Poison Poles: A Report About Their Toxic Trail and Safer Alternatives Chemical wood preservatives account for the single largest pesticide use in the United States and perhaps the greatest pesticide threat to public health and the environment. The hazards associated with these chemicals and the use, storage and disposal of the preservative-treated products are unnecessary, given that alternative materials to treated wood are available for many uses. Wood preservatives--used to extend the life of wood products that are subject to fungus, insects and decay-- and their contaminants are found in hundreds of hazardous waste sites across the country. They are subject to expensive cleanup efforts by government and the very industries that continue to introduce them into the environment at a rate of nearly one billion pounds a year. This report focuses on wood preservative-treated utility poles --a problem that could be reduced significantly and eventually eliminated through the adoption of alternative pole materials and approaches. It is estimated that there are between 80 and 135 million wood utility poles in the U.S., with at least three percent, or three million of these, replaced every year.