Overview of the Existing Substances Program: executive summary

April 2007

Executive summary

The Government of Canada's environmental protection strategy is driven by a vision of sustainable development. This vision depends on a clean, healthy environment, and a strong economy.

Risk management of chemical substances that can harm human health or the environment is a key objective of this vision. Risk management ensures that any harmful effects of substances on the environment and human health are prevented or reduced. One of the primary tools used to prevent and reduce the threats posed by harmful substances is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). CEPA 1999 provides for the assessment and management of substances that can enter into the Canadian environment. It ensures the protection of the environment and of the health of Canadians from harmful substances and other pollutants. Risk managers use the results generated by risk assessments to develop suitable responses under CEPA 1999 to prevent or control the risks posed by substances.

Within Environment Canada, the Existing Substances Division represents the Department's expertise for ecological risk assessment of existing substances. Similarly, within Health Canada, the Existing Substances Division comprises a team of experts responsible for the assessment of potential risks for human health posed by substances. Jointly, they represent the Government of Canada's Existing Substances Program whose primary purpose is to identify, prioritize, and assess existing substances to determine which ones pose a risk to Canadians or the environment. Through various activities, Health Canada and Environment Canada provide a scientifically rigorous, open and transparent process for assessing the risks posed by existing substances in Canada. They also provide information that supports actions on chemical substances that ultimately protect human health and the environment.

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