Certain products and volatile organic compounds

The term "certain products" is used to categorize the following products used in households and by institutional and commercial consumers:

  • personal care
  • automotive and household maintenance products
  • adhesives, adhesive removers, sealants and caulks
  • other miscellaneous products

The regulations

On January 5, 2022, the Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II: Vol. 156, No. 1 – January 5, 2022. The regulations apply to manufacturers and importers and establish concentration limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in approximately 130 product categories and subcategories.

VOCs constitute one of the main ingredients in the formation of ground-level ozone, which contributes to the formation of smog. The objective of the regulations is to protect the environment and health of Canadians from the effects of air pollution by reducing VOC emissions.  

On July 6, 2019 the proposed Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 75-day public comment period. Comments received on this publication were considered in development of the final regulations.

Key elements of the regulations

The regulations establish maximum VOC concentration limits and emission potentials for the manufacture and import of over 130 categories and subcategories of products. The regulations prohibit the manufacture and import of products with VOCs in excess of their respective category-specific limits, unless a permit is obtained.

The types of products covered include personal care products; automotive and household maintenance products; adhesives, adhesive removers, sealants and caulks; and other miscellaneous products.

The regulations include three alternative compliance options to provide flexibility in complying with the regulations. These include:

  • Permit - Technical or Economic Non-Feasibility
  • Permit - Product Whose Use Results in Lower VOC Emissions
  • VOC Compliance Unit Trading System that allows companies to balance emissions from products that exceed the concentration limits with compliance units earned from products that were reformulated to have VOC concentration lower than the regulatory limits. The program also allows companies to trade compliance units with other companies.

Implementation of the regulations

The Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations, made under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, come into force on January 1, 2023, to allow for the application for permits and the building of compliance units one year in advance of the coming into force of the product limits.

Maximum VOC Concentration Limits and Emission Potentials for the manufacture and import of products listed in the schedules to the regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2024, for all product categories, except disinfectants, which come into effect on January 1, 2025.

The regulations and Canadian businesses

The regulations apply to any person who manufactures or imports products that contain VOCs and belong to one of the regulated product categories or subcategories.

The regulations do not require regulatees to submit reports or conduct product testing to comply with the regulations. However, the onus is on regulatees to ensure that the products they import, or manufacture meet the regulatory limits. The determination of VOC concentration for the purposes of these regulations must be performed by an accredited laboratory.

Manufacturers and importers of a regulated product are required to indicate, on the product container, the date on which the product was manufactured or a code representing that date.

Manufacturers and importers of a regulated product are also required to keep records regarding regulated products in Canada for a period of at least 5 years.

Related links

Volatile organic compounds in products overview

About environmental and wildlife enforcement

Response to comments received on the 2013 consultation document

Consultation document: revisions to the proposed volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration limits for certain products regulations (January 2013) (available in PDF format - 215 KB)

Contact us

Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
1-888-391-3426 (toll free) or 819-938-4483
Email: Produits-Products@ec.gc.ca

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