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Current Trends Follow-Up on Pentachlorophenol in Log Homes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a position document proposing regulations to reduce the human health risks resulting from use of creosote, inorganic arsenic compounds, and pentachlorophenol (PCP or penta) for wood preservation (1,2). Evidence cited in support of the proposed regulations included that from studies that showed elevated serum and urine PCP levels among residents of log homes that were treated with 5% PCP in organic solvents (3).

For home and farm use of PCP (and creosote), EPA proposes prohibiting indoor application and application to wood that is intended for interior use or for uses that might result in contamination of animals, food, feed, or water. For log houses and buildings, this can be interpreted as a proposed ban on treating logs with PCP before construction (1).*

Not all log-home manufacturers pretreat logs with wood preservatives at the factory. Also, many manufacturers have changed from PCP to other wood preservatives (such as copper-8-quinolinolate). To reduce PCP exposure among residents of PCP-treated log homes, CDC has suggested that interior log walls be treated with a sealer such as polyurethane (3). Such organic-base sealers have an efficacy of 90%-95% in reducing PCP vaporization under laboratory conditions (4). A water-base solution (Permatox Pentite)** intended to reduce PCP vaporization from logs has been developed recently and is being marketed at this time. CDC is currently compiling information on the efficacy of these products to reduce PCP exposure among log-home residents. Reported by P Cammer, Special Pesticide Review Division, Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency; Chronic Diseases Div, Clinical Laboratory Div, Center for Environmental Health, CDC.


  1. Environmental Protection Agency. Wood preservatives pesticides. Creosote, inorganic and the pentachlorophenol arsenicals (wood uses). Position Document 2/3. Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. January 1981.

  2. Creosote, pentachlorophenol and the inorganic arsenicals: Preliminary notice of determination concluding the rebuttable presumption against registration of the wood preservative uses of pesticide products; Notice of Availability of Position Document 2/3. Federal Register 1981;13,020-36.

  3. CDC. Pentachlorophenol in log homes--Kentucky. MMWR 1980;29:431-2, 437.

  4. Ingram LL, McGinnis GD, Deist WC. Effect of selected finishes on the vaporization of pentachlorophenol from treated wood. Mississippi State University, Mississippi: Forest Products Utilization Laboratory (Information Series no. 21), 23 July 1980. **Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Public Health Service or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. *Further information on these wood preservatives and copies of the Position Document can be obtained from the Office of Pesticide Programs, EPA. Address inquiries to Ms. Joan Warshawsky, Section Head, Special Pesticide Review Division, Office of Pesticide Programs, EPA (TS-791), Room 711 B, Crystal Mall II, 1921 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia 22209 (203-557-7460).

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