Pressure Treated vs. Cedar Wood

Asked April 16, 2015, 8:46 AM EDT

We were preparing for a community garden with 10 large raised beds. My volunteer gardeners requested I change my request of pressure treated wood to cedar because the chemicals in the wood could get into the vegetables. I was with Lowe's Management last night and they are able to donate the entire amount of wood if we go with pressure treated (which could cost $2,272) . They also stated they do not have enough cedar and even if they obtained it from other stores it would be out of the price range they could donate. I asked if I could get back with her before we make a decision. I did some research last night and the first ten articles on the Internet explained Arsenic was used in pressure treated wood until 2003. There were very few cases of problems but our government and the lumber companies changed and stopped treating the wood with arsenic. Now the pressure treated wood has been safe since 2003. The ten articles were clear the wood is now safe but they were on the Internet which is not always reliable. Since we are growing fruits and vegetables for consumption I wanted to make sure and ask. We are a low income housing project with a small budget. The $2,272 worth of wood is a huge deal for us but I want to be safe for our residents and the food pantry we are donating to and all who will consume the food. Would you accep the donation worth $2,272 of pressure treated wood or would you spend the money out of slim budget on Cedar wood?

Wayne County Michigan fruits and vegetables community gardens

1 Response

Dear Gardener:

Scott Leavengood, Director of the Oregon Wood Innovation Center provided a concise but thorough answer to this same question at: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/raised-bed-lumber-pressure-treated-safe

He suggests that you make sure that the wood you use is treated with ACQ, which is an alternative wood-treatment chemical that contains no arsenic, chromium, or any other chemical considered toxic by the EPA."

I hope this was helpful.