What you need to know about the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, version 2

Version 2.0
August 2021

Disclaimer: this document is provided for information purposes only. It does not cover all of the aspects of the Products Containing Mercury Regulations. In the case of discrepancy between this document and the Regulations, the official version of the Regulations prevails.

Cat. no.: En14-233/2020E-PDF
ISBN: 978-0-660-34097-5
EC7357

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General

This document provides an overview of the requirements under the Products Containing Mercury Regulations.

Mercury, Hg

Mercury is a naturally occurring chemical element. It is considered a global contaminant because it is toxic, does not break down in the environment and can build up in living organisms. Mercury is primarily released as a result of human activities such as mining, smelting, the burning of coal, and product use and disposal. Once in the atmosphere, mercury can remain airborne for long periods and be deposited around the world.

Mercury and its compounds are part of a global cycle and contribute to the environmental loadings of more harmful forms of mercury. For example, some micro-organisms and natural processes can change mercury or one of its compounds in the environment from one form to another. Methyl mercury, which is formed in the environment from the methylation of inorganic mercury, is of particular concern since it can build up (bioaccumulate and biomagnify) in many edible fish (freshwater and saltwater), and in marine mammals, to levels that are many times greater than those in the surrounding water.

In addition, mercury and its compounds tend to accumulate in polar regions, and concentrations measured in Canada’s arctic lakes have increased 2- to 3-fold over the past century.

Mercury and its compounds are toxic substances listed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

Products Containing Mercury Regulations

The Products Containing Mercury Regulations (the Regulations) were published on November 19, 2014, under the authority of the CEPA. This domestic action builds on Canada’s international leadership and commitments to reduce mercury.

The objective of the Regulations is to protect human health and the environment by reducing releases of mercury from products used in Canada to the lowest level that is technically and economically feasible.

The Regulations came into force in November 2015, and they:

ECCC administers and enforces the Regulations. Canadian actions regarding mercury in products will contribute to global efforts to reduce worldwide mercury pollution and its associated impacts. These actions will reduce the quantity of mercury accumulating in Canada’s environment, which will result in corresponding benefits for Canadians.

Accessing the Regulations

The Products Containing Mercury Regulations and related guidance documents are available at ECCC’s CEPA Registry.

Further information can also be obtained by contacting ECCC at 819-938-4483/1-800-391-3426 or ec.products-produits.ec@ec.gc.ca.

Compliance information

1. Application

The following provides information on the Regulations and if it applies to you.

1.1 Persons subject to the Products Containing Mercury Regulations

The Regulations apply to persons importing or manufacturing mercury-containing products, whether these products are on their own (for example, mercury-containing switches) or as a component of a product (for example, within appliances).

1.2 Products prohibited or exempted by the Regulations

For further details, please refer to section 3 of the Regulations.

The Regulations broadly prohibit mercury-containing products, while providing certain exemptions for mercury-containing products that are essential to Canadians and that currently do not have technically or economically feasible alternatives. In the case of lamps, such as light bulbs, rather than introducing a prohibition, the Regulations limit the amount of mercury contained in certain fluorescent and other types of lamps.

It is important to note, however, that since the Regulations prohibit all mercury containing products (unless they have been exempted by or excluded from the Regulations), a comprehensive list of all prohibited mercury-containing products cannot be provided. Some examples of prohibited mercury containing products are listed below:

Some examples of exempted products are provided in the list below. Please note, however, that this list is not exhaustive and that the Schedule of the Regulations should be consulted for exact wording, mercury content limits and end dates for exemptions. Examples include:

1.3 Products to which the Regulations do not apply

For further details, please refer to sections article1, article3 and the Schedule of the Regulations.

The Regulations do not apply to wastes or products at the end of their useful life that are intended to be recycled, or to on-road vehicles as defined in subsection 1(1) of the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations that are of the 2016 model year or older.

Furthermore, the Regulations do not apply to mercury-containing products where the risk from mercury is managed through other federal instruments or authority. Such is the case of:

The Regulations do not apply to ores, concentrates and by-products of metallurgic operations because mercury is not deliberately added.

For a complete list of exclusions, please refer to section 2 of the Regulations.

1.4 Products that may be considered to be mercury-free

The Regulations include numerical thresholds to indicate which products will be considered to be “mercury-free.” Specifically, if mercury is present in a product (other than a battery) at a concentration of less than or equal to 0.1% by weight in homogeneous material, the requirements of the Regulations do not apply, as it would be considered mercury-free. In the case of batteries, the maximum mercury concentration that would be considered as mercury-free is 0.0005% by weight in homogeneous material (this maximum concentration does not apply to button cell batteries until January 1, 2016).

See section 2 of the Regulations for details on the above-mentioned thresholds for certain products.

