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Insects and mold can damage wood over time. Treating wood with pesticides can prevent wood from rotting as quickly. Treated wood is commonly used to build telephone poles, road signs, and marine pilings, as well as decks, play structures, and raised garden beds. Several wood preservatives are registered with the EPA, each with different uses and potential risks.

Preservatives can extend the life of wood and reduce waste of forest resources, but proper use is important. Read the end tags (see Figure 1) on wood in the store to find the right type for your project. Wood touching the ground may be treated differently than wood for an aboveground use. Preservatives may leach into nearby soils or water and touching treated wood may leave residues on exposed skin. Consider wearing gloves or taking other precautions when using treated wood.

Figure 1. Example end tag

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For assistance identifying the risks of any type of treated wood, contact NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated April 25, 2023