CA: Ottawa wants flame retardants, stain guard on toxic list - PBDE, PFOS in breast milk
- Placing human health above patent-owners' profits? Sanity occurs now and
* * * *
Ottawa wants retardants on toxic list
Stain guard also included in crackdown
The federal government wants to add two chemicals that have been widely
used in the production of stain repellants and flame retardants to
Canada's list of toxic substances, one of the most aggressive regulatory
actions in the world against the compounds.
The substances, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and perfluorooctane
sulfonate, have been widely used for decades in consumer products such as
computers, mattresses, televisions, furniture and clothing. They are
probably found in most homes in the country.
Ottawa is taking action because the chemicals, neither of which are
manufactured in Canada, have been linked to a range of troubling symptoms
in recent laboratory tests using rodents. The problems include conditions
that resemble attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders in children,
thyroid hormone disruption, decreased sperm counts, and in some cases,
Trace levels of the two chemicals have been detected in the bodies of
almost all Canadians who have been tested. Elevated amounts have been
found in wildlife, including Arctic mammals such as polar bears that are
far from any known manufacturing facilities.
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose and Health Minister Tony Clement are
unveiling the proposals today in the Canada Gazette, the government's
official record of regulatory announcements.
They add the chemicals to Canada's list of harmful substances, which
already includes such dangerous compounds as cancer-causing asbestos, will
allow Ottawa to make formal regulations to restrict the compounds.
The two substances were among those profiled in a recent Globe and Mail
series that investigated the exposure of Canadians to dangerous pollutants
in household products.
PFOS, for instance, was a key ingredient in the Scotchgard brand of stain
repellent used on clothing and carpets for nearly 40 years, until its
manufacturer, 3M Corp., announced a phase-out in 2000.
Although the Conservative government has often triggered the ire of
environmentalists for cutting climate-change programs, it received rare
accolades yesterday from anti-pollution activists for its intention to
classify the chemicals as toxic.
No other country has designated the entire class of PBDE flame retardants
as dangerous. Chemical producers have been fighting an intense battle to
keep the European Union, generally considered the world's leading
regulator on pollutants, from moving against a PBDE formulation known as
"deca" that Canada is proposing to regulate.
"The federal government has made the right decision and they deserve
credit for that," said Rick Smith, executive director of the Toronto-based
group Environmental Defence.
The main industry association of flame-retardant manufacturers, the
Washington-based Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, could not be
reached for comment.
Previous tests by Health Canada found Canadian women have the second
highest levels of PBDEs in their breast milk in the world, after the
In the Canada Gazette filing, the ministers said they didn't think
exposures to breast-fed infants were high enough to cause harm, although
they said more research would have to be done to prove this conclusively.
The material in this post is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research
and educational purposes.For more information go to:
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this
email for purposes that go beyond 'fair use', you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.