Certain organic flame retardants substance grouping

Petition: 433

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement; Human/environmental health; Toxic substances

Petitioner(s): A Canadian Organization

Petitioner Location(s): Toronto, Ontario

Date Received: 27 September 2019

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition focuses on the toxicity assessment that the Government of Canada conducted under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 on the 10 substances categorized in the “certain organic flame retardants substance grouping.” The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Health assessed these substances under sections 68 and 74 of the act regarding their toxicity or potential to become toxic for the environment or human health.

In May 2019, the ministers published final screening assessment decisions, final state of the science reports, and proposed risk management approaches for the substances. The final state of the science reports for 3 substances—TBB, TBPH, and ATE—indicate that at current levels of exposure, these substances are not considered harmful to human health or the environment. However, according to the petition, the final state of the science reports do not reach any conclusions about whether these 3 substances are toxic under section 64 of the act, stating that the assessments were instead conducted under section 68 of the act.

The petition poses a series of questions about the final state of the science reports and toxicity assessment in relation to the act’s requirements and the 3 substances’ manufacture and import into Canada. The petition asks about government plans on the 3 substances that have no toxicity conclusions. The petition wants to know whether the government will publish the final toxicity decision or reassessment of the substances. In addition, the petition asks how the ministers determine whether a substance from the certain organic flame retardants substance grouping “may enter” the environment and what assumptions they use to come to a conclusion. The petition also seeks clarification as to whether the ministers considered the possibility that increased exposure of certain substances may occur because of the corresponding decreased use of other materials.

The petition also refers to section 81 of the act, which provides information about the manufacture or import of substances, and to section 84 of the act, which describes actions to be taken after assessment. The petition asks how many substances identified as toxic or potentially toxic under section 81 have been prohibited under section 84(1)(b), and how many substances that were identified under section 81 were then allowed into Canada. It also asks about the status of substances previously prohibited under section 84. The petition questions whether previous levels of exposure are taken into account when a new notification for an already assessed substance is received, and if during assessment, potential sources of exposure from manufactured products are considered.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Health Canada