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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances



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Creosote - "Creosote is typically distilled from coal tar. Creosote, in its pure form or mixed with petroleum hydrocarbons (such as fuel oil), has been used as a wood preserving chemical in North America for more than one hundred years." - Pankow and Cherry, 1996

Creosote - "[A] representative type of petroleum hydrocarbon ... [and] has a broad range of industrial applications ... Creosote is used in wood preservatives." - National Research Council, 1993

Creosote - "Creosote is a wood preservative used for commercial purposes only; it has no registered residential uses. Creosote is obtained from high temperature distillation of coal tar (itself a mixture of hundreds of organic substances), and over 100 components in creosote have been identified. It is used as a fungicide, insecticide, miticide, and sporicide to protect wood and is applied by pressure methods to wood products, primarily utility poles and railroad ties." - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011

Creosote - "Creosote is the name used for a variety of products: wood creosote, coal tar creosote, coal tar, coal tar pitch, and coal tar pitch volatiles. These products are mixtures of many chemicals created by high-temperature treatment of beech and other woods, coal, or from the resin of the creosote bush. Coal tar creosote is the most widely used wood preservative in the United States. Coal tar, coal tar pitch, and coal tar pitch volatiles are used for roofing, road paving, aluminum smelting, and coking." - Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry, 2011

Text in brackets ("[text"]) are additions by the editor.

USGS Information on Creosote

Other Information on Creosote


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2011, Creosote: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, access date May 26, 2011.

National Research Council, 1993, In situ bioremediation--When does it work?: Washington, D.C., National Academies Press, 224 p.

Pankow, J.F., and Cherry, J.A., 1996, Dense chlorinated solvents and other DNAPLs in groundwater--History, behavior, and remediation: Portland, Oregon, Waterloo Press, 522 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011, Creosote and its use as a wood preservative: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, access date May 26, 2011. 


Disclaimer: The definitions on this page are provided for information purposes only, and do not indicate endorment by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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