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Get the full story on treated wood

Re: The poison in your back yard, March 11.

Julie Hauserman's articles contained a modicum of fact along with heavy doses of sensationalistic language and omission. Some of the omissions:

Recent work we commissioned by Dr. Christopher Teaf, director of the toxicology program at Florida State University, confirmed the safety of CCA-preserved wood on playgrounds. He found that the amount of arsenic in the soil under playgrounds would have to be more than 325 times higher than the "safe" level sited by Hauserman before it would prove carcinogenic to the child in later years.

Hauserman also failed to report on the work of Dr. John Paling, a biologist and expert in communicating risk. He found the risk of death from playing in soil beneath a play set to be less than the risk of a person on the ground being killed by a crashing airplane.

In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said: "Based on scientific data that EPA has reviewed to date, the agency has not identified any significant health concerns from short or long-term exposure to arsenic residues from pressure-treated wood."

Studies in Hawaii have shown that carpenters who work daily with pressure-treated wood have no greater risk of cancer than carpenters who work with untreated wood.

The EPA is engaged in its regular re-registration process for pressure-treated wood, and my industry has been working with the EPA to find better ways to distribute the kinds of information contained in the Consumer Information Sheets about safe ways to handle preserved wood.

My organization has repeatedly sent out news releases and advisories with the information in the CISes.

AWPI represents a variety of wood preservatives. We're in favor of consumers having a choice _ just as grocery shoppers who want to avoid pesticides may now choose organic food. If consumers wish to choose wood treated with an alternative preservative, they can certainly do so. But it should be clear that this is a personal choice and not one based on any health risks from CCA-preserved wood.

Scott Ramminger, president and CEO,

American Wood Preservers Institute,

Fairfax, Va.

Story overdramatized

Re: The poison in your backyard.

For the past five years I have been in the business of selling wooden children's play sets. Although we now sell sets made from a more expensive wood treated with ACQ, an entirely non-toxic substance, I must point out that this story about the dangers of CCA lumber was overdramatized.

The photo of the 9-month-old child on the playground cropped to show only the word "Monster" over her head is just one example.

No mention was given of soil samples taken anywhere but around playgrounds. The fact that arsenic occurs naturally in soil may have caused similar test results just about anywhere in the county. Worst of all was the fact that even with all the scary terminology, the only "victims" of this "deadly brew" the author could find were from a litigation lawyer in Indiana whose two clients were from Seattle and Salt Lake City.

If the wood that has been used for more than 20 years in Florida is so deadly, where are all the Florida "victims"?

The author omitted an important word in her story. The word is trace. There are trace amounts of arsenic in CCA treated wood, usually less than .05 percent _ enough to deter termites, not enough to pose a danger to humans. Instead, the author mentions things like "arsenic-filled wood," and that "a pinch of pure arsenic can kill you." I suppose the story would not have been quite as colorful had it included the fact that no wood contains pure or even 1 percent arsenic, and surely none is "filled" with arsenic.

For the record, of the perhaps 2,000 wooden play sets my company has sold in the past five years, we have never had a mention of any health problems. None.

Edward Walker, president, PlayNation

Play Systems of Tampa

Where children turn

The March 11 columns by Bill Maxwell and Robyn Blumner are interesting set side by side. Maxwell writes of peacefully segregated school life, and Blumner protests that violent behavior does not result from constant exposure to violence and inhumane acts both factual (the news) and fictional (imagined violence).

Is it strange that Maxwell's contemporaries could not visualize an act so bizarre as a teacher smoking a cigarette? Misconduct was throwing a pencil?

Today's students, many without either pencils or models of proper school behavior, search their environment. They see TV programs showing disrespect toward teachers, schools and learning. They see social status and self-worth at school being tied to physical attributes _ beauty, size, athletic prowess, wealth _ all equal to prestige and power.

How does a child without these gifts find self-satisfaction and gratification? In Maxwell's school it seems that the adults' awareness and caring supported proper behavior and status. Where can a child find strength without stable, loving support, without a strong morality? In today's world, Robyn, children without this support must look elsewhere. Perhaps they equate status and power with weapons of destruction and acts of violence, examples of which can be found abundantly in the media.

Fern Gordon, Palm Harbor

Too much garbage in

Re: A moment of innocence, by Bill Maxwell, March 11.

At a Rays' game last season, an 8- or 9-year-old boy sat next to me with his father on the other side. The boy had a scowl on his face most of the game. From the opening pitch, he started down the Rays' lineup, and every few minutes he would yell out, "Hey, , you suck!" After the fourth or fifth player's name was called (with his father saying nothing), I asked, "Is "suck' your favorite word? You use it an awful lot."

He flopped back in his seat, mumbled, "No," and deepened his scowl.

A few minutes later he nudged me and with a smile on his face said, "Hey, mister, I'm going to WWF next week."

I said, "Great! That explains it." (For those who don't know, that's World Wrestling Federationor World's Worst Farce, or something like that _ anyway, a great influence for a kid.)

He reminded me two more times during the game that he was going to WWF the next weekthe only times that he wasn't scowling. I turned to my wife and said, "This is one angry kid. I hope they don't have any guns at home."

There's an old saying: "Garbage in, garbage out." As we have increased our tolerance of violence on television, in movies, in music and video games, we have decreasing responsibility for one's own actions and decreasing respect for authority and one another. What do we expect?

Yes, Bill, we grew up in an era of respect and of being responsible for our actions, when the whole village helped raise a child. We watched Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Sky King, The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers. We listened to the Temptations and the Beatles. What are kids listening to and looking at now? A lot of it exudes anger. Why do some kids kill and maim animals and each other? You really want to know? "Garbage in, garbage out"!

Leroy A. McCloud, St. Petersburg

A huge story

Re: Ballot confusion cost Gore 6,600 votes, review says, March 11.

I was very disappointed to find this story hidden on page 3B rather than where it belonged, on the front page of your Sunday edition.

This is not merely "Local and Florida News" as you so categorized it. This story is of huge importance and should have been featured very prominently.

The veil is beginning to be lifted. The proof of an organized Republican conspiracy to steal this election at any cost is becoming more and more obvious. It is your newspaper's responsibility to report these types of stories prominently and to enlighten the citizenry how we were all cheated out of our votes by every act that discounted another's ballot.

I will expect better coverage of stories such as this in the future.

B.J. Star, Esq., Ozona

Market insecurity

Re: Dow tumbles below 10,000, March 15.

Tell me again about how great an idea it is to put Social Security monies in the stock market! Could it be some investments are finally paying less than Social Security?

Bob Coffey, Clearwater