Concentration of phosphorus in cleaning products regulations: information sheet

What is the purpose of the Regulations?

The purpose of the Regulations is to protect Canada's environment from the release of phosphorus from certain products that could contribute to the over-fertilization of freshwater ecosystems, and the growth of harmful algae blooms that are proliferating in Canada's lakes and rivers.

To whom do the Regulations apply?

The Regulations apply to the manufacturers and importers of laundry detergents, household dish-washing compounds (including hand dish-washing soap and automatic dish-washing detergents) and household cleaners. Cleaning products in transit through Canada are exempt from the requirements of the regulations.  

What is a household cleaner?

Household cleaners, for the purposes of the Regulations, include any cleaning product that is produced or intended primarily for domestic cleaning purposes, excluding laundry detergents and dish-washing compounds (which are subject to other limits), and metal cleaners and de-greasing compounds.

What does the household cleaner category include?

Examples of such cleaners would include, but not be limited to:

What are the phosphorus concentration limits in products, as specified in the Regulations?

The Regulations set the following phosphorus concentration limits* for the manufacture or import of specific products:

Phosphorus concentration limits in products: manufacture and importation
  Prior to July 1st, 2010 On/after July 1st, 2010
Household laundry detergents 2.2%* 0.5%*
Commercial and industrial laundry detergents 2.2%* 2.2%*
Household dish-washing compounds (including hand dish-washing soap and automatic dish-washing detergents) N/A** 0.5%*
Household cleaners N/A** 0.5%*

* All concentration limits, above, are expressed as a percentage by weight of elemental phosphorus.

**N/A - not applicable

What are the requirements for record keeping?

Manufacturers (for use or sale in Canada) and importers must maintain manufacturing and importation records:

Requirements for record keeping: manufacture and importation
Activity Records to be maintained
Manufacture or importation
  • Brand name of each laundry detergent, household dish-washing compound or household cleaner containing phosphorus
  • Name and civic address of the principal place of business of the manufacturer or of the importer
  • Quantity of each of the cleaning products shipped from each manufacturing plant
  • Name and civic address of the recipient of each cleaning product that was shipped or sold
  • Port of entry where each cleaning product is imported
  • Name and civic address of the sender of each cleaning product
  • Date of import
  • Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System number for the cleaning product that is imported
  • Importer number for the shipment of the cleaning product that is imported

Records must be kept for a period of five years after the day on which the records are made.

How to stay informed?

A copy of the Regulations may be obtained from the Justice Canada website.

Questions and inquiries may be directed to Environment and Climate Change Canada:
Toll Free: 1-888-391-3426
National Capital Region: 819-938-4483

Alternative contact: Environment Canada Regional Compliance Promotion Office

Disclaimer: This document is for information purposes only and does not in any way supersede or modify the Concentration of Phosphorus in Certain Cleaning Products Regulations, or offer any legal interpretation of those Regulations.

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