Management of toxic substances: PFOS regulations fact sheet

Effective December 23, 2016, the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations (SOR/2008-178) were repealed. Please note that these substances are now controlled under the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Impacts

Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and its precursors all belong to the larger group of fluorochemicals called perfluorinated alkyl (PFA) compounds. PFOS may be entering into the environment under conditions that have a harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity. Furthermore, PFOS and its salts are persistent and present a risk of bioaccumulation (i.e. accumulating in individual organisms) and biomagnification (i.e. accumulating in the food chain) in wildlife.

Why Are Regulations Necessary?

The purpose of the PFOS Regulations is to protect Canada's environment from the risks associated with the use and release of PFOS.

Potential PFOS Use

  1. In some fume suppressants used in the metal plating sector.
  2. In some firefighting foams used for fighting fuel-related fires (aqueous film-forming foams [AFFF]).
  3. In other miscellaneous products, including some:
    • photographic films, papers and printing plates;
    • aviation hydraulic fluids;
    • photoresists or anti-reflective coatings for photolithography processes.

What Are Key Provisions of the Regulations?

The PFOS Regulations prohibit the manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale and use of PFOS or products containing PFOS, unless incidentally present, with certain exemptions.

1. Fume Suppressants

Activities permitted until May 29, 2013, and prohibited thereafter:

The use, sale and import of a PFOS-based fume suppressant if used in:

  • Chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing and reverse etching;
  • Electroless nickel-polytetrafluoroethylene plating;
  • Etching of plastic substrates prior to their metallization.

2. Aqueous Film-Forming Foams

Activities permitted at all times include:

  • Use of AFFF containing PFOS if the PFOS concentration is less than or equal to 0.5 ppm;
  • Use or importation of AFFF containing PFOS in a military vessel or military fire-fighting vehicle contaminated during foreign military operations occurring after May 29, 2008;
  • Use of AFFF containing PFOS in a military vessel deployed before May 29, 2013, for military operations.

Activity permitted until May 29, 2013, and prohibited thereafter:

  • Use of AFFF containing PFOS manufactured or imported before May 29, 2008, for purposes other than for training or testing.

3. Miscellaneous Products

Activities permitted at all times:

  • Manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale or use of the following products containing PFOS:
    1. Photoresists or anti-reflective coatings for photolithography processes;
    2. Photographic films, papers and printing plates;
  • Import, sale, offer for sale or use of aviation hydraulic fluid containing PFOS;
  • Sale, offer for sale or use of a product containing PFOS that is formed into a specific design during its manufacture and that has, for its final use, a function dependent on its design is permitted if the product was manufactured or imported before May 29, 2008.

Who Should Report Under the Regulations and What Are the Timelines?

Every person importing a PFOS-based fume suppressant must submit an annual report to Environment Canada, no later than March 31st of the calendar year following the year during which the PFOS-based fume suppressant was imported. The report must contain the information set out in the Schedule of the PFOS Regulations.

For More Information

Please consult the Regulations on the CEPA Registry website, at www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa. Further information can also be obtained by contacting Environment Canada at 1-800-567-1999 or by email at ec.SPFO-PFOS.ec@ec.gc.ca


Disclaimer:

This document is issued for information purposes only, should not be considered legal advice, and does not include all legal requirements. If there is any inconsistency or conflict between the information contained in this document and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 or the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations, the Act or Regulations take precedence.

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