Creosote chemical review


The term ‘creosote’ refers to a range of chemical mixtures obtained by the high-temperature processing of wood or coal. There are essentially two types of creosote: one derived from the distillation of coal tar (coal tar creosote) and the other from wood tar (wood creosote).

Creosotes and related complex chemical mixtures containing phenols and cresols are used in agriculture for the protection of timber and timber structures against attack from insect pests and from fungal decay. Creosote was also previously used in Australia as a veterinary treatment of lameness in horses.In October 2004, the NDPSC reviewed the safety of creosotes and their scheduling. The result of that review was that creosote derived from coal and beechwood was rescheduled and placed in schedule 7 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons, based on concerns about carcinogenicity. Further information on the NDPSC decision is in the NDPSC record of reasons, 38th meeting (external site) and the NDPSC record of reasons 42nd meeting (external site).

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