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Creosote approval with more stringent conditions proposed


ECHA’s Biocidal Products Committee (BPC) has adopted five opinions in its December meeting. The committee does not support the approval of diamine because of its health risks for workers when using products containing the substance.

Helsinki, 8 December 2020 – The BPC supports the approval of the active substances:

  • creosote for use as a wood preservative (product-type 8); and
  • ethylene oxide for use as disinfectants and algaecides not intended for direct application to humans or animals (product-type 2).

Creosote is a wood preservative first approved as a biocide in 2011. It is used to treat electricity poles, railway sleepers, agricultural and equestrian fencing and poles used in vineyards. As it has carcinogenic; persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT); and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) properties, it meets the exclusion criteria for biocidal active substances. According to the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) it should be phased out and could only be approved if one of the derogations to exclusion is met. In this regard, the BPC has concluded that currently there are no suitable alternatives available for creosote and that accordingly its approval should be renewed. In addition, the committee has now proposed more stringent conditions for authorising biocidal products that contain creosote as well as for placing treated wood on the market.

The committee also proposed to approve the existing active substance ethylene oxide, which is used to sterilise medical devices before they are placed on the market. Ethylene oxide meets the exclusion criteria due to its classification as carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction, therefore, similarly to creosote, it can only be approved if one of the derogations to exclusion is met. In this regard, the committee concluded that there are currently no suitable alternatives available for this active substance.

Moreover, the committee concluded that the existing active substance diamine should not be approved for use in wood preservatives, as it leads to unacceptable risks for workers treating wood with products containing the substance.

In its December meeting, the BPC also:

  • adopted an opinion addressing a request from the Commission on the availability and suitability of alternatives to boric acid and disodium tetraborate pentahydrate for product-type 8; and
  • recommended approving one application for Union authorisation for a biocidal product family containing CMIT/MIT as an active substance for six product-types.

The European Commission together with the EU Member States will take the final decision on active substances and the Union authorisation of biocidal products.

The committee met from 1 to 4 December 2020. The opinions will be available on ECHA’s website in the near future. The next meeting will be held in March 2021.