Media Release

Ministers refuse to impose restrictions on substance widely used in personal care products and persistent in the environment

Findings of federal scientists rejected in favour of board of review conclusions

Mar 27 2012

Toronto – Late last month, federal environment and health ministers rejected findings made by government scientists and proposals by predecessor ministers to list Siloxane D5, a substance widely used in personal care products in Canada,[1] as toxic under federal law. The February 2012 decision of the Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, and the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, follows an October 2011 report made by a 3-member panel of toxicologists constituted as a board of review under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 that concluded that D5 does not pose a danger to the environment or ecological diversity.

The decision of the Ministers stated in part that: “Based on available scientific data, D5 is considered persistent in air, water, and sediment but not in soils. While there is evidence of significant accumulation of D5 into organisms from environmental matrices and food, there appears to be an absence of effects in organisms in long-term toxicity tests at environmentally relevant concentrations.

…. [D]ata on the toxicity of D5 to sediment invertebrates and to terrestrial invertebrates and plants…show that D5 has the capacity to elicit adverse effects in terrestrial and sediment organisms, albeit at relatively high concentrations…

… [W]hile new data have increased the confidence that D5 has the potential to accumulate in organisms, this behaviour does not appear to cause ecological harm at environmentally relevant concentrations.”[2]

“We are extremely disappointed in this outcome,” stated Joseph F. Castrilli, a lawyer at the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) who represented a coalition of health and environment groups in their intervention before the board. “The board agreed with federal scientists that D5 is persistent in the environment, but disagreed that it bioaccumulates, or causes toxic or adverse effects. The Ministers’ own decision (excerpts quoted above) shows that they not only agree that D5 is environmentally persistent, but also appear to believe that it bioaccumulates, and has the capacity to cause adverse effects. Yet they still chose not to act”.

“The Ministers’ support of the Board’s findings on D5 raises doubt about their faith in the ability of Environment Canada scientists to determine toxicity under federal law and may encourage industry to seek more boards of review whenever government scientists recommend restrictions of chemicals”, said Sandra Madray of Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba.

“While the decision of the Ministers was released without much public attention, the decision demonstrates that application of the precautionary principle by the government is not having the intended effect in controlling the use of chemicals in Canada”, stated Mary Richardson of the Crooked Creek Conservancy Society of Athabasca.

“Our federal environmental laws are founded on key concepts such as precaution and prevention. This decision does very little to uphold these important principles. Canada’s approach to assessing and managing chemicals remains very reactive and not at all precautionary,” stated Anna Tilman, Vice President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health.

[1] Use of Siloxane D5 in personal care products in Canada in 2010 was estimated to be 3.3 million kilograms. Report of the Siloxane D5 Board of Review, page 33.
[2] Government of Canada. Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 156, No. 8 (Feburary 25, 2012).

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Background Information:
Media Release, February 8, 2012
Letter to the Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, February 8, 2012

For further information, or to arrange for an interview, contact:
Joseph F. Castrilli, CELA Counsel – (416) 960-2284, ext. 218 ; castrillij@sympatico.ca
Fe de Leon, CELA Researcher – (416) 960-2284, ext. 223 or (416) 624-6758 (cell); deleonf@cela.ca
Mary Richardson, Crooked Creek Conservancy Society of Athabasca – (780) 675-3144; maryr@athabascau.ca
Sandra Madray, Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba – (204) 256-9390; madray@mts.net
Anna Tilman, Vice President, International Institute of Concern for Public Health – (905 841-0095; annatilman@sympatico.ca