GLOBE SERIES

More high risk chemicals identified

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Source: GLOBE SERIES

The fifth batch of chemical substances recognized under the Chemicals Management Plan as having potential risks to human health have been announced by the federal government.

The announcement, jointly made by Health Minister Tony Clement and Environment Minister John Baird, was accompanied by a notice in the Canada Gazette listing the substances and inviting stakeholders to submit information that could be used to develop and benchmark best practices for risk management and product stewardship.

'We are taking the issue of harmful chemicals very seriously because we understand that there are some chemicals out there that are inherently dangerous and can remain so for a long time,' said Minister Clement.

The fifth batch of substances are listed here.

Stakeholders will have until June 17, 2008 to provide information on how these chemicals are used and managed. The Chemicals Management Plan was announced on December 8, 2006 to accelerate risk assessment and subsequent management actions for priority chemicals.

The Government will assess the information it receives on how these substances are managed, and decide if further actions are required. The Government will act unless compelling information is received indicating these substances are safely managed.

'We are taking action every day to meet the tough timelines we’ve set in order to ensure these chemicals are addressed quickly and efficiently,' said Minister Baird. 'We will make timely decisions to ensure that any risks associated with certain substances are minimized as soon as possible.'

Industry and stakeholders have been providing Environment Canada and Health Canada with information on batches of 15 to 30 substances every three months.

The environmental and health impacts of chemicals used in industry and in households have been the subject of in depth scientific study in Canada, the United States and Europe in recent years. Studies have shown alarming levels of potentially toxic substances in humans and animals.

Canada has been playing catch up with respect to the management of chemicals, but is steadily closing the gap. To date the government has analyzed approximately 23,000 substances of which 4,000 have been categorized as substances of concern and 200 of which were found to present a great risk to human health.

In 2007 Canada joined a regional partnership with the United States and Mexico to ensure the safe manufacture and use of industrial chemicals by assessing and managing the potential risks of 9,000 chemicals.

Also in 2007 Health Canada began the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals study, a $3.9 million review of the effects of environmental chemicals on pregnant women and their babies.

The Chemicals Management Plan identified Bisphenol A as a high risk chemical. It is found in plastic drinking bottles, including baby bottles. Information provided by the Plan enabled many retailers, including Mountain Equipment Co-op, to identify products containing the substance and to cease sales.

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