The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its scientifically based determination approving creosote for continued use as a FIFRA wood preservative to pressure-treat railroad crossties, utility poles, marine and foundation piling, timber and other wood products. EPA’s Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) was announced in a Federal Register notice published on Nov. 19, 2008.

Members of the Creosote Council spent more than $12 million conducting state-of-the-art health and safety studies to support reregistration of creosote. EPA’s RED discusses these new studies, and also the substantial benefits of creosote in comparison to non-wood materials. As part of reregistration, creosote registrants will be amending their product labels requiring creosote treaters to adopt certain measures to further ensure the safety of workers who treat wood with creosote to meet the nation’s critical infrastructure needs.

A recent mortality study of workers found no evidence that employment at wood-treating plants or exposure to creosote-based preservatives was associated with any significant mortality increase from either site-specific cancers or nonmalignant diseases. Since those who work daily with creosote show no statistically significant evidence of adverse health effects, it is reasonable to assume that the risk to the general public is negligible. Federal law requires the EPA to periodically review all pesticides to ensure that they continue to meet current safety standards. Creosote was among 600 pesticidal active ingredients to undergo reregistration review. With the issuance of the RED, EPA will now move to finalize its approval. It is expected that new labels will be issued in the spring of 2009.