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CA: Ottawa wants flame retardants, stain guard on toxic list - PBDE, PFOS in breast milk

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  • binstock@peakpeak.com
    Placing human health above patent-owners profits? Sanity occurs now and then! * * * * Ottawa wants retardants on toxic list Stain guard also included in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2006
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      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
      United States.

      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.


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