EPA Requires Cancellation of Pentachlorophenol to Protect Human Health

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 4, 2022. Click here for more information.


Today, EPA issued a final registration review decision requiring the cancellation of pentachlorophenol, a wood preservative used primarily on utility poles. During the registration review process, EPA found that given the emergence of viable alternatives, the risks pentachlorophenol poses to workers’ health outweigh the benefits of its use.

Following EPA’s March 2021 proposal to cancel pentachlorophenol, for which the Agency held a 60-day comment period, this final decision concludes EPA’s registration review of pentachlorophenol and initiates the process of risk mitigation which in this case consists of cancellation. After two years, pentachlorophenol will no longer be manufactured, sold, or distributed in the United States.

EPA’s action aligns the United States with the United Nations’ Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Annex A listing of pentachlorophenol, which generally requires Parties to the Convention to eliminate its production, use, import, and export. Alternatives to pentachlorophenol include copper naphthenate and DCOIT, along with well-established wood preservatives such as chromated arsenicals and creosote.

The complete phase-out of pentachlorophenol will be conducted over five years and is intended to ensure stability within the utility pole industry by giving wood treaters time to switch to alternative wood preservatives. For the next two years, registrants may continue to produce, sell, and distribute wood preservatives containing pentachlorophenol while wood treatment facilities transition to alternatives. After February 2024, wood treatment facilities will be allowed to use their existing stocks of pentachlorophenol to produce treated wood for an additional three years.

Registrants are required to submit voluntary cancellation requests to the Agency within 60 days of the publication of the final registration review decision. The Agency will then begin the cancellation process by publishing a notice of receipt of these requests in the Federal Register and opening a 30-day public comment period.

To read EPA’s final decision, see docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0653 at regulations.gov.