New Flame Retardants Regulation Fails to Protect

On December 23, 2016, and January 1, 2017,  new Candian regulations about flame retardant chemicals – decaPBDEs and HBCDs –will come into effect.

These new regulations confirm the argument made in our report Toxic by Design; Canadian regulation of flame retardant chemicals fails to protect fromfr-map-canada ongoing exposures built into common products and materials.

Though a Government of Canada assessment has identified PBDEs as toxic, the new regulations only ban their manufacture, import and sale as a chemical, but not their presence within manufactured items, or components within products, such as foam in furniture.  Moreover, the new regulation anticipates that companies will replace PBDEs and HBCD with alternative chemicals, but makes no provision to adequately address the ongoing replacement of a more studied toxic chemical with a less known chemical.

Just because the Government decides a substance is toxic, Canadians should not assume that they will be adequately protected.

For this reason, EDAction calls on the government to:

1) Prohibit consumer products and components of consumer products containing any flame retardant chemical for which there is evidence of harm, including alternative flame retardants, and those that have no environmental health assessment confirming their safety. Such action recognizes that the current substance-by-substance approach under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and the slow timeline of assessment cannot adequately address the proliferation and distribution of replacement flame retardant chemicals. It also recognizes that the product-by-product approach of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) cannot adequately address the widespread use of flame retardants in many kinds of products and materials.

2) Develop a strategy on the use of alternative flame retardant chemicals that meaningfully implements the precautionary principle. This requires, at minimum, that the government address the way that flammability standard-setting processes work at cross-purposes to the aims of CEPA. The government must integrate decision-making across these domains so as to address the problem of Built-in Exposures.

For more details on how these flaws our built into our regulatory system, read our research paper, Toxic by Design.