Explanatory note for the notice of intent regarding phosphorus

Phosphorus is used in certain detergents and cleaning products to soften water, reduce spotting and rusting, keep dirt particles in suspension, and enhance surfactant performance. Phosphorus can also act as a nutrient that supports the growth of aquatic vegetation. In certain watersheds, releases of phosphorus from detergents and cleaning products to the aquatic environment can contribute to the growth of blue-green algae, impacting the health and enjoyment of Canada's waterways.

The notice of intent to amend the Phosphorus Concentration Regulations was published in Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 16, 2008. This regulatory amendment intends to lower the limits of phosphorus concentration in laundry detergents to 0.5% or lower, introduce limits to the concentration of phosphorus in dishwasher detergents to 0.5% or lower and, where analysis indicates, in general purpose cleaners. The anticipated coming-into-force date is 2010.

The current Phosphorus Concentration Regulations set a maximum phosphorus limit in laundry detergent of 2.2% by weight. Environment Canada intends to amend the current regulations under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to further reduce the limit in laundry detergents to 0.5% or lower by weight, and to introduce a limit of 0.5% or lower by weight of phosphorus in dishwasher detergents. If warranted, phosphorus concentration in general purpose cleaners will also be limited. The anticipated entry into force date for the amended regulations is 2010, timed in order to achieve consistency with the establishment of limits in other jurisdictions.

The regulatory process is designed to ensure that all stakeholders have opportunities to provide input on the proposed amendments. The regulatory process encourages input. It considers a number of factors, including scientific, environmental, economic and social implications.

As a first opportunity, interested parties are invited to submit written comments further to the published Notice of Intent by April 16, 2008. Environment Canada will also convene consultations with stakeholders as part of the development of the proposed amendments to the regulations.

Individuals will again have the opportunity to provide written feedback during a 60-day time period following publication of draft amended regulations in Canada Gazette, Part I, in the early summer of 2008. All input will be taken into consideration during the development of the final amended regulations and prior to publication in Canada Gazette, Part II, in the fall of 2008.

Please direct comments to:

Director, Products Division
Chemical Sectors Directorate
Environmental Stewardship Branch
Environment Canada
351 Boulevard Saint-Joseph
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3
Fax: 1-888-391-3695
Email: ec.produits-products.ec@canada.ca

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