Jere, Those poles look like they were soaked in Creosote. Creosote treated wood was banned after it was found that there could be a cancer risk. Long-term exposure, especially direct contact with skin during wood treatment or manufacture of coal tar creosote-treated products, to low levels of creosote has resulted in skin cancer and cancer of the scrotum. ... The EPA has also determined that coal tar creosote is a probable human carcinogen.