WOOD PRESERVATIVES – Commission approves stricter national environment protection laws

The European Commission has adopted 5 decisions authorising the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Denmark to maintain their national laws on the marketing and use of wood preservatives creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP), even though these laws are more restrictive than required by the Directive on marketing of dangerous substances and preparations.

These decisions took some time to prepare, because neither the evidence submitted by the Member States nor the additional studies mandated by the Commission in each case to enable it to assess their justification were totally conclusive. The requisite scientific information was finally assembled only in the course of 1998. All the available studies and information were submitted to the Scientific Committee on Toxicology, Ecotoxicology, and the Environment for peer-review. The opinion of the Scientific Committee on the risk of cancer posed by the creosote and the possibility to use substitutes for the PCP, and the application of the precautionary principle, constitute important part of the justification in each case.

The Commission says it is already examining the appropriateness of amending Directive 94/60/EC, to raise the standard of protection across the Community to that set out in these decisions, in accordance with the Scientific Committee opinion. It has already amended Directive 91/173/EEC for the same purpose.

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