Urgent! Do Not Use Wooden Pallets for Home Projects!

I received an email recently from a contact and they wanted me to share some urgent information regarding the most commonly used shipping item, wood pallets. We see wood pallets everywhere - Costco, behind buildings, wherever. It never dawned on me until I got this email just how dangerous (and gross) they are.

Read this email I received and I know that it will get you thinking, as it did me!

Recently CBS news reported on how unhealthy wood pallets are. Wood pallets are used to transport our food and medications. You may remember that in February, as reported by the media, Tylenol products were contaminated with a chemical used to treat wooden pallets. Not only is this chemical still in use by wood pallet companies, these companies continue to deny any responsibility for the huge medical risk they put you, the consumers, in. Plus wooden pallets are FILTHY from repeated use. They are often tossed outside in the rain – left to literally rot on loading docks and behind stores and later reused again for shipping! I am not a fan of plastic items but this is a case where plastic pallets should be the norm! You can clean them- bugs don’t infest them, and they do not harbor deadly diseases like wooden pallets.

Please read the following and please tell your readers not to touch or try to reuse wooden pallets for home projects ESPECIALLY FOR THE BABY’S ROOM!

Used wood pallets are a highly sought-after commodity of hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers and woodworking enthusiasts. A simple Google search of “recycled wood pallets + woodworking” reveals scores of websites and blogs offering consumers ideas and plans for reusing wood pallets – everything from cutting boards, baby cribs, and toy wood blocks, to futons, chairs and coffee tables. It’s a huge cottage industry, with a significant presence in New England, which is blithely unaware of the serious dangers posed by wood pallets.

Wood pallets harbor deadly food poisoning bacteria that threaten our nation’s food supply, and invasive foreign pests that ravage our farms and forests. Recent tests from an independent consumer watchdog group, the National Consumers League have found Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and extremely high bacteria counts on scores of wood pallets pulled at random from pallet depots in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland, ME. The test results are consistent with similar findings by USDA and FDA.

Wood pallets pose other dangerous risks. Contamination from chemicals used to treat wood pallets was cited in the recent voluntary recall of TYLENOL Arthritis pain reliever. The chemical contamination caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain in consumers. Wood pallets made with “engineered wood” components contain urea formaldehyde – a known carcinogen – which may come into contact with food under a variety of scenarios when it is stored and shipped on wooden pallets. Formaldehyde is also released into the air when it off-gases from pallets in storage and transportation compartments, posing a risk to the health of workers and consumers. Wood pallets are susceptible to insect infestation and require heat treatment or fumigation before they can be moved cross-border. Fumigation is often performed with methyl bromide, a highly toxic, ozone-depleting chemical.

Consumers must be made aware of the serious dangers presented by wood pallets, particularly when reusing wood pallets to make children’s toys. Imagine what might happen if a child chewed on a toy or furniture made from pest-infected, bacteria- and chemical-laden wood pallets?

In addition, I urge to take a few moments and participate in the Food Safety Petition http://www.petition2congress.com/2/3092/tell-congress-to-pass-food-safety-legislation/

Here is a list of sites that suggest making items form used wood pallets

DIY Dining Table Made from Wood Pallets ReadyMade | Apartment ...
By Jess Watson
Wood pallets are an unfortunate innocent bystander of our shipping needs. Often found discarded behind grocery stores and shopping malls, I'm sure (if they had feelings) they would long for a greater meaning to their one use lives. ...
Apartment Therapy Main - http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/

The Appraiser's Wife: I've got a thing for wooden pallets
By Ashley J Houck
So when I decided to have my first furniture sale I called her and told her "I need you to make a few signs for the sale" She didn't have money to buy wood so I started collecting pallets for her. She pulled them apart and made some ...
The Appraiser's Wife - http://rahouck.blogspot.com/

pure and noble: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Reclaimed Wood
By Brooke
It's hard to believe that so much beauty can be made from reclaimed wood and old wood pallets. I did a little dumpster diving for a pallet that was later broken apart to create a wall tree turned coat rack for a friend's little girl. ...
pure and noble - http://pureandnoble.blogspot.com/

Kara's Korner: Pallet Shelves
By Kara
I saw these plans from Ana's at Knock-Off Wood's website for shelves made from a pallet of wood, and I knew I wanted to make some. So I looked on craigslist, at my local stores, EVERYWHERE, and couldn't find any pallets. Seriously? ...
Kara's Korner - http://mekhart.blogspot.com/

EDGE ® Design and Innovation launches 'Slayer' shredder « Edge ...
By admin
Waste wood /Pallets / Mixed wood / Railroad ties /Telephone poles / Root stems / Green waste / MSW / Industrial waste / Bulky furniture / Mattresses / C&D / Paper / cardboard / Industrial paper rolls, etc. ...
Edge Innovate - http://www.edgeinnovate.com/news/

Scary isn't it? I completely agree that for public safety plastic pallets that can be recycled are the way to go. Plastic can be sanitized in ways that wood simply can't. As a consumer it is horrifying to think that these pallets could be contaminating food and medicines that I can readily purchase at my local grocery store.

