Toxic substances list: asbestos

Asbestos (Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CAS RN) 1332-21-4) is a commercial term given to certain naturally occurring minerals that are incombustible and separable into filaments, including:

  • Chrysotile (CAS RN 12001-29-5)
  • Amosite (CAS RN 12172-73-5)
  • Crocidolite (CAS RN 12001-28-4)
  • Anthophyllite (CAS RN 77536-67-5)
  • Tremolite (CAS RN 77536-68-6)
  • Actinolite (CAS RN 77536-66-4)

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Historically, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise. It was also used for fireproofing. Asbestos may be present in products that were installed in Canada prior to the coming into force of the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations, such as in building materials.

For more information on how can you be exposed to asbestos, please consult the Health Risks of Asbestos webpage.

Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations

The Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations (the Regulations) and the related amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR) were published in Canada Gazette, Part II on October 17, 2018. The Regulations and related amendments to the ESECLR will take effect on December 30, 2018.

The Regulations prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, as well as the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos, with a limited number of exclusions. The Regulations also contain permit provisions for specific applications.

In most cases, people performing an excluded activity, and permit holders, are subject to reporting and record-keeping requirements, and must implement an asbestos management plan.

As the Regulations are more stringent than existing controls, the Asbestos Products Regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act will be repealed once the Regulations are in force.

For more information on the Regulations including guidance material, please consult the Regulations on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Registry.

Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations

The amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR) added new provisions to prohibit the export of asbestos, whether or not it is contained in a product, with specific exceptions in line with those in place under the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations. These provisions ensure that Canada continues to meet its export obligations under international conventions, including the Rotterdam Convention. An Order to amend the Export Control List listed all forms of asbestos, making them subject to the amended regulations.

For more information on the ESECLR including guidance material, please consult the ESECLR on the CEPA registry.

Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment by facilitating information exchange between Parties and establishing a "prior informed consent" procedure for listed chemicals.

All forms of asbestos are listed under the Rotterdam Convention with the exception of chrysotile asbestos, which was considered for inclusion by Parties to the Convention in the spring of 2017. As consensus was not reached by the Parties, the listing of chrysotile asbestos will be considered again at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention scheduled for 2019.

Through the Regulations and related amendments to the ESECLR, Canada is going beyond its commitment under the Rotterdam Convention by prohibiting, with certain exceptions, the import and export of all forms of asbestos (including chrysotile), whether or not it is contained in a product, and ensuring that information regarding asbestos is shared with all importing countries, regardless of whether they are Party to the Convention.

Contact

Chemicals Management Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
E-mail: ec.amiante-asbestos.ec@canada.ca

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