Commercially available lumber, pressure-treated with micronized copper azole (MCA), has largely replaced other inorganic biocides for residential wood treatment in the USA, yet little is known about how different outdoor environmental conditions impact the release of ionic, nano-scale, or larger (micron-scale) copper from this product. Therefore, we weathered pressure treated lumber for 18 months in five different climates across the continental United States. Copper release was quantified every month and local weather conditions were recorded continuously to determine the extent to which local climate regulated the release of copper from this nano-enabled product during its use phase. Two distinct release trends were observed: In cooler, wetter climates release occurred primarily during the first few months of weathering, as the result of copper leaching from surface/near-surface areas. In warmer, drier climates, less copper was initially released due to limited precipitation. However, as the wood dried and cracked, the exposed copper-bearing surface area increased, leading to increased copper release later in the product lifetime. Single-particle-ICP-MS results from laboratory prepared MCA-wood leachate solutions indicated that a) the predominant form of released copper passed through a filter smaller than 0.45 micrometers and b) released particles were largely resistant to dissolution over the course of 6 wks. Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) testing was conducted on nonweathered and weathered MCA-wood samples to simulate landfill conditions during their end-of-life (EoL) phase and revealed that MCA wood released <10% of initially embedded copper. Findings from this study provide data necessary to complete a more comprehensive evaluation of the environmental and human health impacts introduced through release of copper from pressure treated lumber utilizing life cycle assessment (LCA).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-244
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 10 2019


  • Climate
  • Copper nanoparticles
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Micronized copper azole
  • Single-particle ICP-MS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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