Perfluorocarboxylic acids and their precursors : environmental performance agreement overview

Note: This agreement is no longer in effect.

This environmental performance agreement (the agreement) was in effect March 30, 2010 to December 31, 2015

For a copy of the agreement, email: ec.epa-epe.ec@canada.ca

Objective

The agreement was a key component of the comprehensive risk management of perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCA)s. The objective of the agreement was to have participating companies:

  • work towards the elimination of residual perfluorooctanoic acid  (PFOA), residual long-chain PFCAs and residual precursors in their perfluorochemical products sold in Canada
  • collect and report information on their perfluorochemical products sold in Canada that contained PFOA, long-chain PFCAs and precursors (residual and non-residual)

Signatories

The agreement was negotiated between Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Health Canada and the following four companies from the perfluorinated products industry:

  • Arkema Canada Inc.
  • Asahi Glass Company Ltd.
  • Clariant Canada Inc.
  • E.I. du Pont Canada Company

Key requirements  

As a result of the agreement, participating companies voluntarily committed to:

  • reducing by 95% the product content levels of residual PFOA, long-chain PFCAs and their precursors in their perfluorochemical products sold in Canada by December 31, 2010
  • working towards eliminating the remaining 5% of these substances in the products by December 31, 2015
  • reporting annually to ECCC information on the residual and non-residual (i.e., active ingredient) content of their perfluorochemical products sold in Canada

Performance results

All four of the participating companies were successful in meeting the agreement's key requirements.

The data received from the 2010 reporting year indicated that significant progress had been made in reaching the interim targets set out in the agreement. Between 2011 and 2015, the data submitted indicates that all companies had met their commitment to eliminate residual PFOA, residual long-chain PFCAs and residual precursors in their perfluorochemical products sold in Canada, by the end of 2015.

Next steps

On October 5, 2016, the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 was amended to prohibit the use, sale, offer for sale and import of PFOA and long-chain PFCAs. This prohibition also applies to products containing them, unless contained in manufactured items. Time-limited exemptions and ongoing permitted uses are allowed for certain uses where the development of alternatives is underway or where there are currently no known alternatives. This measure aims at ensuring that these substances are not re-introduced into the Canadian market.

Background information

PFCAs and their precursors are used as:

  • fluoropolymer processing aids
  • water and grease repellents for material such as paper, fabric, leather and carpets
  • sizing agents for packaging and paper products
  • agents in coatings

In June 2006, ECCC and Health Canada published an Action Plan for the Assessment and Management of Perfluorinated Carboxylic Acids and their Precursors in the Canada Gazette. The Action Plan stated that the government would seek action from industry to significantly reduce residual PFCA precursors that were present in certain substances already in Canadian commerce and that the government would work with stakeholders to establish details for this action, including timelines and reduction targets.

The agreement was developed to meet this commitment. EECCC, Health Canada and four companies from the perfluorinated products industry negotiated this agreement, in recognition of industry's commitment to significantly reduce residual PFCAs and their precursors. Through the agreement, industry initiated early action on long-chain PFCAs, PFOA and their precursors before regulatory assessments for these substances were completed.

On August 25, 2012, the Government of Canada published the final screening assessment reports on PFOA (C8) its salts and precursors, and long-chain (C9 –C20) PFCAs, their salts and precursors. These final screening assessment reports concluded that:

  • PFOA, its salts and its precursors, and long-chain PFCAs, their salts and their precursors, are entering or may be entering the environment in a quantity or a concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity
  • PFOA and its salts, and long-chain PFCAs, and their salts are extremely persistent and meet the criteria for persistence, but do not meet the criteria for bioaccumulation as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations
    • despite this conclusion, the weight of evidence is sufficient to conclude that both PFOA, and its salts, and long-chain PFCAs and their salts accumulate and biomagnify in terrestrial and marine mammals
  • PFOA and its salts are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health

Long-chain PFCAs, their salts and their precursors have not yet been assessed for risk to human health. It was considered important to publish the ecological Screening Assessment Report in order to initiate the implementation of risk management measures. It also fulfilled the government's commitment to assess PFCAs under the Perfluorinated Carboxylic Acids (PFCAs) and Precursors: An Action Plan for Assessment and Management.

Related information

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Email: ec.epa-epe.ec@canada.ca

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