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C 92 E/202 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.

2003

was agreed that a progress report on implementation would be submitted on a regular basis by the Greek
authorities to the Commission. The first such report was received in April 2002. This indicated that there
has been considerable progress in a number of areas and further efforts are needed to solve identified
outstanding issues. A further report, was received in September 2002 and is now being considered by the
Commission.

Under Community legislation, the responsibility for performing food inspection in Greece rests with the
Greek authorities. The role of the Commission is to monitor how the Greek authorities are meeting their
obligations under Community law and the FVO inspections are an important part of this monitoring
process. Since the beginning of 1999, the Food and Veterinary Office of the Directorate General for Health
and Consumer Protection has, to date, carried out 39 inspections in Greece. The large majority of these
inspections have been concerned with food safety issues. As set out in the preceding paragraphs, the
Commission and the Greek authorities are working closely together to ensure adequate follow-up to the
recommendations in FVO mission reports.

The FVO plans to carry out the following inspections in Greece before the end of 2002, mainly to address
outstanding issues and verify actions taken in respect of earlier missions in Greece:

 Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)  epidemio-surveillance, TSE testing, total feed ban,
specified risk material, follow up on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) mission of 2001 and
evaluation of TSE measures in small ruminants,

 Food production  table eggs/products,

 Food production  poultry meat/products/preparations,

 Pesticides  pesticides residues; plant protection products  marketing and use,

 Traceability of beef and beef products including a review of actions taken in respect of Rentis Market
and red meat sector,

 Disease eradication/control programmes  Bovine brucellosis eradication programme,

 Review of actions taken in respect of the ovine/caprine brucellosis eradication programme and
controls over milk production and processing.

(2003/C 92 E/263) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2722/02


by Peter Skinner (PSE) and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (PSE) to the Commission

(30 September 2002)

Subject: Council Directive 1999/38/EC and the need for further research into wood additives

The Council has passed Directive 1999/38/EC (1) in which all hardwoods were classified as carcinogenic
work materials. People engaged in the wood-treatment and wood-processing industries are still continually
exposed to wood dust, with damaging effects on their health. These have been documented in the
European list of occupational illnesses Nos 304.03 and 305.01, and elsewhere. Above all, however, it has
been shown in many epidemiological studies that certain tumours may be caused by specific types of
wood dust. However, the exact carcinogenic agent remains obscure.

In recent years, scientific attention has also been paid to chemical substances carried into wood throughout
its lifetime. Among other studies, the Heidelberg Cancer Research Centre found indications that employees
in the wood-processing industry were contaminated not only by wood dust, but also by chemical
substances (chromate) carried by wood, which subsequently penetrate the human organism via wood
dust (2). Moreover, the increased use of recycled wood infiltrates more chemical substances into the
woodworking industry.
17.4.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/203

The above-mentioned research shows a multifactorial hazard for workers exposed to wood. This is
alarming also because a high percentage of wood samples examined by the Heidelberg researchers was
declared as untreated but included chromates. The question then arises  at what stage during the growth,
logging and processing cycle of the timber could such an ingress have occurred? This might for example
have come about during forestry operations.

What knowledge does the Commission have about the ingress of unwanted chemicals into timber and
wood products over the course of its growth, logging and processing cycle?

Does the Commission share the opinion that prevention measures are necessary against exposure to wood
dust as well as against exposure to chemical substances which are added to wood?

Does the Commission share the opinion regarding effective protection of workers that further investigation
is necessary into the different hazards and substances to which workers in the woodworking industry are
exposed?

(1) OJ L 138, 1.6.1999, p. 66.


(2) R.G. Klein et al: Carcinogenicity essays of wood dust and wood additives in rats exposed to long-term inhalation.
Springer Verlag 2001  Germany.

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(31 October 2002)

The Commission is aware of the mixed exposure to wood dust and chemicals such as additives,
preservatives or adhesives contained in wood at the workplace. This issue was addressed in the recent
evaluation of wood dust by the Scientific Committee for Occupational Exposure Limits. The Committee
concluded that the available experimental data have numerous limitations and do not allow to reach a
scientific evaluation of the effects caused to humans from exposure to wood dust containing chemicals.

The application of the preventive measures specified in Council Directive 98/24/EC of 7 April 1998, on
the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work (1) and
in Council Directive 90/394/EC of 28 June 1990 on the protection of workers from the risks related to
exposure to carcinogens at work (2) as modified by Council Directives 97/42/EC of 27 June 1997 (3) and
1999/38/EC of 29 April 1999, provide effective protection of workers, according to the available scientific
evidence. However, this does not preclude further research to be undertaken or adaptation of the
provisions of the legislation if new scientific results so require.

In this respect, the Commission has announced in its Communication: ‘Adapting to change in work and
society: a new Community strategy on health and safety at work 2002-2006’ (4) its intention to propose
extending the scope of the directive on ‘carcinogenic agents’.

Furthermore, all chemical substances used for preservation of wood are covered by Directive 98/8/EC of
the Parliament and the Council of 16 February 1998, concerning the placing on the market of biocidal
products (5). The Directive establishes that only authorised biocidal products can be placed on the market,
which have no unacceptable effects on human health or the environment. All existing active substances
used in biocidal products will be subject to a very thorough evaluation regarding their effects on human
health and the environment within a 10 year work programme.

Wood preservatives are among the product types having highest priority for this evaluation. Full dossiers
are due by 28 March 2004. The assessments to be carried out will include assessments of the use of wood
preservatives including any relevant production and disposal issue either of the wood preservative itself or
any wood treated with it.

(1) OJ L 131, 5.5.1998.


(2) OJ L 196, 26.7.1990.
(3) OJ L 179, 8.7.1997.
(4) COM(2002) 118 final.
(5) OJ L 123, 24.4.1998.