Is new pressure treated lumber safe to use?

mailman22(6)September 25, 2011

Are the chemicals used in pressure treated (PT) lumber today safe enough to use for garden beds? I had heard that the chemicals used today are not the same as used years ago. Just curious, as cedar and hemlock are expensive compared to PT.

Using untreated pine is cheap, but does not last long.

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Dan Staley

Lots of threads on this board with the full spectrum of opinions.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 11:50AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Not familiar with it. Go with your gut. Mine tells me not to use it.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:07PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

A good article on it is posted below, It is supposed to be safer now.

Here is a link that might be useful: PTL

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:18PM
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It's fine. It has a lot of copper in it, so use the appropriate hardware; double dipped galvanized or stainless steel, because regular hardware will corrode quite quickly.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:35PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I have a theory about question such as "Is new pressure treated lumber safe to use?". Some who ask the question are looking for confirmation of bias i.e. some think it is not and are looking for persons to respond it is not, some think it is OK and are looking for persons to respond that it is OK.

I think you should go with your feeling and do what makes you comfortable.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 3:06PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

If you are looking to garden organically, it will not suffice, but if you aren't so worried about that, I agree with going with what you are most comfortable.
I use yellow pine. It works fine, I replace boards about every 5 years (here in humid south) and it is cheap, organically compatible but this year grew some funky fungi (on the outside).

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 3:26PM
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The only problem with the new pressure treated lumber, imo, is that it can effect root growth where it touches the wood (and only where it touches the wood).

Unless you plan on badly crowding the plants it shouldn't be an issue at all.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:16PM
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That's what I thought. I figured that the new chemicals were not prone to leeching into the soil. Just wanted to know for sure.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:18PM
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My internet research says it is a lot safer now. For peace of mind I still lined the inside of my 4x8 raised bed, made with 2x10 treated lumber, with plastic.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 8:43PM
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Apologies for being blunt but, Are You Crazy? If you are 75 and dont plan on feeding any kids with the harvest then go for it otherwise No No a thousand times no. Someone says it's safe..what if they are wrong? Think about this how many forms of cancer are there that science doesn't know the cause of for certain. What is certain is that chemicals are often mentioned as a potential cause..

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 5:03AM
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There's no need to run around being scared of the world. There's enough of that going around anyway, lately.

The biggest issue with the old treated lumber isn't even your's touching the wood while harvesting your plants.

Your grocery store has more dangerous snack foods, imo.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 2:02PM
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As crazy as it sounds, I totally agree with nc. There's a lot of other things you ought to be worrying about then treated lumber. As nc said, even the old stuff was just fine, so long as you weren't rubbing your hands on it, inhaling, touching, or spreading the sawdust on your soil, or especially burning it. Nc also hits the nail on the head with what's available at your grocery store; could be dangerous, then again, maybe not.

Ya know, a good example is something I get asked all the time. I am an industrial electrician, spending a lot of my time working on large machinery, high voltage, and live equipment. People ask why I chose such a dangerous occupation, and I always respond "the most dangerous part of my job is the drive to and from work". Sounds crazy, but I've had plenty more close calls while driving than anything else. So, go ahead and use treated lumber, because the most dangerous part of using it will be the drive to the store to get it.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 6:46PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I personally would rather use untreated wood such as cedar, despite the higher cost, on anything that will come into direct contact with soil that I'm planting in, especially for food, or that rain could wash or leach into the soil. The only thing that would persuade me otherwise would be an actual analysis.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 7:56PM
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Chromium and copper isn't going to do anything to your soil leeching from pressure treated wood.

The copper generally keeps the wood from getting that brown/green "funk" rot going on. It's used a lot to spray down organic tree fruits in some areas. Chromium is pretty benign, though some think inhaling it when it's airborne is a mild danger...wear a mask if you're cutting planks.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 8:17PM
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