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The Swedish Chemicals Agency logo
Wood preservatives

Wood preservatives and pressure treated wood may contain toxic substances such as creosote, arsenic, chromium and copper, and can harm both human health and the environment. Handle these in the right way to avoid damage to health and the environment.

If you need to use wood preservative, only buy such products that are approved by the Swedish Chemicals Agency. Approved products are always preceded by a four-digit registration number and are divided into three authorisation classes. Products with a Class 3 marking are for public use. The Pesticides Register is where you can check the registration number and see whether the product is approved and to which class it belongs, and to find other important information.

Note the danger symbols and read the information so that you can protect yourself and handle the product in a safe way.

Pressure-impregnated wood

Pressure-impregnated wood is treated with wood preservative which is to protect the wood against rot and insect damage. Impregnated wood is divided into four classes, depending on the use for which it is intended. The Nordic Wood Preservation Council website provides details on what these classes mean.

Anyone selling wood that has been treated with wood preservative has a duty to provide written information on:

  • the active components in the wood preservative
  • restrictions to use
  • how the wood has been treated appropriately
  • the health risks and protective measures
  • how the waste from the production of the wood is being taken care of.

Creosote-treated wood

Creosote-treated wood is black or brown and smells of tar. Creosote is produced from coal tar and contains more than 200 substances, several of which can give rise to allergies and cancer. When exposed to sunshine the wood may sweat, allowing the hazardous substances to leach.

There may still be creosote-treated wood in old playgrounds and private gardens. Wood of this kind, such as old railway sleepers and utility poles, may no longer be used in playgrounds. You may in your capacity as a private individual only use creosote-treated wood which has been treated before 2003. It may not be used either for containers for cultivation or in parks, gardens or facilities intended for outdoor pursuits where there is often the risk that it could come into contact with the skin.

Leftover creosote-treated wood is considered environmentally hazardous waste. Check with your municipal authority what you should do with such waste.

The Nordic Wood Preservation Council

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