There is increasing public concern about environmental contamination from preservative treated wood due to release of toxic preservative components to the environment. Leaching of wood preservatives from treated wood in service can be affected by a number of factors such as wood and preservative treatment characteristics and properties of water and soil substrate in which treated wood is placed i.e. salinity, pH, and temperature. Laboratory leaching tests usually require distilled or deionized water for leaching procedure however treated wood is generally exposed to different types of water and soil conditions. This study evaluates the release of copper, chromium and arsenic elements from chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood exposed to either distilled water, tap water, sea water or humic acid. Leaching tests were conducted in laboratory conditions using wood blocks treated with CCA wood preservative at either low or high retention levels. Results showed that tap water resulted in less preservative release when compared to the other leaching media used in the study. Humic acid was the most effective medium causing more element leaching. The percentage of components leached was always higher in wood blocks treated at the high retention in comparison with the low retention level. Our results from the leaching tests can be important in developing more realistic standard leaching methods to evaluate preservative components to be released from treated wood. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.