We have good news to share thanks to all of you who stood up against toxic chemicals in consumer products. Together we have been able to move the issue forward and stricter rules on the use of five toxic chemicals in consumer products in Canada could soon be a reality.

Earlier this month, the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) released proposed amendments to the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012. These regulations currently prohibit, with a number of exemptions, the manufacture, use, sale and import of 22 toxic substances, and products which contain them.

If passed, the proposed amendments would add five new chemicals to this list:


  • hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD);



  • perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA);



  • long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (LC-PFCAs);



  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); and,



  • perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)



This announcement is a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting human health and the environment from toxic chemicals. And several groups, including Environmental Defence, and many concerned people have been calling for these changes for years.

The past decade, Environmental Defence has educated the public about the impact toxic chemicals found in every day products have on human health. We have also worked with government and industry to get toxic chemicals banned, including those listed above, or restricted in products.

In 2011, we released Pre-Polluted: a report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns, which we tested the umbilical cord blood of three Canadian newborns for 310 pervasive toxic chemicals, including PBDEs, one of the chemicals on the CMP’s list. We found a total of PFOS and PBDEs were detected in the blood that we tested, indicating the babies are exposed to these chemicals before they are even born.

Some of the chemicals on the list are also known to be toxic to the environment. For example, HBCD, a brominated flame retardant, was declared toxic to the environment by Environment Canada in 2011, but it can still be found in some consumer products. This chemical is also a possible endocrine disruptor and affects the thyroid gland. If passed, the new regulations would prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of HBCD in Canada, by January 1, 2017.

It’s a similar story for PFOS, which is used in fabric stain repellents. A 2006 assessment by the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health found that PFOS “… may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity.” If passed, the new regulations would change the exemptions on the use of these chemicals in Canada.

You can help make these new regulations a reality. Right now, the federal government is accepting public comments (find more details under the title “Proposed Regulatory Text”) until June 18th.

Also, sign up for Environmental Defence’s Toxics Update e-newsletter, where we will keep you posted on major developments and further opportunities to support tougher rules on the use of these five toxic chemicals in Canada.