Impact of Surface Water Conditions on Preservative Leaching and Aquatic Toxicity from Treated Wood Products

New alternative wood preservatives contain higher levels of copper (Cu) which can promote aquatic toxicity in natural water systems. Earlier work focused on evaluating toxicity using laboratory generated leaching solutions. In this study, the impact on preservative leaching and aquatic toxicity from treated wood products was evaluated using natural surface waters including waters from two rivers, three lakes, two wetlands, and one seawater, in addition to synthetic moderate hard water and deionized water. Blocks of wood treated with Cu based alternatives such as alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) and copper boron azole (CBA), along with chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood, were leached under quiescent conditions, and total Cu, labile Cu, and heavy metal toxicity were measured. Results show that ACQ- and CBA-treated wood leach approximately 10 and 20 times more total Cu relative to CCA-treated wood and that the presence of organic and inorganic ligands in natural waters lowered the labile fraction of Cu relative to that from laboratory generated leaching solutions. Aquatic toxicity was found to correlate with the labile Cu fraction, and hence, the aquatic toxicity of the treated wood leachates was lower in natural waters in comparison to laboratory leaching solutions. The results of the present study suggest that studies designed to evaluate the impacts of treated wood should therefore consider the role of complexation in reducing the labile Cu fraction and its potential role in decreasing toxicity.