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Brussels, 16 February 2004

Commission proposes to restrict carcinogenic oils in the production of tyres

The Commission has adopted a proposal which restricts the marketing and use of certain carcinogenic extender oils for the production of tyres. This proposal is designed to improve the protection of the public by setting safe limits for the use of these substances(1). The measures should also help to ensure that a single market for tyres is maintained. Extender oils are used in the manufacture of tyres as softeners and can contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can damage human health. The Commission proposes a maximum limit of 10 ppm for PAHs in extender oils used in the manufacture of tyres.

The Commission's proposal is in line with the opinion of its Scientific Committee and the UN Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Both the oil industry and the tyre industry have agreed to phase out the production and use of PAH-rich extender oils over a transition period of several years.

Commenting on the proposed restriction, Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said: "The Commission's objective in making this proposal is to improve public health protection. At the same time, we are giving European oil and tyre industries the opportunity to test alternative extender oils by allowing the affected extender oils to be phased out during a transitional period up to 31 December 2008."

The proposal sustains the competitiveness of the European oil and tyre industry. Europe's industry is leading in research and development work on new extender oils and in engineering of new oil technologies. Most producers have already started to work with the new extender oils. Certain tyres have already been developed without resorting to the use of PAH-rich extender oils. The Commission will now work on the adoption of suitable test methods that allow the proper identification of tyres that do not conform with the requirements of this Directive.

For further information please log on to:

(1) Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in extender oils and tyres (twenty-seventh amendment of Council Directive 76/769/EEC), Document COM(2004)98

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