Evaluation of commercial landscaping mulch for possible contamination from CCA

Gary Jacobi, Helena Solo-Gabriele, Brajesh Dubey, Timothy Townsend, Tomoyuki Shibata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is found in construction and demolition (C&D) debris, and a common use for wood recycled from C&D debris is the production of mulch. Given the high metals concentrations in CCA-treated wood, a small fraction of CCA-treated wood can increase the metal concentrations in the mulch above regulatory thresholds. The objective of this study was to determine the extent of contamination of CCA-treated wood in consumer landscaping mulch and to determine whether visual methods or rapid X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology can be used to identify suspect mulch. Samples were collected throughout the State of Florida (USA) and evaluated both visually and chemically. Visual analysis focused on documenting wood-chip size distribution, whether the samples were artificially colored, and whether they contained plywood chips which is an indication that the sample was, in part, made from recycled C&D wood. Chemical analysis included measurements of total recoverable metals, leachable metals as per the standardized synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP), and XRF analysis. Visual identification methods, such as colorant addition or presence of plywood, were found effective to preliminarily screen suspect mulch. XRF analysis was found to be effective for identifying mulch containing higher than 75 mg/kg arsenic. For mulch samples that were not colored and did not contain evidence of C&D wood, none exceeded leachable metal concentrations of 50 μg/L and only 3% exceeded 10 mg/kg for recoverable metals. The majority of the colored mulch made from recycled C&D wood contained from 1% to 5% CCA-treated wood (15% maximum fraction) resulting in leachable metals in excess of 50 μg/L and total recoverable metals in excess of 10 mg/kg. The maximum arsenic concentration measured in the mulch samples evaluated was 230 mg/kg, which was above the Florida residential direct exposure regulatory guideline of 2.1 mg/kg.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1765-1773
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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