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Building Contaminants | Picture Data Base

Wood Preservatives (PCP, Lindan, DDT)

Roof Truss

Wood Preservatives

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) was once an major ingredient of many brands of wood preservatives in Germany and was responsible for the contamination of timber used in construction. It was frequently blended with the insecticide Lindan in a ratio of approx. 10:1. In the former German Democratic Republic DDT was also a frequently major component.

Wood Preservatives

Roof truss of a multifamily house built during the early 1900's. The white crystalline coating of the timber is reportedly due to treatment with a fire resistant agent.

Wood Preservatives

Close-up of previous photo.

Wood Preservatives

A sign within an attic indicating the treatment with wood preservatives. It states where and how much of a certain wood preservative has been applied. In this case Hylotox and Dohnalit has been used. In the Old Federal States PCP and Lindane were the main ingredients whereas in the New Federal States DDT was the main insecticide component. In the former German Democratic Republic the use of DDT in wood preservatives was permitted until the reunion of Germany in 1989. In the Old Federal States DDT has been banned since 1972. Owing to the long half-life of DDT it is able to out gas from treated timber over several tens of years. Particularly when an attic is to be converted for residential purposes the former application of wood preservatives needs to be investigated. When a building is demolished the timber needs to be disposed of in accordance with the German Used Timber Ordinance (AltholzV).

Tenant Storage Compartments

Wood Preservatives

Wooden tenant storage compartments treated with wood preservatives.

Tenant storage compartments


Flight of stairs possibly treated with wood preservatives.

The German "Used Timber Ordinance"  (AltholzV) divides waste timber generated at demolished buildings into four different classes. Structural load bearing timber and half-timbering and rafters are allocated for example to the category A IV and are accepted  as such by the waste disposal. During demolition the different types of wood have to be segregated and classified according to their category. Interior wooden panels such as ceiling panels, wood wool panels and chip board are therefore not to be mixed with structural timber.

Treated wooden stairs.


Exterior cladding possibly treated with wood preservatives.

Wooden suspended ceiling possibly treated with wood preservatives.