Friday, August 30, 2013

Environment Canada to assess risk of new chemicals

Agency will publish summaries of risk assessments for new chemical substances

New chemicals may pose health and safety risks to consumers.
Environment Canada this fall will begin publishing summaries of risk assessments it conducts on certain chemical substances when they are first proposed for domestic use.

The initiative by the department's New Substances Program has the support of industry and nongovernmental organizations, but industry remains concerned about the potential release of confidential business information while NGOs have ongoing concerns about whether enough information will be released.

The publication of risk assessment summaries is part of an effort to improve the transparency of the department's review process for new chemicals.

It was supposed to start in late 2012 but was delayed to take into account issues raised in a 2012 pilot project, the department told BNA in an emailed statement. The summaries are to be published every six months.

The government has previously not made public any details of its risk assessments of new substances. It has issued notices requiring notification of significant new activity or imposing conditions on the use of new substances, but without identifying them as new substances or indicating on what basis the requirements were being applied.

Government to provide details

The 2012 pilot project conducted by Environment Canada and Health Canada under the New Substances Program published summaries of risk assessments of three new chemicals: carbopolycyclic diol polymer with carbonic dichloride and substituted phenol ester; alkoxy-alkylamine blocked aromatic isocyanate polymer; and poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), alpha-monoalkyl ethers- omega-mono-(hydrogen maleate).

The substances had risk assessments completed, final notification of results provided to industry, and requirements for notification to the government of significant new activities published in the Canada Gazette between August and December 2010, Environment Canada said in a background document.

The summaries provide an overview of each substance, its use, hazards, potential exposure, environmental fate, assessment of ecological risk and human health risk, and proposed regulatory decisions, the department said. The evaluations do not address potential exposure and health risks specifically associated with occupational exposure, nor any assessment of uses of the substance already addressed under the Food and Drugs Act or other federal legislation, the department said.

The Canadian government has been assessing new chemicals since 1994, requiring industry to provide the information needed to determine the risk the substances pose to the environment and human health.

The Environment Canada background document, including links to the three sample risk assessment summaries published in 2012, is available at

This article has been edited. Source: Bloomberg BNA

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