be concluded that CCA treatment is safe to use and poses no health risk to humans when in prolonged contact with a treated product.

The safety of everyone that encounters our products is of the utmost importance to us, which is why we take every precaution in treating all our products the correct way, ensuring a long-lasting and safe environment for everyone.

Still not convinced?

Feel free to read more in this detailed document from SAWPA:

Click here for more information