Update on Canada’s Chemicals Management

Posted on: January 8, 2014

By Tammy J. Murphy

Canadian law requires scientific information on new chemical substances to be submitted for assessment before using the substances in Canada.  However, many substances were in existence and in use prior to the enactment of these laws.  To address these “existing” substances, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999), mandated that all substances on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) be categorized to determine which of these substances presented the greatest potential for exposure or were persistent, bioaccumulative and inherently toxic.  These substances required additional assessments/research/control measures.  This led to the formation of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) under which chemicals are assessed and managed using multiple tools.  While the first phase of the CMP, the “Challenge to Industry,” continues, the next phase of the CMP was announced in October 2011 and also continues with substance evaluations/assessments, product safety improvements, research of substances that affect human hormone function and/or the environment, etc.  Although there is a focus on those substances identified as part of the “Challenge” or as part of the second phase of the CMP, chemical management for Canada extends beyond just those substances.

Update on Microorganisms:

Microorganisms can include viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi, yeasts, etc.  These substances, whether “new” or existing, are subject to the same screening assessments as chemicals and/or polymers.  The microorganisms that are/were on the (DSL) are being assessed as part of the CMP.

In October 2009, a Section 71 Survey Notice was published in the Canada Gazette.  The Section 71 Notice was mandatory for those who met the requirements and it was a way for the Government to determine if, and in what quantities, the microorganisms on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) at that time were being manufactured and/or imported.  Since that time, additional microorganisms have been added to the DSL.

The microorganisms, both existing and new, are/were divided into three priorities – Priority A, Priority B and Priority C.  Priority A microorganisms (recognized human, plant and/or animal pathogens with uncertain hazard levels) are the highest priority.  Priority B microorganisms (not specifically identified as pathogens but evidence of potential to cause harm) are medium priority substances.  And, Priority C microorganisms are those substances that were determined to have a low potential to cause environmental and/or human harm.  The Priority C microorganisms were subdivided into Lot 1 and Lot 2 organisms.  On December 7, 2013 draft screening assessment reports for a Priority A microorganism and for some Priority C, Lot 2 microorganisms were published.  A final screening assessment report on Priority C, Lot 1 microorganisms was also published.  Please see the notice for a complete list of microorganisms, conclusions and reports.

Update on “Substances Groupings Initiative”:

Part of the 2nd phase of the CMP consists of the assessment and potential management of 9 groups of substances.  The 9 groups include:

  • Aromatic azo- and benzidine-based substance group;
  • Boron-containing substances;
  • Selected substances with potential for human exposure that have been internationally classified;
  • Selected organic flame retardants;
  • Cobalt-containing substances;
  • Methylenediphenyl diisocyanates and diamines;
  • Phthalates;
  • Selenium-containing substances;
  • Substituted diphenylamines

“Section 71 Notices” and/or draft screening assessment reports have previously been published for multiple groupings.  Section 71 Notices, which fall under Section 71 of CEPA, 1999, are mandatory surveys for those who meet the requirements.  Draft screening assessment reports and, if needed, risk management scope documents are developed from the information and/or comments received from the Section 71 Notices and are subsequently released for public comment.

Although the “Substances Groupings Initiative” is a separate initiative from the “Challenge to Industry,” some substances that were previously assessed during the “Challenge” were also included in the “Substances Groupings Initiative.”  In the November 2, 2013 edition of the Canada Gazette, the “Publication after screening assessment…” for certain azo disperse dyes, azo solvent dyes and monoazo pigments was published.  There is a 60-day, from date of publication, public comment period.  Please see the notice for a complete list of substances, conclusions and reports.

Substances outside of the “Challenge”:

Chemical management is an ongoing process applied to substances in Canada.  For example, multiple substances that are not part of the “Challenge” have been added to CEPA, 1999 Schedule 1, List of Toxic Substances, including Long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), their salts and their precursors and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), their salts and their precursors. In August 2012, the final ecological screening assessment report for Long-chain PFCAs containing 9 to 20 carbon atoms, their salts and their precursors was published in which the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Health proposed that these substances “meet one or more of the criteria set out in Section 64 of the Act,” and they proposed recommending these substances be added to CEPA, 1999, Schedule 1.  A proposed risk management approach for these substances was also published.  Similar to long-chained PFCAs, the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Health proposed PFOA, its salts and its precursors also be added to CEPA, 1999, Schedule 1, as these substances “meet one or more of the criteria set out in Section 64 of the Act”  and a proposed risk management approach document was also published in August 2012.  On September 29, 2012, the proposed “Order Adding Toxic Substances to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999” was published with a 60-day, from date of publication, comment period.  And, on November 6, 2013 the final order adding these substances to CEPA, 1999 Schedule 1 was published.

The “Final Screening Assessment on Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and two of its derivatives [TBBPA bis(2-hydroxyethyl ether and TBBPA bis(allyl ether)]” was published in the November 30, 2013 edition of the Canada Gazette.  The draft screening assessment report for these substances, released in November 2012, proposed that these substances met one or more criteria for CEPA, 1999 toxicity.  However, evidence received during the public comment period led Environment Canada and Health Canada to re-evaluate these substances.  Subsequently, the final screening assessment found that these substances did not meet the CEPA, 1999 definition for toxic.  Although these substances were found to not meet the criteria, the Government may still impose control and/or monitoring measures for these substances.


Full text of all notices can be found in the appropriate edition of the Canada Gazette:

Additional information about the Chemicals Management Plan can also be found on the Government of Canada’s Chemical Substances website:


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