Todd Shupe LSU Baton Rouge Wood Blog

Health Warnings From Studies On Chemically-Treated Wood Are A Wake-Up Call, Says Todd Shupe


If you shouldn’t burn it and you can’t compost with it, Tood Shupe says that should tell you that this is a serious issue. Wood that has been treated with chemicals for a variety of preservation reasons, such as being scratch-resistant or for a glossy finish, is perfectly safe to build with. However, there comes a time when you need to replace a board here or plank of wood there that were treated at some point. The effect of leaving this wood to rot in landfills has at least one well-studied effect: Those chemicals will leech into the soil. According to Baton Rouge local Todd Shupe, who holds degrees in wood science from two colleges, these means of disposal are problematic.  Case in his point: A 2007 study found that wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was likely to blame for an increase in arsenic and chromium in ground water that was collected. “This was in 2007,” says former LSU wood sciences professor Todd Shupe. “Imagine the scope of the issue today.”

Some may ask why Todd Shupe is qualified to speak on the subject of the landfilling of preservative-treated wood. For starters, former Baton Rouge LSU professor Todd Shupe was a lab director who performed chemical tests for new and existing wood-based products in hopes of gaining approval and registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this role, he supervised a lab of four scientists as they assisted in this study.  “Todd directed a quality academic testing lab with an industrial sense of urgency,” Mike Freeman, a Memphis, Tennessee-based consultant said recently.

Additional studies into the disposal of preservative-treated wood found that the majority of these items come from demolition. “Since preservatives do migrate from the wood during its normal use, leaching characteristics of weathered and aged [preservative]-treated wood may differ from un-weathered wood,” a U.S. National Library of Medicine study found. Since there’s no sign of demolition of outdated buildings ever ending, Todd Shupe suggests that those who can take a serious look at the effects of throwing chemically-tainted wood onto the trash heap. Given the fact that CCA-treated wood contains arsenic and is known to be hazardous to human health and the environment, according to one study, former LSU Professor Todd Shupe says all the warning signs are already here. The solution is to either find the proper means of disposal or find arsenic-free preservatives.