Impact of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in wood mulch

Timothy G. Townsend, Helena Solo-Gabriele, Thabet Tolaymat, Kristin Stook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The production of landscape mulch is a major market for the recycling of yard trash and waste wood. When wood recovered from construction and demolition (C&D) debris is used as mulch, it sometimes contains chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood. The presence of CCA-treated wood may cause some potential environmental problems as a result of the chromium, copper, and arsenic present. Research was performed to examine the leachability of the three metals from a variety of processed wood mixtures in Florida. The mixtures tested included mixed wood from C&D debris recycling facilities and mulch purchased from retail outlets. The synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP) was performed to examine the leaching of chromium, copper and arsenic. Results were compared to Florida's groundwater cleanup target levels (GWCTLs). Eighteen of the 22 samples collected from C&D debris processing facilities leached arsenic at concentrations greater than Florida's GWCTL of 50 μg/l. The mean leachable arsenic concentration for the C&D debris samples was 153 μg/l with a maximum of 558 μg/l. One of the colored mulch samples purchased from a retail outlet leached arsenic above 50 μg/l, while purchased mulch samples derived from virgin materials did not leach detectable arsenic (<5 μg/l). A mass balance approach was used to compute the potential metal concentrations (mg/kg) that would result from CCA-treated wood being present in wood mulch. Less than 0.1% CCA-treated wood would cause a mulch to exceed Florida's residential clean soil guideline for arsenic (0.8 mg/kg).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jun 20 2003


  • Arsenic
  • CCA-treated wood
  • Construction and demolition (C&D) debris
  • Mulch
  • Wood waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in wood mulch'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this