Respiration methods used to follow the decay of wood and the toximetric evaluation of wood preservatives
R S Smith
When wood is attacked and decayed by fungi, wood substance and oxygen (02) are consumed, while carbon dioxide (CO2), water and heat are liberated. Early in the 1960's workers from England, Canada and Sweden began studying CO2 evolution, with respect to decay and its control using chemical preservatives, while in Germany and the USA O2 utilization was being similarly examined. Oxygen consumption measurements during the decay of wood were made mainly using pressure differential closed systems and were shown to be reasonably sensitive and a suitable reflection of the rate and extent of decay. Carbon dioxide measurements were made using titration, conductivity and gas-chromatographic methods. The last method appears to be the most useful, being applicable to open and closed systems, flexible in application, very sensitive over a thousand-fold concentration range change without switching, and easily automated. Its application to evaluating the toxicity of wood preservatives has been intensively studied and shown to give chemical toxic thresholds after only one third of the normal incubation time, which are similar to those based on the much longer conventional weight loss method.