Monday, February 16, 2009

Wood Preservatives

Wooden utility poles, railroad ties, fence posts, and other materials are protected from rapid degradation by wood preservatives. In a recent reassessment report, the EPA acknowledged that these chemicals and their byproducts (dioxins, furans, creosote, hexachlorobenzene, etc.) pose environmental and human health risks. Some environmental groups are pressuring the EPA and our current administration to ban the use of these materials. Other countries have switched to alternatives that are not composed of wood (concrete, steel, recycled composites). Should the U.S. do the same? What are the risks involved in continued usage of these chemical preservatives? What are the economics involved in switching to alternatives? Do the risks merit a ban of these chemical preservatives?