Cancer Risk Posed by Wood Play Sets

Feb 10, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that children playing on wood playground equipment could be at an increased risk of lung or bladder cancer.

A report by the Associated Press says that a pesticide, chromated copper arsenate, has been used to treat virtually all the wood playground sets in use.

Manufacturers have agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop using chromated copper arsenate in wooded play sets and other consumer products by December of this year. The EPA requires warning labels on treated lumber containing the pesticide.

The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Hal Stratton, told the AP that “children can get arsenic residue from the treated wood on their hands and then put their hands in their mouths.”

Mr. Stratton stressed the importance for kids to thoroughly wash their “hands with soap and water immediately after youngsters play on playground equipment made of the treated wood. Children also should not eat while on the equipment.”

Moderator’s Comment: Do retailers that have sold wooden
play sets have an obligation to inform customers about the hazards of chromated
copper arsenate? What should retailers that have wood sets treated with the
pesticide on order or inventoried do?

Stores should assume consumers will not read the warning
labels and inform them of the risks and recommended safeguards to protect kids
using the equipment. This assumes, of course, that stores do not forego selling
wooden sets until safer models are built. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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