EC changes view on creosote cancer risk

The European Commission has admitted that there is a cancer risk from creosote that is has to-date classed as non-carcinogenic.


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Under current legislation coal tar-derived mixtures including creosote are not classified as carcinogens if the benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) content is lower than 50 ppm. Accordingly no restrictions in sale or use exist for Creosote containing less than 50 ppm BaP. Creosote containing 50 – 500 ppm may not be sold to consumers and can be used in industrial installations. Wood treated with such Creosote can only be used for professional and industrial applications. Use of such Creosote is prohibited inside buildings, in contact with plants or food and on playgrounds.

Following objections by four member states (Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden) and a scientific study by the Fraunhofer Institute, DG24’s Scientific Committee of Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment has concluded that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the opinion that there is a cancer risk to consumers from Creosote containing less than 50 ppm BaP and/or from wood treated with such Creosote.

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