Products Containing Mercury Regulations: frequently asked questions

1. What is the purpose of these regulations?

The purpose of the regulations is to contribute to Canada's efforts to reduce the risks posed by releases of mercury to the environment by prohibiting the manufacture and import of products containing mercury or any of its compounds. In some cases, content of mercury in products is limited.

The regulations also implement Canada’s international obligations with respect to mercury-containing products under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

2. What are the key elements of these regulations?

The regulations:

  • prohibit the manufacture and import of most mercury containing products into Canada
  • exempt and set content limits on the maximum quantity of mercury in certain essential products such as compact fluorescent lamps, straight fluorescent tubes, and neon signs
  • require manufacturers and importers of exempted mercury containing products to report to Environment and Climate Change Canada every 3 years
  • require labelling of exempted mercury containing products so that consumers are aware of the presence of mercury, safe handling procedures, measures to take in case of accidental breakage, and options for disposal and recycling

3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?

Domestic manufacturing of mercury-containing products is limited to lamps and neon signs. The lamp industry has voluntarily committed to reduce mercury content in their products in order to comply with similar requirements abroad. It is expected therefore that the impact of the regulations on the manufacturing sector in Canada will be low, as compliance can be achieved without incremental capital investments or further need to reformulate these products.  

For neon signs, no incremental costs are estimated to be incurred by the domestic neon sign manufacturers since their current practices are not anticipated to be affected by the regulations. The maximum mercury content limit provides regulatory certainty to the industry.

In most cases, importers are expected to be able to substitute mercury-free products that are technically feasible and comparably priced for products containing mercury. Furthermore, altogether, the incremental costs incurred by importers and domestic manufacturers, as the result of relative increases in the prices of goods allowed to be imported, are assumed to be partly passed on to consumers.

4. What products are exempted from the regulations? And why?

Exemptions are provided for essential products which have no technically or economically viable alternatives, such as certain medical and research applications and dental amalgam. Exempted products are listed in schedule 1 of the regulations.

With respect to these products, a maximum total quantity of mercury is allowed and is also provided in schedule 1.

In the case of lamps, the regulations limit the amount of mercury contained in fluorescent and other types of lamps. This approach is expected to reduce the amount of mercury emissions from lamps while providing consumer choice as the market transitions to Natural Resource Canada’s minimum energy performance standards for incandescent lamps.

5. What is the timeline for implementation?

The regulations, made under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on November 19, 2014. The regulations came into force on November 8, 2015.

Schedule 1 of the regulations contains the list of exempted products with the end date of their exemption.

6. Where can I get more information?

For more information, please contact us at:

Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard 9th floor
Place Vincent Massey
Gatineau QC  K1A OH3

Tel: 819-938-4483 / 1-888-391-3426

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and consulting with Canadians websites.

This document is intended to provide contextual information on the Products Containing Mercury Regulations. It does not replace the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, or the Products Containing Mercury Regulations. In the event of any inconsistencies, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Products Containing Mercury Regulations shall prevail.

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