The Canadian Food Inspection Agency takes action to address forever chemicals in the environment
May 19, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario
In keeping with its mandate to protect the health and safety of Canadians and the environment, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is initiating the process to implement an interim standard for domestic and imported biosolids contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or "forever chemicals" sold in Canada as commercial fertilizers.
This direction follows today's release of the draft state of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) report, which provides a preliminary assessment of the risks that these substances may pose to the environment and human health. The Government of Canada's intention is to move forward with activities to reduce environmental and human exposure to PFAS, including controls for PFAS in firefighting foams.
The CFIA, for its part, based on the available science, intends to implement an interim standard of less than 50 parts per billion of Perflurooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) for all domestic and imported biosolids intended for use as commercial fertilizers.
PFOS is a chemical in the PFAS class, also known as forever chemicals. There are currently no standards for PFAS in biosolids in Canada, but the level of contamination can be managed through controls at the source, and how biosolids are used.
In the coming months, the CFIA will work with stakeholders and provincial governments to develop an implementation plan for the proposed standard and on detailed guidance for importers, producers and commercial users of biosolids. Outcomes of the engagements will be concluded in the fall which will allow us to continue the process towards implementation.
The proposed new limits for PFAS in biosolids used as a commercial fertilizer in Canada will give Canadian agricultural producers confidence that products imported and sold in Canada can be used safely on their fields. This will help protect the environment and food safety.
Diverting biosolids from landfills and incineration has environmental and agronomic benefits, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the use of synthetic fertilizers in agriculture.
Today's announcement is part of the government's efforts to address the presence of forever chemicals in the environment to protect the health of Canadians and the safety of Canadian agriculture.
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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) touches the lives of all Canadians in so many positive ways. Each day, hard-working CFIA employees—including inspectors, veterinarians, and scientists—inspect food for safety risks, protect plants from pests and invasive species, and respond to animal diseases that could threaten Canada's national herd and human health. Guided by science-based decision-making and modern regulations, the Agency works tirelessly to ensure access to safe and healthy food in Canada and support access to international markets for our high-quality agricultural products. To learn more, visit inspection.canada.ca.
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