Creosote refers to three different products used in construction and manufacturing. Coal tar, coal tar creosote and beechwood creosote all contain chemicals that are hazardous to the human body when inhaled, touched or ingested.
The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program indicates that asphalt workers, railroad workers and coal workers are at risk for creosote exposure. Creosote enters the environment when wood that has been chemically treated with creosote is burned. The chemicals evaporate and pollute the air. Creosote enters a person's body when he breathes the fumes.
Breathing creosote fumes or smoke can cause asthma and breathing difficulties. Breathing the vapors may also cause stomach pain, burning in the throat and throat pain. Long term exposure to creosote can lead to kidney damage, brain and liver damage, and several different kinds of cancer.
The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program suggests avoiding exposure to creosote smoke. Do not use wood that has been treated with creosote in wood stoves or fireplaces, and avoid using creosote products in the home.