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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.
Wood creosote is a colorless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor and burned taste. Coal tar creosote is a thick, oily liquid that is typically amber to black in color. Coal tar and coal tar pitch are usually thick, black, or dark-brown liquids or semisolids with a smoky odor.
Wood creosote has been used as a disinfectant, a laxative, and a cough treatment, but is rarely used these ways today. Coal tar products are used in medicines to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis, and are also used as animal and bird repellents, insecticides, restricted pesticides, animal dips, and fungicides. 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.
If the concentration of cresols in a waste is high enough, the waste may fail the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test. Cresol waste codes are D023, D024, D025, and D026.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides ToxFAQsTM Pentachlorophenol and many others. Note that the links lead away from the Department of Ecology Web site. However, the ATSDR is the Federal government's general clearinghouse for toxicity information.
See the ATSDR ToxFAQsTM for Creosote.
Focus on Treated Wood Exclusion is an Ecology publication that clarifies the disposal and recycling options for arsenic-, pentachlorophenol-, and creosote-treated wood.
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