For 3 decades, builders of outdoor decks, arbors, swing sets, and other unpainted structures have relied almost exclusively on the greenish wood known as pressure-treated lumber. Annual sales of some 7 billion board feet of this wood created a U.S. industry worth $4 billion per year. What makes the lumber so useful is what the pressure treatment forced into it: a toxic cocktail of arsenic and other pesticides that deters termites, other insects, fungi, and microbes.
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