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Environmental impact of CCA poles in service
1997 - IRG/WP 97-50087
Soil samples from different depths and distances from CCA treated utility poles in Canada were analyzed for copper, chromium and arsenic content for a number of soil types, two wood species red pine (Pinus resinosa) and jack pine (P. banksiana) and different pole ages in service. A limited number of poles were equipped with water traps to collect rain water that dripped down the poles and where sufficient ground water was present, ground water samples from next to the pole were analyzed. The level of soil contamination dropped rapidly with distance from the pole, with soil levels approaching background levels within 0.25 from the pole. Generally, copper levels (above background) were highest, followed by arsenic and chromium, consistent with the known relative leaching tendencies of the three elements. Contaminant levels increased with age of the pole in service and were generally highest in wet organic soils, followed by sand loam soils and clay soils. Soil concentrations were highest at the ground line, adjacent to the poles. This suggested that a large source of the soil contamination was contaminated rain water that ran down the pole. Rain water trapped from the pole surfaces during rain events had significant concentrations of all three elements. There was no obvious drop in contaminant content in water that dripped down the poles with age of the poles. Ground water samples from next to the poles occasionally had detectable CCA components above aquatic and drinking water guidelines.
P A Cooper, Y T Ung, J-P Aucoin