Toxic substances list
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) provides the Government of Canada instruments including regulations to protect the environment and human health, and establishes strict timelines for managing substances found toxic under the act. Substances that are determined to be "toxic" under CEPA are recommended for addition to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) of the act. Preventive or control actions such as regulations, guidelines or codes of practice, are then considered for any aspect of the substance's life cycle from the research and development stage through manufacture, use, storage, transport and ultimate disposal or recycling. Furthermore, substances determined to be "toxic", persistent, bioaccumulative, anthropogenic, and which are not naturally occurring radionuclides or naturally occurring inorganic substances shall be proposed for implementation of virtual elimination under Section 65 (3) of CEPA.
Determining what is toxic
Under CEPA, both the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Health are responsible for developing a list of substances which must be assessed in a timely manner to determine if they are "toxic" or capable of becoming "toxic". This list is known as the Priority Substances List (PSL). CEPA requires that substances on the PSL be assessed within 5 years of their addition to the list. Environment Canada and Health Canada have a legal obligation to determine if these PSL substances are "toxic" as defined in Section 64 of the act. "Toxic" is defined in terms of risks that substances pose to the environment or to human health.
A substance that is found to be "toxic" under section 64 of CEPA - through a Priority Substances List assessment of the substance, a screening assessment, or the review of a decision by another jurisdiction - is recommended for addition to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) of CEPA.
Substances may also be added to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of CEPA through section 90(1) of the act without having gone through a Priority Substances List assessment, a screening assessment, or the review of another jurisdiction's decision if, on the recommendation of the ministers of Environment and Health, the Governor in Council is satisfied that a substance is toxic. A substance is "CEPA-toxic equivalent" if it satisfies the definition of "CEPA-toxic" as a result of a systematic, risk-based assessment. Such assessments can include determinations made under other federal statutes, or can incorporate appropriate elements of assessments done by or for provinces or territories, international organizations or other appropriate scientific authorities.
The updated Schedule 1 of CEPA includes substances considered "toxic" as a result of:
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