Ensure pallet safety before you attempt to reuse any pallet in your home or garden.
Pallet reuse is being suggested in many publications and social media to recycle waste materials. I’ve been considering what to do with my accumulating pile of pallets. People disassemble and re-imagine beautiful furniture, including headboards, wine racks, outdoor couches, herb gardens, and even tiny houses – but are they safe?
Shipping pallets are treated to prevent mold, mildew, rot, insects, and rodent destruction. One treatment chemical is Methyl Bromide (MB), a broad spectrum pesticide. MB can enter your system through inhalation of the fumes from the wood, as well as through the eyes and skin. Simply handling the wood or just having the wood in your home can contaminate your body. In addition, using contaminated wood in your garden can also be absorbed in your soil and plants.
EPA list MB as a “highly acute toxic”. Inhalation of MB may cause abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, convulsions, labored breathing, vomiting, weakness, hallucinations, lack of coordination, and loss of speech. Skin contact with MB may cause itching, redness, burning, pain, blisters, blurred vision, and temporary loss of vision.
The pallet industry is regulated internationally with International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) on each pallet stamped with the necessary information to make safe choices. Look for Heat Treated (designated by an “HT” stamp) pallets to avoid any possible health concerns. Pallets with an “MB” stamp should be avoided. Debarked (“DB” stamp) doesn’t have any relevance on safety. Stamps will include:
- Country origin
- IPPC logo
- Treatment Form
- Numeric Code
- Inspector Code
If the label is missing or worn off, don’t use the wood. Also avoid any pallet that appears to have stains, which may indicate a hazardous chemical has been spilled on the wood.
Now that we know all the facts about pallet safety, let’s start hunting for free resources!