Toxic substances list: asbestos

Asbestos (Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CAS RN) 1332-21-4) is a commercial term given to six 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)

Historically, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise. It was also used for fireproofing. While many uses have been phased out and alternatives are available, asbestos may still be found in products like:

  • cement and plaster
  • industrial furnaces and heating systems
  • building insulation
  • floor and ceiling tiles
  • house siding
  • car and truck brake pads
  • vehicle transmission components, such as clutches


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

Asbestos is currently managed under various federal Acts and Regulations. For example, the manufacture, importation, advertisement or sale of consumer products made of asbestos and certain high risk consumer products that are composed of or contain asbestos fibres are prohibited or strictly regulated under the Asbestos Product Regulations, made under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

The Asbestos Mines and Mills Release Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) were made to limit the concentration of asbestos fibres in gases emitted into the ambient air at asbestos mines or mills resulting from crushing, drying, or milling operations. Crocidolite asbestos is specified in Part 2 of the Export Control List in Schedule 3 to CEPA and its export is controlled through the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations under CEPA.

All forms of asbestos are listed under the Rotterdam Convention with the exception of chrysotile asbestos, which will be considered for inclusion by Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in Spring 2017. The Rotterdam Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment by establishing a "prior informed consent" procedure for listed chemicals. Through this procedure, Parties must not export a substance to another Party that has stated it does not consent to the import. Importing Parties may also give their consent to import with conditions that exporting Parties must meet

On December 17, 2016, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to develop regulations respecting asbestos was published in Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day comment period. The proposed regulations would seek to prohibit all future activities respecting asbestos and products containing asbestos, including the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, import and export. Although not stated within the Notice of Intent, the regulations will not address the mining and processing of mining residues. Comments received on the NOI have been considered in the development of the Consultation Document.

On December 17, 2016, a mandatory survey notice issued under section 71 of CEPA was published in Canada Gazette, Part I, requiring industry to submit information on the manufacture, import, export, and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos. The information gathered will inform the development of the proposed regulations, and will ensure that future decision-making is based on the best available information. Persons to whom the Notice applied were required to submit information no later than January 18, 2017.

On April 20, 2017, a Consultation Document describing the proposed regulatory approach to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos was published on the CEPA Environmental Registry. Stakeholders have until June 4, 2017 to provide information and comments on the approach. Feedback received in response to the Consultation Document will be considered in the development of the proposed regulations, expected to be published in Canada Gazette, Part I, in December 2017.

Risk Management Tools

Tool(s) developed to manage risks associated with the substance:

Risk Management Supporting Activities

Activities supporting the development or implementation of the risk management tool(s):

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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