Consultation on regulatory approach to prohibit asbestos: chapter 4


3 Proposed regulatory approach

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC) are considering the enactment of new stand-alone regulations under section 93 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to prohibit the import, use, sale and offer for sale of asbestos, as well as the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of products containing asbestos. The key elements of these proposed regulations are described in section 3.1. The export of all types of asbestos and products containing asbestos would be prohibited through amendments to the existing Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR) (see section 3.2).

The new regulations and amendments to the ESECLR are elements of the government-wide strategy to introduce a comprehensive ban on asbestos to reduce Canadian’s future exposure to it. More information on the government-wide strategy for the management of asbestos in Canada is available on-line.

3.1 Proposed regulations

3.1.1 Substance scope

The proposed regulations would target asbestos, defined as any fibrous form of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals including: actinolite asbestos; amosite; anthophyllite asbestos; chrysotile; crocidolite; and tremolite asbestos. Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Numbers (CAS RN)Footnote3 for these minerals are provided in Table 2.

The prohibition would apply to asbestos and products containing asbestos, as described in item 6 of the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of CEPA.

Table 2: CAS RN for asbestos minerals
Minerals CAS RN
Asbestos 1332-21-4
Actinolite 77536-66-4
Amosite 12172-73-5
Anthophyllite 77536-67-5
Chrysotile 12001-29-5
Crocidolite 12001-28-4
Tremolite 77536-68-6

3.1.2 Application

The proposed regulations would apply to any person who imports, uses, sells or offers for sale asbestos, or who manufactures, uses, sells, offers for sale or imports products containing asbestos, but would not apply to:

  • mining,
  • processing of mining residues for certain purposes,
  • asbestos that is contained in a pest control product as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Pest Control Products Act, and
  • asbestos or products containing asbestos that are used in a laboratory for analysis, in scientific research or as a laboratory analytical standard in a quantity below a threshold of one gram.
3.1.2.1 Mining

The proposed regulations will not apply to mining activities.

Mining activities are subject to federal, provincial and territorial laws, regulations, and requirements.

As noted in Section 2.2 there is no longer any asbestos mining in Canada. Since the proposed regulatory approach would prohibit the use, sale, offer for sale, export and import of asbestos, there would be no market for asbestos in the future.

3.1.2.2 Mining residues

The regulations will not prohibit the processing of mining residues to extract metals such as magnesium or other valuable materials, or to produce products or materials that do not contain asbestos.

The mining residue could not be used to manufacture a product containing asbestos as the manufacture, sale, offer for sale and export of products that contain asbestos would be prohibited.

The use of mining residues for construction and landscaping activities would be prohibited.

3.1.2.3 Asbestos contained in a pest control product

The proposed regulations would not apply to asbestos that is contained in a pest control product as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Pest Control Product Act (PCPA). There are no pesticides registered in Canada that contain asbestos. Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) regulates all pesticides in Canada, under the authority of the PCPA. Health Canada only registers pesticides after a stringent, science-based evaluation concludes that there are no unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, and that the product has value (PMRA, 2017).

3.1.2.4 Laboratory analysis and scientific research

In order to allow continued research with respect to asbestos, as well as laboratory analyses, the proposed regulations would not apply to the import and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos for laboratory analysis, scientific research or for use as a laboratory analytical standard below a one gram threshold.  For a quantity equal to or above the one gram threshold, there would be reporting and record keeping requirements (see section 3.1.4.2).

3.1.3 General exemptions

The following general exemptions are being proposed for inclusion in the regulations:

  • naturally occurring traces of asbestos;
  • asbestos or products containing asbestos that were manufactured or imported before the day on which the regulations would come into force.
3.1.3.1 Naturally occurring traces of asbestos

Asbestos is naturally present in soil and rock formations. The proposed regulations would not prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of products containing naturally occurring traces of asbestos.

3.1.3.2 Asbestos or products containing asbestos that were manufactured or imported before the day on which these regulations come into force

The proposed regulations would apply only to activities that occur after the coming into force of the regulations. Therefore, the proposed regulations would not prohibit the use, sale and offer for sale of asbestos and products containing asbestos that were manufactured or imported prior to the coming into force of the regulations such as products containing asbestos found in buildings and in vehicles. These uses will continue to be subject to applicable laws and requirements under Occupational Health and Safety legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

3.1.4 Specific exemptions

Specific exemptions will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, taking into account socio-economic factors, the demonstrated absence of suitable alternatives, and with consideration of health risks. Should specific exemptions be included, fixed time limits may be proposed. Any on-going uses allowed through specific exemptions may be accompanied by reporting, record keeping, monitoring, labelling and/or other requirements to inform the public of the presence of asbestos.