For guidance purposes, homogeneous material is defined as: “one material of uniform composition throughout, or a material, consisting of a combination of materials, that cannot be disjointed or separated into different materials by mechanical actions such as unscrewing, cutting, crushing, grinding and abrasive processes”. (Source: European Union Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products).

2. Main requirements

This section goes over the requirements of the Regulations, in terms of labelling, testing and reporting for products containing mercury.

2.1 Main requirements of the Regulations

The Regulations prohibit the import and manufacture of all products that contain mercury or any of its compounds, with some exemptions for essential products that have no technically or economically feasible alternatives.

The Regulations set requirements for importers and manufacturers of exempted or permitted mercury-containing products, including:

Each of these elements is explained in more detail below.

End dates for certain exempted products are specified in the Schedule of the Regulations.

2.2 Mercury content limits

Exempted products listed in the Schedule of the Regulations must respect the maximum total quantity of mercury (or content limit) set for these products, if applicable.

2.3 Testing requirements

Regulated parties do not have to test products listed in the Schedule of the Regulations in order to import or manufacture them. However, if a product is tested by ECCC as part of its market surveillance activities, the product must not exceed the applicable maximum total quantity of mercury or maximum mercury concentration indicated in the Regulations. Testing conducted by ECCC to verify compliance with the Regulations must be carried out by an accredited laboratory, as indicated in section 10 of the Regulations.

It is the responsibility of the importer and manufacturer to ensure that the products they import or manufacture are in compliance with the Regulations.

2.4 Determining the total quantity of mercury

As indicated in paragraphs 10(a) and 10(b) of the Regulations, any determination of total quantity of mercury made for the purposes of the Regulations must be conducted by a laboratory that is accredited by a Canadian accrediting body under the International Organization for Standardization standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 or by a laboratory that is accredited under the Environment Quality Act, R.S.Q., c. Q-2, as amended from time to time.

An internationally recognized method (IEC 62321) has been specified for determining the quantity of mercury in electrotechnical products.

The 2013 version of standard IEC 62321 is referenced in section 11 of the Regulations (IEC 62321-4:2013). When the standard is amended, the updated version must be used.

A list of laboratories accredited under the standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories is available from the Standards Council of Canada website.

Information on how to become an accredited laboratory under this standard is available from the Standards Council of Canada.

A list of laboratories accredited under the Quebec Environment Quality Act is available from the Government of Quebec (in French only).

Further Information on Quebec’s Accreditation Program for Analysis Laboratories is available from the Government of Quebec.

2.5 Labelling requirements

Mercury-containing products that are exempted or permitted under the Regulations are required to have the following statement in a readily visible location on the product and, if applicable, on the package: "Contains mercury / Contient du mercure".

Other required labelling information includes:

The information must be presented as follows:

It should be noted that, under the Regulations, labelling is not required on products manufactured in Canada for export or on replacement parts, as defined in the Schedule of the Regulations (see subsection 8(5) of the Regulations).

For more details on labelling requirements, refer to section 8 of the Regulations.

2.5.1 Labelling products that are too small to accommodate the required information

If the product is too small to accommodate the required information, labelling information must be:

Refer to subsection 8(3) of the Regulations for further details.

2.5.2 Labelling requirement if mercury is contained in a component of a product

If the mercury is contained in a component of a product, the information must be indicated:

Refer to subsection 8(4) of the Regulations for further details.

2.6 The Hg symbol

Hg is the chemical symbol for mercury, and it is used to indicate the presence of mercury in certain products. If your product belongs to a product category referred to in items 2 to 14, 22 or 23 of the Schedule of the Regulations, then Hg symbol labelling requirements apply:

2.6.1 Placement of the Hg symbol on the product

Refer to section 9 of the Regulations for further details on Hg symbol labelling requirements.

2.6.2 Examples of labelling on products

The following examples are provided for guidance purposes only.

Labelling examples for lamps such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

For this example, it is assumed that a CFL is too small to accommodate all the required labelling information. Therefore, the information is placed on the package (see paragraph 8(3)(a) of the Regulations). The Hg symbol must be on the CFL itself (see paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Regulations).


Figure 1. Illustration of labelling for a CFL

Illustration of labelling for a compact fluorescent lamp (see long description below).
Description of figure 1

Illustration of a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) with the required labelling information. The image shows a CFL, with the Hg symbol on it, in a package that indicates the following information in both official languages:

  • In English:
    • lamp contains mercury (Hg)
    • dispose or recycle in accordance with applicable laws
    • for information on safe handling procedures and safe disposal and recycling, consult www.XXXXX.org or 1-800-XXX-XXXX
Labelling examples for products with a mercury component

In this example, it is assumed that an automobile has mercury-containing headlamps. Since the headlamps are components of the vehicle, the required labelling information could go in a notice or manual (see paragraph 8(3)(b) of the Regulations).


