How to Determine If a Wood Pallet Is Safe for Use

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I've noticed recently that there is a lot of incorrect or outdated information regarding wood pallets.

My company makes dozens of pallets each day so I thought I would clear the air in regard to new pallets in the U.S.

Step 1: NPPO/IPPC Standars

More companies are starting to build one-time-use pallets or using heat treatment rather than Methyl Bromide fumigation.

Pallets now require an IPPC logo which certifies that the pallet was heat-treated or fumigated with Methyl Bromide.

The standard is a 2 letter country code (xx), a unique number (000) assigned by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), HT for Heat Treatment or MB for Methyl Bromide, and DB to signify debarked.

The logo in the first image shows that it was produced in the U.S., the material was provided by 11187 (Unique number assigned to the producer), it was heat treated (HT) and was verified by PRL (Package Research Laboratory)

Step 2: Things to Consider

The logo in the second images shows that it has also been debarked

This pallet is about as clean as they get. It was heat treated, produced in the U.S. and debarked.

There are some additional codes that can go on pallets but the main one to watch out for is MB. It means it was treated with Methyl Bromide.

If you don't see an IPPC logo then you know not to use it. While a pallet may be perfectly safe without the logo, it could also mean it was treated with chemicals.

Another issue is what has spilled on the pallet. I'd be careful, personally, about oily pallets or ones that have clearly had something spilled on them.

Step 3: Reference

Here are some links to the laws:

Federal Mandate

IPPC Standards FAQ

ISPM 15

Also, keep in mind that many pallets are used for international shipping. While most industrialized countries have an NPPO, not all do. That means the country may not comply with the standards of other countries.

For the most part, if you stick by these guidelines and don't make a food cutting board from a pallet, you should be safe using them for projects.

As with any project involving cutting wood, you should always use a mask to keep from breathing in particles and pollutants.

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66 Discussions

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copperaxe

6 years ago on Introduction

Good job I love it when people on the inside of whatever drop some info to the public. Methyl Bromide, gonna have to look that up but I think thats what is being used now instead of the old (better working though) arsenic composition used years ago for preservative/ pest control in lumber.

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

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jfowler8copperaxe

Reply 2 years ago

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

Seems like that would be common sense, but I see people burn it. They have no clue what they are doing to the environment!

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JenniferF183

Question 4 months ago on Step 3

I never realized some are “not safe”. I picked up a bunch of pallets from all different places/shapes and designs to use in my backyard for a doggie playground, agility course and some “deck” over muddy areas. Some are not marked. Are they ok to be used outside regardless of any markings or non markings or would they still be unsafe? Please advise. Thank you!!

1 more answer
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minnecrapolisJenniferF183

Answer 4 months ago

Non-marked are probably (I’d venture a guess as to absolutely) not safe.

Here’s the thing that really matters:

Is anyone or any thing going to touch them regularly without protection (gloves) and is anyone or any thing going to chew on them (like dogs).

If so, don’t use unmarked or any pallet that doesn’t have the HT Mark.

And if it’s stained, even HT pallets ...no. You don’t know what caused that stain.

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moto999

6 months ago

Hi I am uk I got pallets I worried I looked everywhere I can't find what this means EK9, 10 SIN can help ?

1 reply
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minnecrapolismoto999

Reply 6 months ago

It's from Denmark and is considered safe, natural wood.

Denmark phased out Methyl Bromide in 1998.

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DannyG30

1 year ago

Pallet only marking PPG OT07-15 is it safe?

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AdenT5

1 year ago

MFG BY

RBO what does this mean

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kathymccown

1 year ago

Can anyone tell me what these codes on the pallets mean? HT with MLP under the HT, BCP, and MH. I have looked all over and can't find these three designations anywhere. Thanks!

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RTD1954

6 years ago on Introduction

Thanx. I typically use pallets for firewood. Can I assume that if it says HT, that it has no chemicals and can be used for firewood (open fire pit, back yard or camping... not indoors)

3 replies
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minnecrapolisRTD1954

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

If it says HT then, by law, that means Heat Treated and no chemicals.

I know many people burn pallets. I don't see why you couldn't. I guess you just have to hope the company producing the pallet is being honest.

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Pallet12345minnecrapolis

Reply 1 year ago

Just because it says HT doesn't mean it is safe. It could have been heat treated 5 years ago and every board on it replaced with a non HT board.

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Pallet12345

1 year ago

This article is written by someone who doesn't even work in the pallet industry. Let me tell you just because it says HT doesn't mean it is safe.

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minnecrapolisPallet12345

Reply 1 year ago

How can you be so wrong in such a short comment?

Legally they can't just swap out boards that don't match the HT label.

Does it happen? Sure, but not usual unless the business is shady.

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GinnyS7

2 years ago

Thank you for the information.

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TeresaM7

3 years ago on Introduction

Thank you! The shelving in my shed won't be a problem either way, but when I start making planters/raised garden beds, I'll need this information. Well done, sir, for sharing the much needed information!

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Scottap74

3 years ago

Wondering if this is a chemical treated pallet .can anyone help.

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