EU scientists reject Dutch wood import ban

Toxicology committee says risk from copper-based preservatives overstated; suggest improved impregnation

Dutch authorities have not supplied convincing scientific arguments to back up their plans for a national ban on imports of all wood treated with copper-based preservatives, the EU's scientific toxicology committee has declared. The verdict is a setback for the Netherlands in its attempt to persuade fellow EU member states to accept the restrictions (EED 11/07/01).

The Dutch proposals stem from a conviction that copper leaching from the wood into water bodies exceeds national environmental quality standards. But in an opinion released this week, the committee said predicted concentrations of copper were "over-conservative" and based on non-standard modelling techniques. Changes to the way wood is impregnated with preservative could minimise losses to the environment, it said. This option "ought to be explored further" to assuage Dutch concerns, it concluded.

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