Creosotes and related complex chemical mixtures containing phenols and cresols are used in agriculture for the protection of timber and timber structures against attack from insect pests and from fungal decay. Creosote was also previously used in Australia as a veterinary treatment of lameness in horses. Creosote is the term used to refer to a range of chemical mixtures obtained by the high temperature processing of wood or coal. There are essentially two types of creosote, one derived from distillation of coal tar (coal tar creosote) and the other from wood tar (wood creosote).

Creosote Review

Status: Review not required

In October 2004 the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee (NDPSC) reviewed the safety of creosotes and their scheduling. The result of that review was that creosote derived from coal and beechwood was rescheduled and placed in Schedule 7 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons (SUSDP), based on concerns about carcinogenicity. See further information on the NDPSC decision from the NDPSC record of reasons, 38th meeting (external site) and the NDPSC record of reasons 42nd meeting (external site).

As a result of the rescheduling, creosote products used for the treatment of timber can no longer be supplied for use around the home. Products are restricted for use in agricultural, industrial and commercial situations. The APVMA reassessed the labeling of all the creosote products that were registered in 2004. Many of the products were voluntarily withdrawn from the market following the re-scheduling decision.

Creosote product labels have been updated to contain all the required statements and safety information. The statement DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT IN THE HOME GARDEN is required on creosote product labels..

The human health concerns have therefore been addressed by the re-scheduling decision, the restriction on where the product can be used, and the label update.


For more information contact:

Chemical Review

Phone: +61 2 6210 4749

Fax: +61 2 6210 4776


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