Toxic substances list: PFOS
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and its precursors all belong to the larger class of fluorochemicals referred to as perfluorinated alkyl compounds which contain carbon atoms that are completely saturated by fluorine. It is the strength of the carbon-fluorine bonds that contributes to the extreme stability and unique properties of these perfluorochemicals.
PFOS, its salts and its precursors are not manufactured in Canada. Since the voluntary phase-out of the production of these substances by the primary supplier in the United States in 2002, importations have been significantly limited.
On July 1, 2006, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health published, in Part I of the Canada Gazette, their final decision on the assessment of PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds. The ecological screening assessment concluded that PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds are or may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity. The human health assessment concluded that current levels of PFOS exposure are below levels which might affect human health. Based on the conclusions of the assessment of PFOS, an Order was published in Part II of the Canada Gazette adding PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). On December 16, 2006, the proposed Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The final Regulations were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on June 11, 2008.
The purpose of the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations is to protect Canada's environment from the use and release of PFOS, its salts and its precursors. Currently, the Regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of PFOS and products containing PFOS. Exemptions are provided for the use of PFOS-based aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) if the concentration of PFOS is below 0.5 parts per million and the use, sale and offer for sale of products containing PFOS that were manufactured or imported before May 29, 2008 if the product is a manufactured item that was formed into a specific physical shape or design during its manufacture and that has, for its final use, a function or functions dependent in whole or in part on its shape or design, as well as the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of photoresists or anti-reflective coatings for photolithography process and photographic films, papers and printing plates.
On January 13, 2009, the Regulations Adding Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and its Salts to the Virtual Elimination List were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The Regulations add PFOS and its salts to the Virtual elimination List compiled under subsection 65(2) of CEPA. The Regulations demonstrate the Government of Canada’s continuing commitment to virtually eliminate PFOS and to meet the requirements of the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination Act, which received Royal Assent on April 17, 2008.
The Government's Consultation Document on the Examination of On-going Exemptions for PFOS its salts and certain other compounds was published on January 4, 2013 for a 60-day public comment period. Comments received were considered during the update of the risk management measures for PFOS.
The Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 include controls for PFOS and were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on October 5, 2016. The proposed Amendments maintain similar regulatory requirements for PFOS and revise exemptions. The Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds are repealed when the amended Regulations come into force.
In 2009, PFOS was added to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). For information on Canada's international engagement on this substance, please visit Environment and Climate Change Canada's website on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Sites from international organizations (note: these sites are external to the Government of Canada).
For more information on this substance, please visit the Chemical Substances website.
- Ecological Screening Assessment Report on Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, Its Salts and Its Precursors that Contain the C8F17SO2 or C8F17SO3 or C8F17SO2N Moiety (HTML)
- PFOS Health Canada Screening Assessment Report
- CEPA Schedule 1 - List of Toxic Substances - This substance has been added to the List of Toxic Substances. It is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:
a) have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity.
This substance is entering the environment from the following source(s):
Risk management strategy
Click on the following link to view strategies and actions recommended to manage risks associated with the substance:
Risk management tool(s)
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):
Consultation (past and present) on the substance:
- Response to comments on the proposed Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulation, 2012 (October 2016)
- Response to comments on the Consultation Document on the Examination of On-going Exemptions for PFOS its salts and certain other compounds (April 2015)
- Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations- Examination of On-going Exemptions
- Draft of the Update to the National Implementation Plan under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for public comment.
- Proposed Risk Management Strategy for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), Its Salts and Its Precursors
- Proposed Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations
- Response to Comments on the Notice of Intent to recommend export controls for perfluorooctane sulfonate, its salts (PFOS) and lindane
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