New Health Canada rules set lower limits for lead, mercury in surface coatings
OTTAWA, ONT-Health Canada has put in place regulations setting new, lower acceptable levels for lead and mercury in paints, enamels, varnishes, lacquers, shellacs or similar materials that dry to a solid film on the application surface. The regulations do not apply to materials that become absorbed into the application surface, such as wood stains and sealers. The new regulations, published in the May 4, 2005 Canada Gazette part II, reduce the lead content limit from 5000 mg/kg (0.5% by weight) to 600 mg/kg (0.06% by weight) for surface coating materials used in or around the home or other premises where children or pregnant women may become exposed, or on furniture, toys and other articles for children, as well as on pencils and artists' brushes. The mercury content limit has been set at 10 mg/kg (0.001% by weight) for all surface coating materials. The Canadian paint and coatings industry is, for the most part, already producing consumer surface coating materials within these limits; these regulations serve to formalize these requirements for surface coating materials advertised, sold or imported into Canada. The regulatory changes also align Canada's requirements for surface coating materials with those of the United States. In addition, regulation of these products provides a level playing field for all domestic and imported surface coatings marketed in Canada. The new regulations came into force on April 19, 2005.