Figure 2. Illustration of labelling for an automobile with mercury-containing headlamps

Illustration of labelling for an automobile with mercury containing headlamps (see long description below).
Description of figure 2

Image of a headlamp in an automobile with the following required labelling information:

  • the Hg symbol or the WEE bin, and
  • an image of a manual indicating that other required information could go in athe product’s  manual (paper or electronic)


Figure 3. Sample information to be provided in manual

Lamp contains mercury (Hg)

Consult www.XXXXX.org or 1-800-XXX-XXXX for:

  • measures to be taken in case of breakage;
  • safe handling procedures; and
  • recycling and disposal options.

Dispose or recycle in accordance with applicable laws.

Cette lampe contient du mercure (Hg)

Consulter www.XXXXX.org ou 1-800-XXX-XXXX pour :

  • les mesures à prendre en cas de bris;
  • les procédures de manipulation sécuritaires; et
  • les options pour le recyclage et l’élimination.

Éliminez ou recyclez conformément aux lois applicables.

In the example illustrated in figure 4, it is assumed that a computer screen uses mercury-containing cold cathode fluorescent lamps. Refer to subsection 8(4) of the Regulations for details.

For cold cathode fluorescent lamps, the Hg symbol must be placed on an external surface of the product containing the lamp as a component. For example, the Hg symbol could be placed directly on the plastic housing/casing surrounding the screen, or on an affixed data plate that typically contains other similar markings. Refer to paragraph 9(1)(b) of the Regulations.


Figure 4. Illustration of proper labelling for a computer screen containing a cold cathode fluorescent lamp

Illustration of proper labelling for a computer screen containing a cold cathode fluorescent lamp (see long description below).
Description of figure 4

Image of a computer screen that contains a cold cathode fluorescent lamp with the following required labelling information:

  • the Hg symbol placed on the external surface of the product
  • an image of a manual indicating that other required information can be indicated on the product or in a notice or in the product’s manual

2.7 Reporting under the Regulations

Information on the reporting requirements under the Regulations.

2.7.1 Reporting to ECCC

Manufacturers and importers of exempted or permitted mercury-containing products are required to report to ECCC (see section 12 of the Regulations).

Manufacturers will not have to report if they are making a product with a mercury-containing component that has already been reported on by the importer. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that mercury entering the Canadian marketplace is only reported once.

Importers will always have to report.

2.7.2 Reporting frequency

A first report was to be submitted by March 31, 2017, on 2016 data. Subsequent reports will be required every 3 years.

Reporting
Report due date Data year reported on
March 31, 2017 2016
March 31, 2020 2019
March 31, 2023 2022
March 31 of every third year thereafter Every third year thereafter
2.7.3 Reporting requirements

Reporting information will be required on:

Refer to subsection 12(2) of the Regulations for details on the information required to be reported on.

2.7.4 How to report

Reports must be submitted through the online reporting system for the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, available on ECCC's Single Window information Manager (SWIM).

Access SWIM and subsequently access the online reporting system.

Comprehensive guidance material for the online reporting system is available on the Regulations' CEPA Registry webpage.

The tool 5 steps for easy reporting is also available.

However, as stated in subsection 13(2), if it is not feasible to send the information electronically because of circumstances beyond the person’s control, the information must be sent on paper in the form and format specified by the minister and signed by the person or a duly authorized representative. If no form and format have been specified, the information may be sent in any form and format.

2.8 Record keeping under the Regulations

Information on the record keeping requirements under the Regulations.

2.8.1 Record keeping requirements

Compliance with the Regulations is best demonstrated through record keeping. The Regulations specify the information that should be available for inspection, depending on whether you are a manufacturer or an importer. Refer to section 14, section15 and section16 for details.

Information to prove that the mercury content of exempted products is at or below the content limits would also assist in demonstrating compliance. This could include factory dosage information, company engineering specifications, quality assurance and control procedures used during product manufacturing, and testing results from an accredited laboratory.

2.9 Permits under the Regulations

Information on the permit requirements under the Regulations.

2.9.1 Requesting a permit to manufacture or import a mercury-containing product

Permits can be issued in exceptional circumstances and according to specific criteria set out in the Regulations. For further details on the permitting scheme, please refer to sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Regulations.

2.9.2 Applying for a permit

The permit application should be submitted by the person who will import or manufacture the product. Globally based parent companies may assist importers in preparing the permit application. However, the permit application must come from the importer or manufacturer conducting activities in Canada.

Permit applications are to be submitted to the Minister of the Environment:

By email: ec.produits-products-ec@ec.gc.ca

By mail:
Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Blvd 9th Floor
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3

To assist permit applicants, ECCC has prepared an example of a permit application that could be used (see Appendix 1).

