Burning treated wood pallets releases toxins

Officials with Chugach National Forest are warning the public against burning old pallets marked with the letters MB, least the burning wood release toxic chemicals into the air.

While some pallets constructed from untreated wood can be safely burned, many pallets are treated with pesticides, fumigants or chemicals to prevent rotting or insect infestations.

Painted pallets, those visibly contaminated, or pallets marked with the letters MB should never be burned.

Methyl bromide, or MB, has been found to be detrimental to the environment and poses significant health issues.

Smoke from such burning pallets can cause breathing hazards, and prolonged exposure may contribute to long-term health problems. In addition, burning treated lumber can release construction chemicals into the air and leach into soil and groundwater.

Even untreated wood pallets that are otherwise safe to burn may contain nails or large staples. While campfires may reach temperatures exceeding 600 degrees Fahrenheit, steel nails don’t melt until around 2600 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving a large amount of dangerous debris behind.