In addition to asbestos, the following products containing asbestos are currently imported and/or used in Canada:

  • friction materials (e.g., brake pads),
  • construction materials (e.g., cement pipes and sheets),
  • fabric, textile and leather articles,
  • paper, millboard and felt, and
  • brake blocks for oil and natural gas extraction.

Only the following specific exemptions are being considered and would be subject to reporting and record keeping requirements:

  • asbestos or products containing asbestos displayed for education (e.g. museum), and
  • asbestos or products containing asbestos that are used in a laboratory for analysis, in scientific research or as a laboratory analytical standard in a quantity equal or above a threshold of one gram.
3.1.4.1 Asbestos or products containing asbestos displayed for educational purpose

Recognizing Canada’s history of asbestos mining, it is proposed to exempt the import and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos strictly for educational purposes, such as for display in museums. However, any facility importing asbestos or products containing asbestos after the coming into force of the regulations would be required to meet the proposed reporting and record keeping requirements as described in sections 3.1.6 and section3.1.7.

3.1.4.2 Asbestos or products containing asbestos that are used in a laboratory for analysis, in scientific research or as a laboratory analytical standard in a quantity equal or above a threshold of one gram

As described in section 3.1.2.4, in order to allow continued research with respect to asbestos, as well as laboratory analyses, the proposed regulations would not apply to the import and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos for laboratory analysis, scientific research or for use as a laboratory analytical standard when the quantity imported or used is below the one gram threshold. However, when the quantity would be equal to or above a threshold of one gram there would be reporting and record keeping requirements as described in sections 3.1.6 and section3.1.7.

3.1.5 Testing

There is no anticipated testing to meet the requirements of the proposed regulations.

3.1.6 Reporting

3.1.6.1 Laboratory and scientific research

The proposed regulations would require persons using asbestos or a product containing asbestos in a laboratory for analysis, in scientific research or as a laboratory analytical standard to report their intended use at the beginning of every calendar year if they expect to exceed an annual use of one gram. It would also be required to report the actual use for each calendar year no later than March 31 of the following year. The following information would be required:

  • Contact information for the laboratory and for the person authorized to act on the company’s behalf,
  • The type of asbestos,
  • The type and name of the product, if applicable,
  • The anticipated period of its use,
  • The estimated quantity of asbestos to be used in the calendar year and its unit of measurement,
  • The identification of each proposed use and actual use, as the case may be,
  • In the case of a product containing asbestos:
    • The estimated quantity of the product to be used in a calendar year and its unit of measurement,
    • The estimated concentration of asbestos in that product and its unit of measurement,
  • A description of the safety precautions for the use of asbestos and products containing asbestos.
3.1.6.2 Asbestos or products containing asbestos displayed for educational purpose

The proposed regulations would require persons using asbestos or a product containing asbestos to display for educational purposes (e.g.museum) to report their intended use at the beginning of every calendar year. It would also be required to report the actual use for each calendar year no later than March 31 of the following year. The following information would be required:

  • Contact information for the company and for the person authorized to act on the company’s behalf,
  • The type of asbestos,
  • The type and name of the product, if applicable,
  • The anticipated period of its display,
  • The estimated quantity of asbestos used to be displayed in the calendar year and its unit of measurement,
  • The product description of the asbestos or product containing asbestos to be displayed, and
  • A description of the safety precautions for the display of asbestos and product containing asbestos.

3.1.7 Record keeping

Persons subject to any of the reporting requirements of the regulations would be required to keep records of their submissions for 5 years at the principal place of business in Canada.

3.2 Export of asbestos and products containing asbestos

The proposed regulatory approach to prohibit the export of asbestos and products containing asbestos would be achieved through amendments to the existing Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR) made under CEPA. These regulations are recognized by exporters as the instrument to consult prior to the export of toxic substances. In addition, these regulations include provisions and requirements to ensure that Canada is compliant with its export obligations under international conventions, including the Rotterdam Convention.

3.3 Changes to other regulations

As the proposed new asbestos prohibition regulations would set-out a comprehensive regime prohibiting asbestos and products containing asbestos in Canada, the Asbestos Products Regulations made under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act would be repealed.

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