For immediate release: August 24, 2017

Canada’s latest human biomonitoring report shows urgent need for action to protect Canadians from toxic chemicals

The report is the latest evidence that stronger federal laws are needed to reduce Canadians’ exposure to toxics

Toronto, Ont. –The latest Health Canada Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals, as part of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), shows that there’s an urgent need for stronger laws to protect Canadians from toxic chemicals.

The report, released today, found that the majority of Canadians continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals, like BPA and parabens. Many of these chemicals are commonly found in everyday products like shampoo, lotions, and food packaging. Of note, the data show that nine out of ten Canadians are still exposed to BPA, which can be found in receipts and food and beverage cans.

“It is very troubling to see that most Canadians are still exposed to BPA,” said Muhannad Malas, Toxics Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “This hormone-disrupting chemical was declared toxic and was banned from baby bottles in Canada seven years ago to protect infants. However, we’re now seeing that exposures in some young children may have slightly increased. It’s clear that our current regulations are not working.”

The report results also detected some types of parabens, which are used as preservatives in personal care products and suspected to disrupt the hormone system, in the vast majority of Canadians. Recent landmark studies have linked parabens to a decline in male fertility.

The latest CHMS results demonstrate the need for stronger federal laws to better protect Canadians’ health. Last June, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development completed its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Canada’s main toxics law. The review included 87 recommendations on how to strengthen CEPA, which have been applauded by scientists and health and environmental groups. The Ministers of Health and Environment and Climate Change will decide this October whether or not to make amendments to CEPA.

“Right now, the federal government has a golden opportunity to fix Canada’s outdated toxics law, CEPA, and to offer Canadians stronger protections from toxics in line with current scientific knowledge and European and American laws,” said Malas. “We cannot let it pass us by.”

There was a bit of good news from the report. Some of the results indicate that eliminating the use of toxics through bans or phase outs makes a difference. The report found that body levels of triclosan, an antibacterial agent added to soaps and toothpastes, appear to be declining. This points to a number of voluntary phase outs of the chemical from products over the last few years due to consumer demands. However, a comprehensive ban is needed to truly protect Canadians and the environment.

To learn more about the need for CEPA reform, visit https://environmentaldefence.ca/coalition-action-toxics.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or interview requests, please contact:
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence, jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca; 416-323-9521 x228; 905-330-0172 (cell)