Creosote is a coal tar product commonly used as a preservative to prevent deterioration of exterior timber caused by insects, fungus, mould and bacteria.
Creosote is usually pressure impregnated to increase the penetration deep into the timber.
Creosote is known to burn when coming in contact with the skin. Workers handling or installing posts treated with Creosote, are at very significant risk that the chemical will come in contact with the skin on their hands, face and arms and possibly even splashing into their eyes as posts are driven into the ground. Creosote also tends to ooze out of treated timbers in hot weather often giving off toxic vapours.
Workers should be aware that exposure to creosote can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation and may, in the longer-term, cause organ damage or even cancer.
Creosote is harmful to plants if it comes into direct contact with them and exposure to the vapours emitted in hot weather may damage plant leaves. Creosote that seeps into the soil may damage roots, but plants will not absorb the substance into their root tissue. Keeping plants at least several inches away from treated timbers usually prevents damage from direct contact and vapours, and creosote will generally not migrate far enough through the soil to reach plants that are a short distance away.
In our opinion it is not a wise decision to plant an orchard using wooden posts saturated in toxic Creosote when considering the consequences to both human and plant health.
There are now much safer products available that deliver outstanding levels of timber preservation. We think that forward thinking growers should start to consider the alternatives. It can only be good for workers, your planting and the environment to move away from using this toxic product.
If you want to know more about alternatives to posts pressure treated with Creosote why not give us a call.