16 May 2014
Burning treated timber warning
Do you know that burning treated timber is banned in New Zealand?
The Council is urging people to not burn treated timbers either in the open air or in a wood-burner, as doing so will release toxic fumes into the air and pose a health risk to anyone who may breathe the contaminated air.
The warning comes after WorkSafe New Zealand and the Environmental Protection Authority voice their concern that there is not enough awareness in communities about the dangers of burning treated timbers.
Most residential construction in New Zealand uses pinus radiata timber, which is a perishable fast-growing softwood not naturally resistant to insects and fungi. To enhance its resistance to pests, the timber is typically treated with toxic chemicals such as chromated copper arsenic (CCA). CCA has pesticide and anti-fungal properties and New Zealand is one of the world's biggest users of CCA treated timber products
It is because of the toxicity of CCA that the burning of treated timbers is banned in New Zealand.
Inevitably the house construction process results in off-cuts and other unused timber being accumulated and in need of proper disposal at a council landfill facility. There is a temptation for the home owners or builders to see the unused timber as a source of firewood and to use it for this purpose.
Treated timbers can sometimes be identifiable by stampings into the wood indicating the nature of the treatment. The various treatments leave the timber with a green-coloured tinge. However, it is not always possible to identify treated timber, so as a general rule, "if in doubt throw it out" should be applied when unsure about the nature of timber to be burned.