Creosote is the name used for a variety of products including wood creosote and coal tar creosote. Wood creosote is created by high temperature treatment of beech and other woods, or from the resin of the Creosote bush.

The term creosote, however, is most commonly used to refer to coal tar creosote. Coal tar creosote is an EPA-registered wood preservative. It is distilled from crude coke oven tar, and is mainly composed of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), but also contains phenols and cresols.

The term is also used to refer to the buildup of carbon materials in chimneys from wood-burning fires.

Wood preservatives (creosote and pentachlorophenol) were discharged into two unlined pits near Pensacola, Florida, for more than 80 years. The contaminants seeped into an underlying sand and gravel aquifer and created an underground waste plume 1,000 feet long. This study is focused on the occurrence, transport, and degradation of organic contaminants associated with the wood preservatives. The study demonstrated the ability of naturally occurring microorganisms to degrade many of the organic contaminants to less toxic compounds.

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