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.

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.

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).

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 were repealed when the amended Regulations come into force on December 25, 2016.

On October 13, 2018, a Notice of intent to amend the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 was published in Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day public comment period. These amendments would seek to further restrict the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of certain toxic substances including PFOS. Comments received on the NOI will be considered in the development of proposed regulations to amend the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012.

For more information on this substance, please visit the Chemical Substances website.

Risk assessment

Source(s)

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Risk management strategy

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Contact

Chemicals Management Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351, St-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3
E-mail: ec.interdiction-prohibition.ec@canada.ca

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