Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Chemicals and pesticides


Creosote is one of the oldest forms of timber preservative and is derived from coal or wood.

creosote treated power pole

A creosote treated power pole

Creosote contains more than 300 chemicals and is characterised by its dark, tar-coloured appearance and distinctive smell. Pigment emulsified creosote (PEC) is a modern derivative, with the addition of water and pigments to stabilise the creosote and make it less pungent.

The pigments also lock elements of the creosote into the timber, reduce leaching and odour.

Hazard level: H6

See the Hazard levels and chemical treatment typeschart for more information.


Severe to very severe decay, borers and termites, marine wood borers and decay

Typical use


Creosote is only used for commercial outdoor applications in Australia such as power poles, vineyard poles and farm fencing.

In New South Wales it is mainly used in conjunction with CCA to treat marine piles.

In Australia it is not available for domestic use.


Outside, in-ground, contact with or in fresh or marine waters


Avoid skin contact with creosote either in its liquid form or as sawdust because when exposed to sunlight it can cause a sunburn-like skin irritation.

More about safe handling.

Page last updated: 12 May 2016