ST. LOUIS - You see images of wood pallets that have been reinvented into home décor all over websites like Pinterest. You may think they're harmless scrap being repurposed but Dana Dean tells us about some potential hidden dangers.
Pallet projects are popular for so many reasons. It's often free material, and people love the idea of reusing and recycling. Plus, the decorating possibilities are endless.
You can see just how creative people are getting with reusing wooden pallets, from the garden to inside the home. A horticulturalist at the University of Illinois, Candice Miller, looked into the safety of reusing pallets and found out that there's things you need to look for before decorating.
First, she says to avoid pallets marked with "MB" which means it's been treated with the pesticide methyl bromide. Instead, look for HT, which means heat treated. Unmarked pallets are generally okay to use.
But take into consideration where the pallet is coming from. You don't want something that was carrying harmful chemicals or food.
Always wash the pallet with hot soapy water or bleach. Consider painting or sealing the pallet.
Craig Martin is the co-owner of the company American Wood Inspection Services that performs inspections of pallet facilities for export. He says there are things people need to be aware of when looking for pallets to decorate with.
"You have no idea where they have been. I've seen used pallets that have come out of dog food manufacturing facility that had used chicken parts still on them," said Martin.
The EPA says there's no evidence there would be exposure concerns from people contacting methyl bromide-treated pallets.
As far as where to find pallets for decorating, we checked with the organization, Perennial, which teaches people how to turn trash into treasure. They said to check local, independent places like hardware stores and printing places. Large stores typically have buy-back programs and won't give pallets to people.