There are two basic types of PT on the market right now: CCA, and then the copper-based alternatives: Copper Azole and ACQ. All three are found throughout the marketplace.

You should practice safe cutting methods with all three, and I recommend a mask, gloves, and eye protection. I’ll include info from our safe handling brochure for CCA below. (I work for a large pressure treating operation in the east). Follow the same methods for the copper alternatives.


Consumer Safety Information Sheet

for CCA Pressure Treated Lumber

Inorganic Arsenical Pressure-Treated Wood (including CCA, ACA, and ACZA)

This wood has been preserved by pressure-treatment with an EPA-registered pesticide containing chromated copper arsenate (CCA) to protect it from termite attack and decay. Wood treated with CCA should be used only where such protection is important.

CCA penetrates deeply into and remains in the pressure treated wood for a long time. However, some chemical may migrate from treated wood into surrounding soil over time and may also be dislodged from the wood surface upon contact with skin. Exposure to CCA may present certain hazards. Therefore, the following precautions should be taken both when handling the treated wood and in determining where to use and dispose of the treated wood.

Use Site Precautions for CCA Pressure-Treated Wood

All sawdust and construction debris should be cleaned up and disposed of after construction. Do not use treated wood under circumstances where the preservative may become a component of food or animal feed. Examples of such sites would be use of mulch from recycles arsenic-treated wood, cutting boards, counter tops, animal bedding, and structures or containers for storing animal feed or human food.

Only treated wood that is visibly clean and free of surface residue should be used for patios, decks and walkways. Do not use treated wood for construction of those portions of beehives which may come into contact with honey. Treated wood should not be used where it may come into direct or indirect contact with drinking water, except for uses involving incidental contact such as docks or bridges.

Handling Precautions for CCA Pressure-Treated Wood

Dispose of treated wood by ordinary trash collection. Treated wood should not be burned in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces or residential boilers because toxic chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. Treated wood from commercial or industrial use (e.g., construction sites) may be burned only in commercial or industrial incinerators or boilers in accordance with state and Federal regulations.

Avoid frequent or prolonged inhalation of sawdust from treated wood. When sawing, sanding, and machining treated wood, wear a dust mask. Whenever possible, these operations should be performed outdoors to avoid indoor accumulations or airborne sawdust from treated wood.

When power sawing and machining, wear goggles to protect eyes from flying particles. Wear gloves when working with the wood. After working with the wood, and before eating, drinking, toileting, and use of tobacco products, wash exposed areas thoroughly.

Because preservatives or sawdust may accumulate on clothes, they should be laundered before reuse. Wash work clothes separately from other household clothing.