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Brussels, 13 January 2003

Dangerous preparations: Commission Directive bans arsenic in wood treatment for consumer applications

The European Commission has adopted a new Directive banning the use of arsenic in the treatment of wood in consumer applications. The Directive will bring significant benefits for the protection of the health of consumers. It will also improve environmental protection. The ban takes effect from 30 June 2004 at the latest.

European Commissioner for Enterprise, Erkki Liikanen said, "I am pleased to see the adoption of this directive which will bring significant benefits to the protection of the health of consumers as well as to the environment. "

Arsenic is currently used in the preservation of wood in order to increase its service life. A risk assessment commissioned by the European Commission into the use of arsenic in these situations identified a number of risks considered unacceptable.

Considering the risk assessment, the EU Scientific Committee for Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment concluded that the main risks had been correctly identified.

As a result, the Commission Directive - which follows extensive consultation through the Internet (over 150 responses received) - bans the use of arsenic in the treatment of wood for all consumer applications whilst providing a derogation for a specific wood preservative formulation containing arsenic. This formulation may only be used for certain specified industrial and professional uses where there are concerns over the structural integrity of the wood and where the risks can be properly managed, e.g. in bridges.

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