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In order for wood to be preserved so that it is resistant against weather, insects, fungus and rot it needs to be preserved. The importance of wood preservation cannot be overstated especially when wood is being used for applications such as in construction. CCA poles are poles which are treated with chromate copper arsenate. Chromate copper arsenate from here on referred to as CCA is one of the most popular preservatives for wood. In this article we will be taking a brief look into what CCA is and why CCA poles are used.

Chromate copper arsenate is a preservative that has been used for over sixty years for the treatment of wood. It is classified as a water-borne preservative and is popularly used because it has the capacity to preserve wood for over 40 years. The 3 ingredients in CCA is copper, arsenic and chromium. The copper is used for effectively controlling fungi, arsenic is used to prevent termite infestation and chromium to bond the copper and arsenic into the wood.


When wood is going through a CCA treatment it is impregnated with preservative in order to get the preservative to soak into the inner parts of the wood pressure needs to be applied. The pieces of wood are placed in a chamber with the treatments and pressure is then exerted to force the treatment to soak into the wood.


CCA poles in the beginning were used only in the commercial sector but in 1970s it became popular in the private/ homeowner sector too.


Environmental concerns


Most environmental concern about CCA centres around the use of arsenic. Arsenic is very toxic and can cause a multitude of health complications and death if taken in high dosages. The amount of arsenic used in CCA treatments is very low however and companies need to comply with very specific regulations when using such a treatment. The type of arsenic used in CCA treatment is 5 – 10 times less toxic than the standard arsenic.


That being said many countries have put more stringent measures in place when it comes to the applications of CCA. For example the treatment can no longer be used on wooden structures that are used in a public environment, like in the creation of wooden furniture, playground equipment, decking boards and so forth.