Phil Twyford’s remarks about the dangers to health presented by the requirement to use H1.2 treated timber as announced by Maurice Williamson on 14 March are way off beam says Kevin Hing of the New Zealand Timber Preservation Council.

His comments will cause unnecessary stress to consumers and homeowners.

Mr Twyford has questioned whether the government has thought about the danger to health caused by requiring timber used as framing in house construction to be H1.2 treated. He cites the EU classification of boron as a Substance of Very High Concern.

The EU classifications for boric compounds are based on exposures of animals to boron at levels that exceed any likely human exposure in treated timber by several orders of magnitude. As well, the exposure routes used including ingestion, are not routes that would be associated with normal human use of boric treated timber. The data by which the EU arrived at its classifications are based on concentrations that would never be experienced in the handling of boric treated timber here.

Boron based timber preservatives have been successfully used in New Zealand since the 1950s as a protection against attack by borers and because of its fungicidal properties. The treatment requirement for timber framing is nothing new to house construction in this country. Furthermore, to the best our knowledge, there have been no documented cases of any health issues associated with the use of boric treated timber in New Zealand.

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