Help! PT sawdust in bin

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Help! PT sawdust in bin
Author: Patrick (Pcinca)
Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 3:05 pm
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Hi Joe, yeah, I got to thinking about that PT sawdust and it sounds like there might be some confusion here.

Normally, lumber is pressure treated AFTER it is sawn and no one cuts it again until it is at a job site where PT sawdust is supposed to be gathered up and safely discarded and normal construction use wouldn't produce enough sawdust to bother with anyway.

Also, any mill that sold treated sawdust to the public would be in deep doodoo with the health department and I think there is very little likelyhood that the sawdust in question is actually the treated stuff.

If it is, however, the mill needs to be turned into the authorities as this would constitute an agregious violation of health and safety laws.

Joe, its nice that you are taking the time to check the board today- Happy Earth Day and thanks to you for your contributions to making the Earth a happy, healthier planet to live on!

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 11:07 am
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What is PT sawdust? Pressure treated? Was this from a finishing mill? I don't know what you can do with this other than to get rid of it all and start over.

Author: John Smith (John)
Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 11:44 am
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I wouldn't get too freaked out about it Sara. If it were me, I would do this:

First, get the mill to remove the sawdust and a refund if there was a misrepresentation about its quality. If not, dispose of it yourself along with the top most layer of soil.

You may need to also dispose of your contaminated compost. Has it been effectively composting? If so, then let it do it's business on an impermeable surface and when complete, use the compost around the yard and not in your food garden. If it hasn't been thermophyllically composting, you should dispose it with the soils, unfortunately.

For determining the effect on your soil and/or water; take some samples yourself.

You can ask your local USDA office for advice, but for the most part sampling your soil and water is pretty inexpensive. Sample for Copper, Chromium, and Arsenic (key indicators of PT wood).

The analytical results will give comparisons to naturally occurring metals found in your local soils so you can determine impact, if any.

It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Good luck.

John

Author: Patrick (Pcinca)
Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 11:20 am
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Sara, Pressure Treated Lumber (PT) sawdust as you have realized, is a major no-no for any exposed outdoor use, esp., around gardens! The sawdust is even worse as it can spread and more readily release it's toxic chemicals.

It is a good thing you brought this up because this a subject that needs to be aired-out on a regular basis.

Fortunately, there are remediation techniques to clean-up after this type contamination and at the link below, there is a fascinating dialogue in questions and answers about this situation. I am posting this dialogue in the hopes of sufficiently freaking out people about the hazards of PT wood/sawdust and just as importantly, letting one and all know that there are good remediation techniques available.

http://www.ibiblio.org/london/agriculture/bioremediation/1/msg00005.html

At the bottom of each page of dialogue are links to more related dialogue.

After the sawdust is eleiminated and cleaned up, one can use "hyperaccumulating plants" (bioaccumulating) for instance, to absorb any leached chemicals from the affected areas- most importantly, the veggie growing areas. These plants are then discarded and NOT recycled through the compost!

After each harvest of the bioaccumulating plants, the soil can then be tested for any lingering or residual toxins/chemicals.

If the sawdust pile was dry and little to no rain fell on it, there is probably little contamination leakage to worry about underneath the pile, but either discarding an inch or two of the soil or using the bioaccumlating plants at that location wouldn't hurt just to be safe.

Author: sara (Ojosdelaluna)
Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 7:13 am
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i forgot to mention that i water my garden using a shallow well about 50 feet deep. this well is directly next to my house and located at least 60 feet north from the PT sawdust pile and compost bin. i dont know what kind of effect this will have on my water quality/toxicity. i'm terrified.

Author: sara (Ojosdelaluna)
Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 7:05 am
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unfortunately i purchased 1 ton of sawdust from a mill and have been using it for a sawdust toilet for 6 months. the pile of sawdust is resting half on a concrete slab floor and half lying directly on the ground close to a site i planned for a future vegetable garden. i have been using this sawdust in my humanure toilet and have been composting it along with grass clippings, leaves and food scraps. i NOW realize that this is PT lumber and toxic. i have no idea what to do now. i am worried that now my composting system is ruined, i will not be able to plant any vegetables because of the toxins and that this will cost a lot of money to fix. can anyone please help me? any suggestions are very much appreciated.

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