THE PROBLEM

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

Timeline of our success

2018

What's in your lunch? report is published

We tested common children food products sold in Canada for the presence of glyphosate, Canada’s top-selling weed killer and the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. The results were shocking. Canada needs to protect us from harmful chemicals like glyphosate.

2017

Full Disclosure report is published

Everyday, products that lack ingredient lists and warning labels expose Canadians to toxic chemicals. Our report, Full Disclosure, sheds light on consumer perceptions of current product labelling practices for cleaning and personal care products and proposes solutions to ensure people are enabled to make informed choices to protect them from toxic chemicals.

2017

Health Canada launches a special review of atrazine

Drinking water test results from Toronto and Montreal had higher levels of a hormone disrupting pesticide than what is European governments consider safe. Health Canada committed to conducting a special review investigating the risks associated with drinking and surface water contamination with the harmful herbicide

2017

Uncanny Toxics is published

Our new comic book, Uncanny Toxics: Vanquishing an Invisible Enemy creatively illustrates the urgency of daily toxic exposures and the opportunity we have to strengthen human health and environmental protections.

2017

Parliamentary committee recommends a stronger toxics law

After a 15-month long review, a federal parliamentary committee made 87 recommendations to strengthen Canada’s toxics law, including virtually all of the recommendations proposed by Environmental Defence and partner organizations.

2017

Launched our Rethink Dry Cleaning campaign

Dry cleaning uses a toxic chemical solvent called PERC to clean clothes. We launched our Rethink Dry Cleaning campaign and worked with Toronto-based fashion designers to promote wet cleaning as the toxic-free alternative to conventional dry cleaning.

2017

Taking the government to court

Launched our legal case against the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change for refusing to proceed with a request to investigate Volkswagen’s emissions fraud.

2017

Ottawa considers strengthening Canada’s main toxics law

Federal Minister Catherine McKenna agrees that Canada’s main toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, is outdated and commits to considering improvements to that Act by June 2018.

2016

Canada announces neonic pesticide ban

Health Canada decides to ban imidacloprid from major agricultural uses and launches a special review on thiamethoxam and clothianidin.

2016

Canada announces microbeads ban

After we mobilized ten thousands of Canadians, the federal government announced its plans to ban microbeads in personal care products by mid-2019. This step came after the harmful plastic bits were declared 'toxic' under federal law in June.

2015

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.

2015

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.

2015

Loblaw phases out phthalates 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).

2015

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.

2014

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.

2014

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.

2013

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.

2013

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.

2012

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.

2012

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.

2011

Phthalates 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.

2010

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.

2010

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.

2009

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.

2008

Canada bans BPA

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

2006

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.

2003

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.

Breaking News

Right to know: Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products

The trouble with fragrance ingredients Fragrance formulas used in personal care and cleaning products often consist of dozens of chemical ingredients to create a specific scent...

Learn More

What’s in your lunch? New testing finds glyphosate, a harmful pesticide, in common foods that children eat

Every day, Canadians are exposed to many chemicals that are linked to health conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes and behavioural problems like ADHD. Due...

Learn More

Good(ish) news! Our case against Alberta’s leaking tailings ponds will be investigated

  First the good news. The three NAFTA countries voted unanimously to allow an investigation to go forward on tar sands tailings ponds leaking toxins into...

Learn More

Enjoy the summer sun without damaging your health: A guide to choosing the right sunscreen

With the sun beating down in the summer, it’s common to lather your skin with sunscreen to prevent burning. But, are you getting burned by...

Learn More

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Big problems require big solutions, and all of us can help make the changes we want to see. By signing petitions and attending events, you can make your voice heard and help to affect change.

"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

MEET THE TEAM

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.

Muhannad Malas

Program Manager, Toxics

Sarah Jamal

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.

As a subscriber to Environmental Defence, you will receive our monthly Defender News – a roundup of our biggest news stories of the month. You can also receive quarterly updates from our team specific campaign areas tailored to your interests.

Please select the campaign-specific updates you’d like to receive.

*
*
*
*