Media Release

Protecting Health of Canadians Requires Federal Government to Apply Highest Level of Accountability and Precaution in Chemicals Evaluation

Oct 03 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) urges the federal government to use its full authority under its environmental health legislation as it prepares to evaluate over 2500 chemical substances by 2020. CELA’s prior work has identified strengthening accountability by industry for its use of toxic chemicals and promoting prevention of use of toxic chemicals in Canada as key elements for an improved federal approach to chemicals management.

“The government’s announcement to continue with evaluating chemicals is important to Canada’s effort to address remaining chemicals of concern” states Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel at CELA. “As the government moves forward, there are very high expectations for this program. We are looking for improvements in the approach to include establishing higher levels of accountability in the evaluations and management of toxic chemicals than was seen under Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).”

All targeted chemicals have been in use in the Canadian market since at least the 1980s and have not been subjected to evaluations or management regimes.

“If we are to provide the most vulnerable people in our society, including workers, children, and the developing fetus, with protection from toxic chemicals in consumer products and industrial processes, data collection and industry accountability on chemical safety needs to be strengthened significantly in this phase of the program” states Fe de Leon, researcher at the CELA. “Chemicals should not continue to be given a free pass into the Canadian market without having first been scrutinized for safety. CELA calls for the federal government to apply precaution in its evaluation process by explicitly adding neuro-developmental toxicity and endocrine disruption data to its list of health impacts. To do so would require a dramatic shift by government to exercise its full authority under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to require industry to provide this information in a timely manner. CELA calls on the federal government to take this approach in this new phase of the CMP.”

The details of the government approach will be unveiled over the next few weeks.

“The Canadian framework to chemicals management remains largely reactionary and requires evidence of harm before management measures are considered. The approach taken by the federal government to this point does not do enough to focus on preventing harm from toxic chemicals. However, with this announcement we hope the government takes the opportunity to raise its efforts for identifying and implementing safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in Canada.” noted Fe de Leon.

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Media contact:
Fe de Leon, Researcher
Office: 416-960-2284 ext 223