Wood preservation facilities, creosote: chapter D-4

4. Human Health Concerns

A safety objective for the industrial use of any chemical, including creosote, is to minimize worker exposure. If safeguards are not provided or not implemented, a variety of human health effects can occur, depending on the duration and manner of exposure, concentration of the chemical to which exposure has occurred, and the varying metabolic sensitivities of individual workers. On the basis of information from existing literature, Table 4 outlines the spectrum of human health effects that could result from various degrees of exposure to creosote.

The PMRA’s re-evaluation decision for the registration of the heavy duty wood preservatives creosote, pentachlorophenol, chromated copper arsenate and ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate, has granted continued registration of these products for sale and use in Canada. Potential risks from inhalation and dermal exposure were identified for some occupational tasks within wood-treatment facilities. The addition of new risk-reduction measures and the development of a Risk Management Plan for heavy duty wood preservatives will continue to lower the potential for occupational exposure for treatment facility workers (8).

Table 4 outlines the possible human health effects that may result from exposure to creosote solutions and its components. Extensive reviews of the potential health effects of individual elements are provided in documents from Health Canada Publications (8), the World Health Organization (13), the International Labor Organization (18), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (6), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (15), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (19), the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists (20) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (21).

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