Arsenic Timber Treatments

Two types of chemicals are used in arsenic timber treatments, copper chrome arsenate and arsenic trioxide.

Copper chrome arsenate is a preservative used to prevent insects, wood rot and wood fungus damaging timber and timber structures. It is used to treat wood intended for outdoor use, such as telegraph poles, fence palings, in landscaping and in building structures.

Arsenic trioxide dust is used by licensed pest control operators (authorised under state or territory legislation) for the post-construction control of termites around buildings.

Arsenic Timber Treatments Review

Status: review completed (June 2005)


The APVMA reviewed arsenic based timber treatments following concerns for the health of people coming into contact with the arsenic in treated timber structures.

In March 2005 the APVMA released the Arsenic Timber Treatments Review Final Report (PDF, 715kb). The APVMA cancelled the use of copper chrome arsenate for treating timber destined for garden furniture, picnic tables, exterior seating, children’s play equipment, patio and domestic decking, and handrails. Timber treated with copper chrome arsenate must be clearly labeled as such and can only be used in situations in which people will not come into regular contact with it.

The APVMA also recommended new instructions on copper chrome arsenate product labels for timber treatment operations, waste management and disposal, and the protection of the environment.

New rules for treating timber with copper chrome arsenate (CCA) came into force from 1 July 2012.

CCA is commonly applied to timber use outdoors and in-ground to protect it from decay and insect attack.

From 1 July 2012, CCA products became restricted chemical products. This means, CCA can only be supplied to, and used by, suitably trained persons authorised under state/territory law from that date.

An APVMA review of CCA, completed in 2005 recommended restricting the supply of CCA only to authorised personnel. This is meant to ensure that CCA is applied to timber to appropriate standards by suitably trained persons.

Information on appropriate standards (PDF, 179kb) | (RTF, 83kb) and training requirements.

Read a full history of the review.

The APVMA has the authority to regulate the copper chrome arsenate products used to treat timber but does not have the power to control how people use the structures made from copper chrome arsenate-treated timber.

Arsenic trioxide used correctly should not cause harmful effects to people as the treated areas of timber are covered after application.

Arsenic Timber Treatments archive

Title Date
Media Release: New restrictions in place for arsenic-treated timber. June 2012
Copper chrome arsenate (CCA) - Frequently Asked Questions June 2012
Review update (training requirements) January 2012
Review Update March 2006
DEWHA Advice to the APVMA (PDF, 179kb) | (RTF, 83kb) July 2012
Media Release: Some uses of CCA timber treatments to be phased out. March 2005

Arsenic Timber Treatments Final Report:

March 2005
Arsenic Review Scope (PDF, 52kb) March 2003
Media Release: Copper Chrome Arsenate (CCA) - APVMA puts industry on notice July 2003
Media Release: Registration of Arsenic Based Timber Treatments to be Reviewed March 2003

Product Search

Search the PUBCRIS database for registered products that contain arsenic based products.

Hint: Enter arsenic in the Active Constituent 1 field.


For more information contact:

Chemical Review

Phone: +61 2 6210 4749

Fax: +61 2 6210 4776


Last updated on 26 July, 2012

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get fortnightly, regular updates from the APVMA. Read more