Flame Retardants; Environmental Assessment; "Smart" Regulation

CELA Bulletin 49: 29-September-2004 Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association In this issue:

  1. BC women contaminated with toxic flame retardants - CELA calls for ban on PBDEs in light of breastmilk study
  2. Environmental Assessment Advisory Panel Invites Public Comments
  3. "Smart Regulation" report undermines public interest laws

1. BC women contaminated with flame retardants - CELA Calls for Federal Ban on PBDEs A new study of breastmilk among women in the Pacific northwest found PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in all samples. The findings are consistent with other reports that have measured these chemicals in the breastmilk of North American women at levels 20 to 40 times higher than in European or Japanese women. PBDEs are widely used in consumer products such as furniture foams, textiles, computer, TV and handtool casings. The European Union has banned these substances due to their environmental persistence and concerns about the potential for multiple health effects. Fetal exposure in the womb is of greatest concern. The study confirms the need to immediately phase-out these chemicals but should in no way deter women from continuing to choose breastfeeding as the best start for their babies. For more information:Paul Muldoon, CELA Counsel and Executive Director 416-960-2284 ext. 219Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 416-960-2284 ext. 221On-line:Sept 29/04 Media Release - BC women contaminated with toxic flame retardantsFull reportComplete list of contacts for the mediaMore information available in Northwest Environment Watch On-line Press Room 2. Environmental Assessment Advisory Panel Invites Public Comments CELA Counsel Rick Lindgren is a member of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Advisory Panel, which was established by Ontario's Environment Minister in order to identify opportunities to improve and strengthen Ontario's EA program, particularly in relation to the waste, clean energy, and transportation/transit sectors.The EA Advisory Panel has commenced its review of the EA program, and has invited public submissions on this matter (see Environmental Bill of Rights notice, linked below). It is anticipated that the Panel's report will be filed with the Minister by the end of 2004.For more information:Rick Lindgren, CELA Counsel 613-385-1686 On-line:EBR Notice: Improvements to Ontario's Environmental Assessment Process3. "Smart Regulation" report undermines public interest lawsCELA has expressed serious concerns about the public interest law implications of a recent report prepared by the External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation (EACSR), a committee established by the federal government. So-called "smart regulation" appears to be a new label, sounding vaguely positive, for further deterioration of public interest law, not unlike the serious setbacks in public interest protections that we saw in the 1990s that brought us the Walkerton tragedy, among other regulatory failures. The EACSR's final report fails to give the necessary emphasis to protecting public goods, and instead proposes to further entrench barriers to passing regulations or enforcing them. For more information:Hugh Benevides, CELA Research Associate 416-944-9178Paul Muldoon, CELA Counsel and Executive Director 416-960-2284 ext. 219On-line:Sept 28/04 Media Release: Report Undermines Protection of Public Health, Safety and Environment, Group Says