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What will happen to your health if you burn tanalised timber in an open fire?

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Tanalised timber refers to wood that has been industrially treated using a controlled vacuum pressure process with Tanalith preservative. Tanalised and Tanalith are registered trade marks of Arch Timber Protection, and may not be used to describe other formulations. Tanalith C preservative contains chromated copper arsenate (CCA). In Europe, the use of Tanalised C pressure treated timber was restricted in 2006, and its replacement there is Tanalised E pressure treated timber, which contains copper and triazole biocides - which are commonly used to protect food crops. The options for disposal of Tanalised wood are dependent on the formulation of Tanalith preservative that the timber was treated with, which can be identified by analysis. The Code of Practice in Related Links gives recommended advice on how treated timber can be disposed of effectively. Tanalised E may be burned in approved industrial incinerators, but should not be burned in open fires or home wood burners. Please see the Related Link for more detailed information. When burned, Tanalised C or CCA treated timber releases toxic chemicals into the air and concentrates them in the ash. The treatment of this timber may incorporate Copper, Chrome and Arsenic. These can all be classed as heavy metal toxins. Symptoms will vary depending on the degree of poisoning but can include:
  • loss of appetite,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhoea,
  • skin tingling,
  • cramping of muscles,
  • seizures,
  • hearing loss,
  • sleepiness,
  • confusion,
  • headaches,
  • fainting,
  • dizziness.
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