Creosote Wood Preservatives
Creosote-treated wood has either a thick black mixture of coal tar chemicals on the wood or the clear to yellowish greasy resin of the creosote bush. Many railroad ties are treated with creosote or pentachlorophenol. Creosote-treated wood can leach chemicals that may dissolve in water, move through soil and contaminate groundwater. Creosote can also be taken up by plants and animals and is considered a probable human carcinogen. Creosote-treated wood may only be used in commercial applications; there are no residential uses for creosote-treated wood.
For help selecting the proper type of treated wood for any setting, consider consulting the primary standard-setting body for treated wood, the American Wood-Preservers' Association (AWPA).
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (7:30am-3:30pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Resources on Creosote Treated Wood:
- What is that Black Goo on Railroad Ties and Utility Poles? - Montana State University Extension Service
- Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) for Creosote - U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Creosote and Its Use as a Wood Preservative - U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Assessment of the environmental effects associated with wooden bridges preserved with creosote, pentachlorophenol, or chromated copper arsenate - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Wood Creosote ToxFAQs - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Public Health Statement for Creosote - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Toxicological Profile for Creosote - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)