Europe Bans Creosote by 2003

BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - The marketing and use of creosote and all products treated with it are to be banned throughout the European Union, the bloc's executive branch, the European Commission, has revealed. Industrial applications of the wood preservative will also be reduced.

Proposing the new law, known as a directive, the Commission said its decision to impose the ban is firm. Under the terms of the 1976 "marketing and use" directive, which the Commission has invoked to introduce the ban, the decision is final and there will be no further debate by governments or the European Parliament.


Wooden utility poles are permeated with creosote to preserve them from decay. (Photo courtesy CP Telco)
The Commission said its move to legislate was based on findings that the active ingredient in creosote, benzo-a-pyrene (BaP), was more liable to cause cancer in users of the substance than previously thought.

The European coal tar association, which represents manufacturers, has yet to respond.

The 15 European Union member nations have until the end of June 2003 to implement the ban.

Friday's announcement follows a high level EU scientific committee opinion published over two and a half years ago, concluding that BaP was carcinogenic at concentrations below 50 parts per million (ppm), the maximum level currently permitted by EU law.

This prompted the Commission to support four member states' applications to restrict creosote use, suspending normal EU internal market rules guaranteeing producers' access to markets. The Netherlands, has been waiting for similar permission.

Formulated by the Commission's industry directorate, the directive also slashes the maximum allowable concentration of BaP in non-consumer industrial applications such as treating telegraph poles and railway sleepers from the current level of 500ppm to 50ppm.


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