Use and disposal of impregnated wood

The use of impregnated wood is restricted due to environmental and human health protection. Hardware stores must provide customers with instructions on the use of impregnated wood, including information on its applications and waste disposal methods.

Restrictions on the use of impregnated wood

  • Impregnated wood classified with use categories 3 or 4 (corresponding to NTR AB or NTR A) is intended for outdoor use. Indoor use is prohibited.
  • Treated timber must not be in contact with food products or drinking water.
  • Treated timber may not be used in the shelf structures of underground cellars or in well covers.

Remember the following when handling treated wood:

  • Use safety gloves and respirator when working on treated wood.
  • Avoid grinding or shaving the wood.
  • Collect the sawdust and other wood waste, and take it to a waste treatment site for separate collection.
  • Do not burn impregnated wood in a fireplace, sauna or barbeque as toxic compounds can be created during burning.

Timber is nowadays arsenic- and creosote-free

Previously, timber was preserved with wood preservatives containing chromium, arsenic and copper (CCA), as well as creosote. Impregnated timber sold nowadays is chromium- and arsenic-free. Arsenic was used for preserving timber until early 2000.

All impregnated wood waste must be brought to separate collection

Remember the following when taking down old structures made of impregnated wood:

  • Arsenic-treated timber waste is hazardous waste.
  • Private consumers can bring small quantities of waste wood to a waste collection site at hardware stores. The waste collection sites are emptied by the recycling company Demolite Oy, which was voluntarily founded by the industry.
  • Larger quantities and waste from industry or companies must be brought to a waste treatment site for separate collection.
  • Burning treated wood in household fires is prohibited.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can railway sleepers and telegraph poles be used in landscaping?

    Use of creosote-impregnated railway sleepers in gardens or recreational areas has been banned since 1996, and it is prohibited to supply them to consumers. The supply of CCA-impregnated poles containing arsenic to consumers has been banned since June 2004.

    The use of old, impregnated railway sleepers and poles is prohibited in residential areas, household structures, garden furniture or in any other area where skin exposure would be possible.

    Previously, reclaimed railway sleepers and power and telegraph poles were sold freely and were frequently used in landscaping, embankments, fences, staircases and sandboxes.

    Generally, old creosote pole structures built before 1996 or power or telegraph pole structures built before 2004 can be left as they are in gardens if they do not pose a risk to residents or the environment.

    However, authorities recommend removing

    • structures close to vegetable gardens or wells, as they release carcinogenic active substances to the ground, and thus, to food plants, well water and the sand in sandboxes.
    • items where bare skin exposure is possible.

    If you remove such structures from the yard, wear personal protective equipment and take the removed timber to a waste treatment site for separate collection of impregnated wood.