Time to push federal government to get rid of dangerous chemicals

Aug 17 2006

 Calling all Canadian Environmental and Public Health NGOs:  Time to push federal government to get rid of dangerous chemicals Industry lobbying is intense as the federal government’s September 13, 2006 deadline approaches, requiring it to announce the results and future strategy for action on substances identified through the categorization process.Canada has identified 4000 substances that may be considered toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Now that categorization is complete, Canada should act both on its policy to virtually eliminate persistent, bioaccumulative toxic substances, and on its commitment to pollution prevention and the precautionary principle. After years of preparation time, Health Canada and Environment Canada still have no coherent, comprehensive plans or timelines for banning, phasing out or even, simply regulating the worst substances. The public interest voice needs to be heard. The Canadian Environmental Law Association and Environmental Defence wrote to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Health Canada and Environment Canada on July 7, 2006 (e-mail deleonf@lao.on.ca to obtain both letters), making specific recommendations for dealing with the most dangerous substances. Please write to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment and the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, urging them to require action plans and timelines for elimination and reduction of the most hazardous substances identified through categorization.We urge you to join us in making the following demands for a clear, timely and comprehensive set of measures to continue the momentum generated by the categorization deadline. The recommendations are intended to ensure fast action on the most hazardous substances, and a sound strategy for the rest. Such action plans must include toxics use reduction plans, substitution with less harmful substances, and an overall transition to safer alternatives. The federal government needs to protect Canadians from exposure to toxic chemicals by committing to the following:

  1. Substances that are persistent (P), bioaccumulative (B) and inherently toxic (iT) (hence, PBiTs) should be considered CEPA-toxic and immediately placed on the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1 of CEPA) unless toxicity data submitted by industry demonstrate no harm to human health and the environment. These substances should be banned or virtually eliminated within one year of such listing.
  2. The highest priority substances identified by Environment Canada and Health Canada  should be assessed within 2 years and, for any substance found to be CEPA-toxic, a toxics use reduction plan should be in place within one more year. The plan should be implemented within two further years.
  3.  Substances that are carcinogenic and/or known to be capable of reproductive or neuro-developmental toxicity should be considered inherently toxic and targeted for elimination.
  4. Industry should be required to provide toxicity data in a timely manner for substances identified through categorization. Failure to provide data should result in a substance being targeted for phase-out or a ban.
  5. Clear thresholds and criteria for conducting assessments should be developed and publicly reviewed. Screening assessments should take no longer than 2 years and the timeline for completion of full assessments should be shortened from 5 years to 4 years.
  6. Substances that meet the criteria for categorization should be added to the list of pollutants reported under Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory.

We urge you to write to the Ministers of Health and Environment, and to provide copies to your local media. Honourable Rona Ambrose                         Honourable Tony ClementMinister of Environment                               Minister of HealthHouse of Commons                                     House of CommonsOttawa, Ontario                                          Ottawa, OntarioK1A 0A6                                                    K1A 0A6 Fax: (613) 996-0785                                    Fax: (613) 992-5092 EMail: Ambrose.R@parl.gc.ca                         EMail: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca For more information, contact: Fe de Leon, Researcher, CELA:Phone 416-960-2284, ext. 223E-mail : deleonf@lao.on.ca: