With some common-sense precautions, it is safe to handle preserved wood products during your project.
Preserved wood may contain materials which cause skin irritation. Avoid frequent or prolonged skin contact with preserved wood. When handling the wood, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use gloves impervious to chemicals (for example, gloves that are vinyl coated).
Follow good personal hygiene after handling preserved wood. Wash hands and any exposed areas thoroughly after handling preserved wood, especially before eating, drinking or using tobacco products.
Avoid inhalation of sawdust from preserved wood products. When sawing the wood, wear a dust mask. Sawing operations should only be performed outdoors. When power-sawing, wear goggles to protect eyes from flying particles.
If preservative or sawdust from preserved wood accumulates on clothes, launder before reuse. Launder work clothes separately from other clothing.
When the life of your preserved wood is done, either because it has become obsolete with new development or because it has fulfilled its life expectancy, it should be disposed of properly.
Try to recycle preserved wood if possible. Parks, farms and residential landscaping often can utilize recycled preserved wood for projects that are exposed in the outdoors.
Preserved wood should not be burned in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces or residential boilers because hazardous chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. Preserved wood from commercial or industrial use (i.e. construction sites) may be burned only in commercial or industrial incinerators or boilers in accordance with state and federal regulations.
Preserved wood can be used in an industrial biofuel burner, if it is a permitted facility that can meet state and federal air quality standards. It is considered biomass in several states and may be eligible for renewable energy credits.
As a last resort, send it to a landfill. Preserved wood is not considered hazardous waste and can be disposed of normally into an approved landfill.
Specific regulations in disposing preserved wood are detailed in the publication Management of Used Treated Wood Products in the Western U.S.
California requires preserved wood waste to be disposed in approved landfills. Review the state regulations regarding the disposal of preserved wood in the California government's Treated Wood Waste website. Click here to download a list of California approved landfills. For additional information, see the California Disposal section in the Preserved Wood Tech Library.