Toxic Wood Pallets

Toxic wood pallets should be considered when creating your next DIY protect. With everyone making projects from wooden pallets we need to make sure they are safe, especially when pallets are being refurbished into furniture and garden planters. We just want to be extra sure that we don’t bring in our houses or plant vegetables in toxic pallets. Most pallets we must assume are chemically treated. This would then be dangerous in our homes.

Toxic Wood Pallets

There are safety regulations in many countries that ban pallets treated with Methyl bromide, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada are among some. Most pallets are heat treated but still it is important to know where the wooden pallet comes from. Any pallet used for international trade must bear Ippc certificate on it.

In recent past there was an outbreak on romaine lettuce. The National Consumers League had called for Stricter Safety Standards for these unregulated pallets as many pallets are used to transport food throughout the U.S. When testing pallets for foodborne pathogens it was found that 10% tested positive for E-Coli and Listeria which has a high mortality rate.


McNeil Consumers Health Care issued a recall of its Tylenol products due to complaints of moldy mildew like odor. This gives nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. The chemical is called 2, 4, 6-Tribromoanisole (TBA) which is a byproduct of the fungicide used to treat the wooden pallets. Their products were shipped on low grade wood or cardboard.

You may never really know where your pallets originated and could make it harder to determine if they are indeed toxic wood pallets. With not knowing their history this can be dangerous to people and the environment. Some recommend to only using pallets that are stamped (HT) meaning heat treated. They tend to be safer. Also DB, stands debarked are safer. The rest are probably chemically treated.

When pallets have been left outside where water and humidity get to them they can become a breeding ground for mold. Even with all the scrubbing and sanding bacteria can still be around.


Toxic Wood Pallets: Taking Precaution

I would check them over thoroughly; always assume they may have treated with chemicals. Remember to clean, scrub and sand wearing gloves.  Scrub with bleach and soapy water, rinse and allow to dry well.  Pallet wood is porous which means that bacteria can get embedded. Most pallets are not 100% safe, so best used for outdoor projects.

When using as a garden, maybe just do a flower garden in them and not a vegetable garden. Anything edible should not touch them unless you are sure they have not been chemically treated. It always pays to do a little research first for safety.