Here's a little tid bit, from an article found at SupplyChainBrain.com, sharing what the National Consumers League found when they tested some of these wood pallets:

The NCL tested pallets for E. coli and listeria. The findings found that 10 percent of the wood pallets tested had E. coli present. In addition, 2.9 percent of the wood pallets tested positive for listeria, and half of these, when further tested, contained listeria monocytogenes, one of the most virulent food-borne pathogens.

For me, this article was eye-0pening! E. coli and listeria? Why hasn't the FDA, congress or somebody done anything about this? Putting public safety at risk to save a few dollars in my opinion morally and ethically wrong. What is it going to take to stop things like this from happening?

So please take a few moments and participate in the Food Safety Petition.

Be safe friends.



bayctygrl said…
wow! I had no idea! Thanks for the info. I never use wood pallets, but I know now to stay far away!
Hannah said…
I used to work in a grocery store and can tell you that pallets really did get very filthy.
If it is any consolation, I don't remember actually receiving product on dirty pallets, and food products are always boxed or plastic wrapped.
Wow this is scary. I have never put much thought into it, but that makes sense. There are some really nasty things on pallets.

Thanks for this info!
Cheryl said…
Wow, I had no idea. While I haven't used them in home projects, we have used them for our chicken cages (Not too many, just like 2). When my husband comes home tonight, I will have him get rid of those cages. Thanks for the heads up, I will tell everyone I know.
Anonymous said…
I see many companies who still toss their broken plastic pallets
into dumpster thinking they are of no use. One pallet is equal to
hundreds of milk jugs or water bottles. This plastic will never
decompose and they take up a lot of space in landfills. A better
solution is to contact a pallet company to recycle these items
even if they're broken. These plastic pallets can be melted down
to create other products.
You can have this company in Michigan recycle your plastic pallets at
Jeannette said…
The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association says wooden pallets have proven a safe method to transport food. In six decades of use, neither the Food and Drug Administration nor any other monitoring agency has linked wood pallets to a health-related incident. The FDA says it plans to carefully review the new tests and gather the data needed to help make sure food is transported safely.

Every time you eat at a restaurant for instance you are subjecting your self to e-coli and other bacterias.Do you really think they wash their hands every time?
Anonymous said…
How filthy are they, people that actually want to work with pallets don't really care what the heck is on them, like comment 6 said, we've been using these for how long, and the government has taken no action. It's free well build panels of wood. 10 and 2.6% is not that much. You are probably in some places (normal towns) more likley to get E. Coli from water than pallets.
Anonymous said…
I would be more inclined to believe this if there were links to original research findings showing this is indeed true. And I am fairly certain the ground we walk on and the grass we let our children play in has more germs, bacteria and God-knows-what than a shipping pallet. Let's not go overboard here. Wood, plastic--no matter the material, there are going to be downsides.
Anonymous said…
Janette- People have gotten sick from wood pallets. Google "Tylenol wood pallets"
Kristen Bishop said…
Although you have some good points, there are pallets that are not treated with chemicals. Codes are printed on most pallets and one can find what the codes are in sites such as this-http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-determine-if-a-wood-pallet-is-safe-for-use/. Furthermore, plastic has as many potential germs upon it but it doesn't absorb liquids the way wood can. Plastic is a really terrible pollution problem and people just don't take care of pallets whether they are made of wood or plastic. I don't see any reason for furniture, motorcycles or other types of things to be shipped on plastic. It is a poor use of a petroleum product. Also, my husband is a chemist and has worked in testing labs . He says e.coli is EVERYWHERE. We need exposure to a certain amount. Simple bleach or boiling water will clean and sanitize the wood on a pallet. i do this all the time. I have never used a pallet indoors but I have used them as fencing for our sheep and as compost bins. I have thought of using them to make a firewood shed. I wouldn't let a baby put plasyic in her mouth OR any wooden thing made from a pallet. But they will pick up gum from the sidewalk and chew it and somehow they survive. I am glad you posted about this- i had a friend who was making a pallet garden using a toxic pallet. It killed the plants!
Alex said…
You people are morons. Too much nonsense in this post, too far from reality. Maybe do some fact checking before reposting this drivel.
ak said…
Super site! I am Loving it!! Will return once more, Im taking your food additionally, Thanks. wooden pallets