Ottawa – The toxic pollution reduction plan announced today by the federal government is a significant step forward for pollution control in Canada, Environmental Defence and Pollution Probe said.
“The government deserves credit for taking decisive action on this critical issue,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. “Many of the toxic chemicals subject to this announcement are potent carcinogens and are extremely harmful to the development of children. Today marks the launch of a process – which we will be following closely – to protect Canadian families from the harmful effects of these pollutants.”
Important elements of the announcement include:
addition of the first chemical to the virtual elimination list under Canada’s national pollution law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999;
further action on the regulation of flame retardants (PBDEs) and stain repellent chemicals (PFCs);
mandatory timeline of three years to begin the regulatory process for the highest priority toxic chemicals – those chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and inherently toxic;
recognition that toxins in consumer products are a major source of pollution in Canadians and a commitment that the government will be redoubling its efforts to deal with this challenge;
commitment to virtually eliminate the most harmful of the high priority chemicals;
substantial new financial resources for Environment and Health Canada to complete their work in this area; and,
a national bio-monitoring program to monitor toxic chemicals in Canadians’ blood, similar to the program being carried out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent nationwide blood tests conducted by Environmental Defence, many of the toxic chemicals affected by today’s announcement, including flame retardants and stain repellents, were found polluting the bodies of children and adults. In several cases, children had higher levels of the chemicals than their parents. The same chemicals were found polluting the bodies of adult Canadians in a nationwide study released by Environmental Defence last November. The detailed test results from both studies are available online at www.ToxicNation.ca.
“The federal government announcement today is a welcome contribution to the challenge of reducing the burden of toxic pollutants on humans and the environment,” said Ken Ogilvie, Executive Director, Pollution Probe.
Today’s announcement comes as two parliamentary committees are reviewing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canada’s overarching pollution law. Environmental organizations are encouraging the government and opposition parties to support improvements to the law to facilitate action being taken not only on the substances in today’s announcement, but systematically, as we learn more about other potentially harmful chemicals.
About Environmental Defence Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide. www.environmentaldefence.ca
About Pollution Probe Pollution Probe is a leading not-for-profit environmental organization actively engaged in initiatives to address toxic substances, air quality and climate change, including conducting research, engaging partners, implementing projects, holding events and contributing to the development of new environmental policies. www.pollutionprobe.org
For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Rick Smith, Environmental Defence, (416) 670-9521 (cell)
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext.232 ; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Ken Ogilvie, Pollution Probe, (416) 926-1907 ext.231