Safety and first aid

Cleaning-up ash from CCA treated timber

Ash from timber treated with copper chrome arsenic (CCA) may be harmful.

CCA­ treated timber is commonly used in building structures around the home including:

  • decks
  • garden furniture
  • gazebos and patios.

Health risks of burnt CCA-treated timber

If structures made from CCA­ treated timber are damaged or destroyed by fire the remaining ash and char can contain up to 10 per cent (by weight) aresnic, copper and chromium.

Although ash is too large to be breathed into the lungs, ash particles can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Swallowing only a few grams of CCA­ treated timber can be harmful.

Safety precautions should be taken if cleaning-up burnt CCA treated timber and remaining ash.

Precautions for young children and animals

Children, pets and other animals must be kept away from contaminated ash areas until clean­ up is completed.

Safe disposal and handling of ash

Wear personal protective clothing

Before handling damaged CCA ­treated timber, it is essential to wear personal protective equipment to reduce your exposure including:

  • Gloves: gloves to protect and keep your hands clean.
  • Clothing: long sleeves and loose-fitting trousers/pants to protect your skin. If available, wear disposable coveralls that can be thrown away after use.
  • Facemask: wear a P1 or P2 facemask to prevent you from breathing in ash and fine particles.

When cleaning up

  • Do not spread ash on your property.
  • Reduce ash from being blown around by keeping it wet. Don't use a high-pressure water spray.
  • Use a shovel to pick up ash, don't sweep or wash it away.
  • Pick up ash and put it into a plastic bag (thick plastic / garden bags available from the hardware store).


  • Ash should be double bagged, sealed and taken directly to your local landfill.
  • Damaged timber can also be taken to landfill.
  • Do not bury CCA treated timbers.
  • Do not put ash in general rubbish or organics bin.

Wash after clean-up

  • Wash and clean hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Wash clothes (or throw away disposable coveralls) and shoes before wearing again.

If you come into contact with ash

After coming into contact with ash, it should be washed off your hands, face and neck as needed (e.g. can use a portable camp shower to wash and change before leaving the site). If ash gets in your eyes, gently wash out your eyes with clean water.

Seek medical help

If you or anyone in your family experience symptoms or is suspected to have swallowed ash from CCA ­treated timber, seek medical attention.

More information

Learn more about CCA treated wood.

Last reviewed: 19-10-2023
Environmental Health Directorate

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

Questions? Ask your local government environmental health services