When brushing your teeth, sitting on your couch, or cleaning your kitchen counter, you could be unknowingly exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. Nasty chemicals continue to linger in products Canadians use daily, and many of these toxic chemicals have links to serious health issues like cancer, obesity, or asthma.

The Solution

To protect human health, we need to reduce Canadians’ exposure to toxic chemicals in products we use every day. That means industry action to take harmful ingredients out of consumer products, government action to ban and restrict toxic chemicals and informed consumers equipped with the knowledge to choose safe options when they shop.

Label it

Consumers don’t always know what’s in the products they buy. We’re working to make full ingredient disclosure on product labels a reality—including warnings if there are any chemicals linked to cancer present.

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Getting the toxics out

Canadians shouldn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals in products in the first place. That’s why we're working hard to get toxic chemicals like triclosan banned, phased-out or restricted by provincial and federal governments.

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Educate Yourself

Avoiding toxic chemicals in everyday products gets much easier once you know what to look for. To help, we provide downloadable guides and a list of our Just Beautiful Pledge companies; we also organize free community workshops with other organizations.

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Working To Ban Microbeads

Not only are they polluting the water, but they also adsorb and leach toxic chemicals which eventually end up in our food chain.

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Timeline of our success


said no to pressure treated wood in children's playgrounds

We spurred cities across Canada into action after releasing a report showing arsenic was polluting the sand of children’s playgrounds made with pressure treated wood.


Polluted Children, Toxic Nation Report  is published

We published the report Polluted Children, Toxic Nation—the first Canadian study to test for harmful chemicals like PCBs and flame retardants in children's bodies.


Canada bans BPA

Canada banned Bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles thanks to our work educating parents about this toxic chemical.


Slow Death by Rubber Duck  is published

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health, co-authored by our then Executive Director Dr. Rick Smith and Board President Bruce Lourie, made the bestseller list for 16 weeks in Canada.


Chemicals Management Plan and Consumer Products Safety Act are implemented

The federal government institutes the Chemicals Management Plan and Consumer Products Safety Act, responding to our outreach and public education to limit toxics chemicals.


Just Beautiful campaign launches

We launched our Just Beautiful campaign to educate Canadians about toxic chemicals in cosmetics and created the Just Beautiful Pledge to recognize manufacturers who make safer personal care products.


Pthalates restricted in Canadian toys

After years of raising awareness of the negative health impacts of phthalates, this hormone disruptor was banned or restricted for use in Canadian toys.


The trouble with triclosan  is published

Our report The Trouble with Triclosan raised the alarm about this hormone-disrupting, anti-bacterial chemical. The same year, Environment Canada declared triclosan toxic to the environment.


Restrictions for heavy metals in cosmetics announced

Only two years after launching our Just Beautiful campaign, new Canadian restrictions for heavy metals in cosmetics are announced.


Pre-polluted  report is released

We published our report Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns which contains first of its kind evidence demonstrating that babies are being burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born.


Toxin Toxout  is published

Toxin Toxout, the follow-up to Slow Death by Rubber Duck, by Rick Smith (special volunteer advisor to Environmental Defence) and Bruce Lourie (former Environmental Defence board member) is published and becomes a Canadian best-seller.


We ran chemical detectives workshops

To help Canadians learn more about how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals in their homes, we launched the Chemical Detective workshops. Since then, workshops have been conducted in communities from Halifax to Vancouver.


New restrictions on formaldehyde in cosmetics

As we continue to raise concerns about harmful ingredients in cosmetics, the federal government’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist includes new restrictions on formaldehyde in cosmetics.


Restrictions on neonics in Ontario

We helped raise awareness about the dangers of neonicotinoids (neonics)—a group of pesticides known to kill bees and other pollinators. In June, new restrictions on neonics in the province of Ontario were announced.


Loblaw phases out pthalates and triclosan

Because of efforts of concerned consumers and organizations like ours, Loblaw, one of Canada’s largest retailers, announced the phasing out of phthalates and triclosan from its store brand products (along with microbeads).


The dirty truth report   is published

With our first-of-its-kind study on household cleaning, The Dirty Truth, we showed that common cleaning products are adding to indoor air pollution through volatile organic compounds, a group of chemicals linked to serious health problems like asthma.


Removing the Stain  report is published

Our report, Removing the Stain, sheds light on how cancer-causing chemicals continue to pollute dry cleaning workers and nearby residents. It’s time to transition to non-toxic wet cleaning.


Microbeads declared 'toxic'

After we mobilized ten thousands of Canadians, the federal government declared microbeads 'toxic' in June. This is a crucial step en route to banning the harmful bits of plastic from good from personal care products like body wash and toothpaste in Canada.

Breaking News

Trick or Treat: Three Ways to have a Non-Toxic Halloween

Ghosts, vampires, witches, and zombies – it’s that time of year again when all things scary come out to give us a fright. However, there...

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Back to School Shopping: Stay Calm and Shop Toxic-Free

As the summer fun comes to an end, families and students across Canada rush to finish their back-to-school shopping. Toxic chemicals lurk in many school-related...

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Five Reasons to Vote for us as Toronto's Best Enviro Group

Toronto has a lot to offer – amazing food, music, art and some fantastic environmental groups. Toronto-based NOW Magazine is inviting readers to vote on...

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Good news! Toronto dry cleaners could soon be required to publicly disclose which chemicals they use

Toronto’s Board of Health decided that consumers have the right to know what chemicals are used in dry cleaning their clothes.[caption id="attachment_9029" align="alignright" width="300"] Toronto...

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"After 10 years as a beauty industry professional, I became ill. Since, I have made it my mission to offer safer products, techniques and promote a healthier attitude to beauty. And that is why I support the work of Environmental Defence."

--Brian Phillips, Owner of worldSALON


At Environmental Defence, we educate the public about a host of environmental issues, work with business and government leaders to advise on policy decisions and mobilize Canadians to create the cleaner, greener more prosperous country we’re striving for. Meet the team who works on Toxics.

Maggie MacDonald

Program Manager, Toxics

Muhannad Malas

Program Coordinator, Toxics

Join The Community

Sign up for our Kicking out Toxic Chemicals e-newsletter to find out how you can get involved and get toxic chemicals out of consumer products. We will send you a quarterly update on our campaigns, invitations to join us at events and opportunities for you to take action.

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