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    Arsenic levels surprise many

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001

    A Times
    special report

    The poison in your back yard
    Arsenic is in the pressure-treated wood used to build decks, docks, gazebos and children's play sets.

    Arsenic victims ‘never know what hit them’

    Arsenic fears rise over treated wood disposal

    CRYSTAL RIVER -- Five-year-old Seneka Jones had a puzzled look on her face. She and her brothers had just arrived at the sprawling playground behind City Hall, and their mother was telling them they had to leave.

    "Why do we have to go?" Seneka asked.

    "The playground is poisonous," her mother replied hastily. Moments earlier, Daphne Jones, 30, had learned that the wooden playground is leaching arsenic into the soil at levels nearly four times higher than the state considers safe.

    The findings were reported in an article published in the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday.

    The newspaper hired Thornton Laboratories of Tampa to test soil at five randomly picked wooden playgrounds. Each test revealed arsenic at levels higher than the state considers safe.

    Arsenic, which can cause cancer with prolonged exposure, is found in the pesticide used to treat wood, chromated copper arsenate. As it is elsewhere, the wood has also been used by the city for picnic tables, decks and gazebos.

    Some health officials say CCA-treated lumber can pose a risk to children who run, climb and swing from playgrounds. They can come in contact with arsenic either from touching the wood or playing in the dirt below.

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