Creosote (CAS 8001-58-9; 8021-39-4; 8007-45-2) is the name used for a variety of products that are mixtures of many chemicals.

There are six major classes of compounds in creosote:

  • aromatic hydrocarbons, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and alkylated PAHs (that can constitute up to 90 per cent of creosote)
  • tar acids
  • phenolics
  • cresols
  • tar bases/nitrogen-containing heterocycles
  • aromatic amines
  • sulfur-containing heterocycles, and
  • oxygen-containing heterocycles

Examples of work activities involving creosote that require special attention when assessing exposure include:

  • workers who use creosote-treated wood in building fences, bridges or railroad tracks or installing telephone poles, or those who inspect or maintain these materials may be exposed to creosote
  • farmers or landscapers who apply coal tar creosote to wood
  • workers who apply asphalt or other coal tar pitch-containing materials, or
  • workers in the natural gas, rubber, aluminium, iron, steel or tyre industries.

This guide provides information for those registered medical practitioners engaged by a PCBU to carry out or supervise health monitoring for workers. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the following:

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