Impact of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in wood mulch

Sci Total Environ. 2003 Jun 20;309(1-3):173-85. doi: 10.1016/S0048-9697(03)00047-0.


The production of landscape mulch is a major market for the recycling of yard trash and waste wood. When wood recovered from construction and demolition (C&D) debris is used as mulch, it sometimes contains chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood. The presence of CCA-treated wood may cause some potential environmental problems as a result of the chromium, copper, and arsenic present. Research was performed to examine the leachability of the three metals from a variety of processed wood mixtures in Florida. The mixtures tested included mixed wood from C&D debris recycling facilities and mulch purchased from retail outlets. The synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP) was performed to examine the leaching of chromium, copper and arsenic. Results were compared to Florida's groundwater cleanup target levels (GWCTLs). Eighteen of the 22 samples collected from C&D debris processing facilities leached arsenic at concentrations greater than Florida's GWCTL of 50 microg/l. The mean leachable arsenic concentration for the C&D debris samples was 153 microg/l with a maximum of 558 microg/l. One of the colored mulch samples purchased from a retail outlet leached arsenic above 50 microg/l, while purchased mulch samples derived from virgin materials did not leach detectable arsenic (<5 microg/l). A mass balance approach was used to compute the potential metal concentrations (mg/kg) that would result from CCA-treated wood being present in wood mulch. Less than 0.1% CCA-treated wood would cause a mulch to exceed Florida's residential clean soil guideline for arsenic (0.8 mg/kg).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arsenates / adverse effects
  • Arsenates / analysis*
  • Arsenates / chemistry
  • Biological Availability
  • Chemical Precipitation
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Environment
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Florida
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment
  • Wood*


  • Arsenates
  • chromated copper arsenate