A permit may be granted provided that the applicant:

Refer to section 4 of the Regulations for details on permits.

2.9.3 Time required to process a permit application

ECCC’s service standard for responding to permit applications is 90 days from the day the application is received, provided that all the required documentation is submitted.

Permit applicants will receive a letter from ECCC notifying them of the result of their permit application. If a permit is issued, the letter will indicate the start and end date of the permit. It will also indicate the permit number. If the permit is not issued, the letter will indicate the grounds for the refusal.

2.9.4 Permit expiration

As per subsection 5(3) of the Regulations, any permit granted will be valid for 3 years after the day on which it is issued. In order to have the permit renewed, the permit holder must submit a renewal application at least 90 days before the day on which the permit expires and must demonstrate that the permit conditions continue to be met.

3. Coming into force

As per section 17, the Regulations came into force on November 8, 2015, one year after the day on which they were registered.

4. Enforcement

ECCC’s enforcement officers undertake regular inspections in order to verify compliance with the requirements of CEPA and its regulations. Investigations are also conducted when an enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a violation has occurred.

The choice of the enforcement action is based on principles founded in law and framed by the criteria assessment defined in the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for CEPA.

5. Additional information

For more information related to the Regulations, please contact the Products Division at ECCC:

Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint Joseph Blvd 9th Floor
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3

Phone: 819-938-4483/1-888-391-3426 (information)
Fax: 819-938-4480/1-888-391-3695
Email: ec.products-produits.ec@ec.gc.ca

6. Appendices

This section provides an example permit application form and definitions to terms used in this document.

Appendix 1: sample permit application form

Note: this is not a mandatory form. It is intended to provide guidance.

Products Containing Mercury Regulations
Information to be contained in an application for a permit

Is this a submission of additional information requested by the minister?
◻ Yes   ◻ No

If yes, complete parts 1, 5 and any other parts of this application where additional information was requested. Previously reported information that is unchanged need not be resubmitted.

Is this permit a renewal application?   ◻ Yes   ◻ No

If yes, indicate the number of the permit _______________________


1. Applicant information

Name of applicant (for example, corporation):
________________________________________________________


Civic and postal addresses:
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________


Name and title of duly authorized representative:
________________________________________________________


Civic and postal addresses:
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________

Telephone:
________________________________________________________


Fax (if any):
________________________________________________________

Email (if any):
________________________________________________________


Telephone:
________________________________________________________


Fax (if any):
________________________________________________________

Email (if any):
________________________________________________________


2. Information respecting the product for which the application is made

Common or generic name Trade name
(if any)
Total quantity of mercury in the product (mg) Estimated quantity of products to be manufactured per calendar year
(number)
Estimated quantity of products to be imported per calendar year
(number)
         
   ◻

I am enclosing an identification and description of each known use of the product.

3. Declaration respecting the provision of information

   ◻

I am enclosing evidence that there are no technically or economically feasible alternatives to or substitute for the product that achieve a similar result as would be achieved by using the product containing mercury, and have a less harmful effect on the environment or on human health than the product containing mercury.


   ◻


I am enclosing a copy of the plan prepared identifying and describing the measures that will be taken by the applicant to minimize or eliminate any harmful effect that the mercury contained in the product has or may have on the environment and human health, including measures to ensure that the mercury is handled safely and is not released into the environment during the normal use of the product and at the end of its useful life.


   ◻


The plan will be fully implemented within 30 days after the day on which the permit is issued.


4. Civic and postal addresses of the location where information, supporting documents and the certification are kept

Civic and postal addresses:

______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________


5. I declare that the information in this application and in all enclosed documents is accurate and complete.

 

__________________________________
Date, place

________________________________________________________________
Signature of applicant or duly authorized representative

Appendix 2: definitions

Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL): a single-ended fluorescent lamp with a bent discharge tube of small diameter (10 to 16 mm) to form a very compact unit.

Straight fluorescent lamp for “general lighting purposes: a straight lamp, bulb or tube up to 50” in length that has a medium bi-pin or miniature bi-pin base, and that operates on an instant-start, rapid-start or programmed-start ballast, and that provides functional illumination for indoor residential, indoor commercial or outdoor use. A linear fluorescent lamp for general lighting purposes does not include any of the following example specialty lighting products: appliance, UV lamps, germicidal, greenhouse lamp and signs.

When describing straight fluorescent lamps, the letter “T” refers to their “tubular” shape. The number following the “T” indicates its thickness or diameter in eighths of an inch.

T5s are the most energy efficient, whereas T12 are the least efficient.

Lamp for “general lighting purposes”: a lamp, bulb or tube that provides functional illumination for indoor residential, indoor commercial and outdoor use.

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