Is it safe to use dead trees for public artwork commissions?

Tree removal is a common municipal responsibility, and a number of public art programs have seized on the act as an opportunity to commission public artworks. Hurricanes, storms, or other natural catastrophes like disease or Emerald Ash Borer beetles can produce large amounts of dead trees in short amounts of time. Programs have successfully used these leftover trees to commission sculptures or build playgrounds; however, before doing so, it is very important to consult with arborists to ensure that any plans for using dead trees does not risk further contamination. Likewise, programs should be aware that wood, even when treated with a protective coating, will not last as long as other materials in an outdoor environment. Those objects should receive regular inspections to confirm their material integrity and ensure the safety of viewers.