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Toxic hazard of leachates from furfurylated wood: Comparison between two different aquatic organisms



Environmental concern regarding the use of toxic preservatives such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) has been put forward. In the European Union, United States, and Japan, CCA has been phased out for residential and water-contact applications. Ecotoxicological studies of wood treated with conventional preservatives were carried out in the late 1990s, and it was concluded that the main impact is to water and aquatic organisms. Today, alternatives to conventional preservation methods, marketed as “environmentally friendly” or “nontoxic,” are emerging. Examples of such alternatives are modified wood, e.g., thermally modified, furfurylated, and acetylated wood. To date, not enough hazard characterization has been performed. In the present study, the Microtox® assay with the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the Daphtox® procedure with the crustacean Daphnia magna were used as screening methods in an effect assessment. Both organisms were exposed to water leachates from furfurylated wood using two different leaching procedures. The results indicate that Microtox is more sensitive to the toxic components from furfurylated wood than Daphtox. Furthermore, the toxicity of treated Pinus radiata was higher than that of treated Pinus sylvestris. The toxicity did not diminish over the test period, as is the case for preservative-treated wood. The present study found that treatment conditions can influence the toxicity considerably, so toxicity studies should be included in the development of new treatment process. The present study also shows that using an intermediate vacuum-drying step, leading to a more efficient curing/polymerization, results in slightly less hydrophobic oligomers in the product, such that the leachates become less toxic to bacteria. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1067–1071. © 2010 SETAC

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