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Are we breathing toxic woodsmoke?

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Forum topic by sophiasieber posted 11-21-2015 04:01 AM 1065 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sophiasieber

1 post in 381 days


11-21-2015 04:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question woodburning

My father in-law has been bringing in truckloads of scraps that he got free from the lumber yard, to burn in the fireplace. I looked at the stack the other day and noticed they all had the tiny perforations that are visible in pressure treated lumber. My partner and I brought up the concern that we (and our two year old) are breathing toxic fumes when we visit and a fire is going in the living room. My father in-law seemed mildly insulted that we would suggest that, and brushed it off by insisting that the scraps were the end pieces cut off before the mill treated the wood. I am fairly certain that there would not be marks on it unless it were tainted. My questions is- does this wood look safe? Is it even possible for lumber to have these perforations before pressure treating?

I have to say we’ve been avoiding going there because of the exposure risk (and avoiding conflict). I would very much appreciate having these concerns put to rest!

Thanks, Sophia


22 replies so far

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7913 posts in 1843 days


#1 posted 11-21-2015 04:26 AM

Contact the sawmill and ask.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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runswithscissors

2187 posts in 1488 days


#2 posted 11-21-2015 05:16 AM

Don’t burn it. Ask your FIL not to bring any more.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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Knothead62

2581 posts in 2424 days


#3 posted 11-21-2015 02:00 PM

Question: what else do you inhale in the course of a day? I agree though, contact the sawmill and ask.

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mahdee

3551 posts in 1230 days


#4 posted 11-21-2015 02:49 PM

Doesn’t look like treated wood. Treated wood coming out of the oven is usually soaking wet and greenish color.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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HarveyM

92 posts in 1485 days


#5 posted 11-21-2015 03:02 PM

Sophia-
I’m inclined to trust the nose in this case. If you can’t smell wood smoke in their house, your risk is minute.
Your father-in-law is right that the perforations are made before the wood is treated
(http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2531/NREM-5047web%20color.pdf)

But I’m not sure if the offcuts are done before or after the treatment step, if they’re from a lumber yard (and not the manufacturer) I’d be suspicious.

-- Just a Duffer

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MarcusM

57 posts in 2443 days


#6 posted 11-21-2015 04:52 PM

PT wood, once dimensioned for thickness and width, is then perforated to allow for deeper penetration of the treatment. The last thing done just prior to the teatment is to dimension it to length. If it wasn’t first cut to length you wouldn’t get the treatment penetration on the ends of the final product where it is most crucial to help prevent rot. I’d say those off-cuts are definitely from pre-treatment boards.

Regards, Mark

-- Tilbilly Mark

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WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 639 days


#7 posted 11-21-2015 05:04 PM

In a far far away century I watched my grandfather build a fireplace for his house. He told me that a properly designed fireplace should draw all of the smoke up the chimney and there should be no smell of smoke in the room.

I agree with HarveyM in if you can’t smell the smoke you should be ok. Also consider how long you are exposed. A couple of hour visit occasionally compared to living in the house.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

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Hermit

38 posts in 788 days


#8 posted 11-21-2015 05:26 PM

I would never burn pressure treated wood indoors (or outdoors) and there’s definitely PT wood in that photo. Here’s a little info.
http://www.arboristsite.com/community/threads/reasons-why-we-dont-burn-pressure-treated-wood.71229/
http://www.strongtie.com/productuse/ptwoodfaqs.html

-- Sawdust? You mean man Glitter!!!

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7913 posts in 1843 days


#9 posted 11-21-2015 09:16 PM


... there s definitely PT wood in that photo.
- Hermit

Why do you believe that?

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View clin's profile

clin

513 posts in 459 days


#10 posted 11-22-2015 12:34 AM



In a far far away century I watched my grandfather build a fireplace for his house. He told me that a properly designed fireplace should draw all of the smoke up the chimney and there should be no smell of smoke in the room.

I agree with HarveyM in if you can t smell the smoke you should be ok. Also consider how long you are exposed. A couple of hour visit occasionally compared to living in the house.

- WoodNSawdust

In general I would agree. But some chemicals can be very toxic in small amounts. So just because you can’t smell smoke, doesn’t mean there isn’t something dangerous there. I have no idea how bad PT chemicals are, and perhaps they could even be harmless when burned.

This reminds my of the plastic coated wood bowling pins my dad used to burn in our fireplace 50 years ago. I can only image the nasty stuff that went up the chimney.

-- Clin

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bigblockyeti

3668 posts in 1183 days


#11 posted 11-22-2015 01:21 AM

It’s probably fine.

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JohnStevens

22 posts in 2420 days


#12 posted 11-26-2015 08:05 AM

Great rule of thumb: Never ever ever burn PT wood. Depending on how old the wood is, it could have CCA (arsenic) in it which is toxic. Even the newer stuff is still nasty stuff. Even worse for children or older folks. If it is illegal to dispose of it in landfills, it certainly should not be burned!

From several air quality management district web sites “Treated wood should not be burned in stoves, fireplaces or outdoors because toxic chemicals are produced as part of the smoke and ash and can be harmful if inhaled. It is legal to dispose of treated wood in the landfill, although it’s always best to find a way to re-use it. Some of the chemicals that are commonly used as a wood preservative are Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), Ammoniacal Copper Arsenate (ACA), creosote and pentachlorophenol.”

-- "I'll show you my tenon if you show me your mortise!"

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rwe2156

2192 posts in 943 days


#13 posted 11-26-2015 11:39 AM

A. That doesn’t look like PT. You should believe what he says or check for markings before you “panic”.
B. The smoke should be going up the chimney not in your lungs.
C. That looks like pine, which is he really shouldn’t be burning in a fireplace anyway.
D. Chill – You’re over reacting. If you had any idea of the thousands of toxic substance you come into contact every day you wouldn’t believe it. Want to talk about molds?

No go home and check your AC filter ;-)

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Redoak49

1947 posts in 1451 days


#14 posted 11-26-2015 12:21 PM

No way I would even take a chance exposing a 2 year old to the smoke. The smoke and ash are hazardous. Chill…no way. In addition, the smoke outside could contaminate your yard and surrounding area and people.

If it is pressure treated and he is burning it then the house is contaminated with toxic chemicals as some smoke escapes from a fireplace. A two year old put everything in there mouth.

Are you worried about insulting your father in law or protecting your child?

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2324 posts in 1759 days


#15 posted 11-26-2015 02:18 PM

Most of that pile looks like cedar so I wouldn’t worry. But to all the folks who say ‘it’s okay to burn anything if you don’t smell the fumes’ I say burning P.T. is illegal, in my township anyway. Burning P.T. is really bad for the environment. Burying the stuff isn’t much better.

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