Daily News Archive
From November 5, 2001

European Union Bans Creosote

According to the Environment News Service (ENS), the use and marketing of a common wood preservative called creosote will be banned in Europe by 2003. The European Commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union, has also called for a reduction in industrial applications of creosote.

Wooden utility poles are treated with creosote to prevent decay. Creosote is a complex mixture of many chemicals, including benzo-a-pyrene (BaP). BaP is the active ingredient and was found by the Commission to be more likely to cause cancer than previously thought.

A study published by the EU scientific committee over two years ago concluded that BaP caused cancer at concentrations below 50 parts per million (ppm). This is the current maximum level permitted by EU law. The new law, known as a directive, also reduces the maximum allowable concentrations of BaP in industrial applications like telegraph poles and railway sleepers from 500 ppm to 50 ppm.

The decision to implement this directive is final and there will be no more debates by governments or the European Parliament. All fifteen member nations of the European Union must implement the ban by the end of June 2003.
The European coal tar association has not yet responded.

To learn more about creosote and other wood preservatives from Beyond Pesticide's website, select the "Program" pull-down menu, then click on "Wood Preservatives." You can see the full ENS article at www.ens/lycos.com.

Arsenic Limits Tightened by EPA

Last week the Bush administration said it would reinstate a Clinton administration's plan to restrict the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water. Arsenic is a chemical linked to higher rates of bladder and lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and birth defects.

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was criticized for suspending a regulation written by the Clinton administration to slash the amount of arsenic in tap water. The new limits cut the amount of arsenic from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb.

EPA's administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, made this announcement late last Wednesday. "I said in April that we would obtain the necessary scientific and cost review to ensure a standard that fully protects the health of Americans, we did that, and we are reassured by all of the data that significant reductions are necessary," Whitman said.
Arsenic occurs in our water supplies from industrial run-off and naturally from minerals dissolving over time from rocks and soil. The West and some parts of the Midwest have the highest concentrations of arsenic.

These new standards to 10 ppb must be met by 2006. Some environmental groups lobbied for a tighter standard of three ppb. The Bush administration wants another study of the health risks before implementing a rule that would be costly to businesses and small communities.

The full story can be seen at the following web address: http://news.lycos.com/news/story.asp?section=Health&storyId=273951&topic=EPA.