EPA may allow 'Brockovich' carcinogen in wood preservative

On January 19, EPA will decide whether to allow unrestricted use of a potent human carcinogen in lumber sold at hardware and home improvement stores. Hexavalent chromium–the "Erin Brockovich" chemical–is a key ingredient in a wood preservative the chemical industry is lobbying hard to keep on the market, before release of a major cancer study on the chemical expected later this year. Twenty years ago the EPA made the wrong decision with arsenic-treated lumber, allowing the compound to stay on the market, exposing an entire generation of children to unsafe levels of cancer causing arsenic. Today, millions of schools, parks, and backyards have decks, picnic tables, and play structures made with this carcinogen-laden wood. Environmental Working Group urges EPA not to register the preservative until the cancer risks to exposed children are fully understood.

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