February 19, 2007

First batch of chemicals listed as part of Ottawa's Challenge to Industry

On February 8, federal Environment and Health Ministers John Baird and Tony Clement jointly launched the Challenge to Industry for the safe management of chemicals. Through this initiative, the federal government will separate 200 chemicals singled out for high-priority action into batches of 15-30 substances. These lists will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I every three months. The first list of 15 priority substances appeared in the February 3, 2007 edition of the Gazette.

Industrial companies with any of these substances in their possession will then be required to take action and provide information within four to six months on how they are safely managing them. The 200 substances classified as being of high priority for government action following the world-leading work by Canada on the systematic categorization of legacy chemical substances, which were announced December 8, 2006 (EcoWeek January 1, 2007).

"The onus will be on industry to demonstrate that these chemicals are used in ways that do not pose a hazard to human health or the environment," explained Clement. "We will use our regulatory powers to fill any gaps that may exist, and implement control measures for substances that are not being managed appropriately."

Baird stated, "Industry needs to be accountable for its role in safely managing chemicals. If they are unable to provide evidence of safe management practices, we will require action that may include banning the use of substances that are harmful to the environment or human health."

The federal government will use the information it receives from industry, along with the information it gathers from the international scientific community, from environmental and health groups and from the public to decide what action should be taken.

After gathering and reviewing the information, the government will render its decision on the need for further action within six months. The process to address all of the 200 chemical substances will take three years.

The first batch of chemicals includes: methyl- and ethyloxirane; several forms of peroxide and of benzene; naphthalene and several of its compounds; benzenediol compounds; benzenesulfonic acid compounds; and propanedinitrile compounds.

More information on Canada's Chemicals Management Plan and Challenge to Industry, including full listings of substances in the first batch, is available on the program's Web site, www.chemicalsubstances.gc.ca.

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