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Many of these structures are built with treated wood, which contains chemicals to protect it from the elements and insects. Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), a wood preservative containing chromium, copper and arsenic, has been used to pressure treat lumber since the 1940s. Arsenic is a toxic chemical element that can be absorbed into the body through ingestion and inhalation. The arsenic from these products can also leach into the soil and ground water supply. Children playing on CCA treated wood can unknowingly expose themselves to arsenic by putting their hands in their mouths after touching treated surfaces. Arsenic exposure has been linked to stomach and intestinal irritation, developmental effects, a variety of cancers and infertility in women.
The use of CCA on wood used in residential construction such as children's playgrounds and decks was phased out in 2004, but structures built prior to this time are still health concerns. So what do you do if you suspect your playground equipment might contain CCA treated wood?