Information gathering

Information gathering involves collecting information on a substance or group of substances from a variety of published and unpublished sources, stakeholders and various databases.  The collection and analysis of this information is essential for making science and regulatory-based decisions regarding the risk assessment and risk management of substances under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) in Canada.

View ongoing information gathering initiatives.

Sources of information

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC) collect scientific data (for example, toxicological studies) and commercial activity information (for example, substance use and quantities) from a variety of sources and mechanisms, which may include:

  • Publicly available information: An extensive literature search is conducted to collect critical studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals on properties, hazard and exposure to substances, as well as obtaining information through sources such as databases, trade journals, and safety data sheets.
  • Interested stakeholders and associations: Information may be gathered by working in collaboration with stakeholders and associations.
    • Inventory updates: Through the mandatory information gathering provisions under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the Government of Canada (GoC) regularly obtains updated information on the commercial status of substances.
    • Voluntary information gathering approaches: Information can be shared through direct follow up with those known to be engaged with substances on a voluntary basis.
    • Mandatory information gathering provisions under CEPA 1999: Several sections of CEPA 1999, such as sections 46, 70 and 71, allow the GoC to collect information from industry and other individuals regarding their activities with substances, as well as other available toxicological information that informs assessment. Under the CMP, the GoC has used these authorities under CEPA 1999, along with broader approaches and stakeholder engagement, to collect information on the commercial status of existing substances and certain other information required for risk assessments. Section 71 may also be used to require the generation of data, such as toxicological tests. Section 70 puts the onus on industry to provide information in their possession that reasonably supports the conclusion that a substance is toxic or capable of becoming toxic as defined under section 64 of CEPA 1999.
    • New substances provisions under CEPA 1999: For substances that are new to Canada, industry is required to provide specific information to the New Substances Program as required by the New Substances Notification Regulations under CEPA 1999.
  • ECCC and HC research, monitoring & surveillance activities: The GoC invests in research, monitoring and surveillance, including biomonitoring, to provide essential information about chemical exposures and their effects on human health and the environment. This information can inform priority setting, as well as risk assessment and risk management activities.
  • Information available from other federal programs: Information on substances is also available through other programs within the federal government. Some programs have their own respective databases that provide pertinent information on substances which can inform CMP activities. For example, the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CMHS) prepared by Statistics Canada is a source for information relevant to the health of Canadians. Other federal departments such as Natural Resources Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada may have data for use in risk assessments.
  • Other regulatory jurisdictions: Information is also available in other jurisdictions, including other provincial/territorial government departments, which could be shared through agreements. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), can often provide information that informs risk assessment.

How the information is used for risk assessment

The GoC carefully reviews scientific information collected for its quality and relevance to the Canadian context in order to determine critical information for risk assessment. To determine the quality of a study, certain aspects such as the methodology, reproducibility, as well as experimental/modelling conditions are reviewed to determine how the data should be considered. For the information related to exposure assessment, Canadian studies are typically given more weight than studies conducted in other countries.

In some instances, information submitted under CEPA 1999 to support risk assessments may be identified as confidential business information (CBI). CBI is considered in risk assessment decision-making but is protected in public documents in order to maintain confidentiality. To allow the highest possible level of transparency to stakeholders and the public in risk assessment documents, CBI should only be claimed for information that is truly confidential.

How the information is used for risk management

Information gathering to support risk management can also look beyond substances and groups of substances. For example, it can collect information on sectors, processes, products or activities involving substances; technologies and techniques for pollution prevention or control; and socio-economics.  Available information is taken into consideration when:

  • Identifying risk management options and selecting risk management actions to address sources of risk;
  • Developing and designing risk management instruments or amendments to existing instruments;
  • Consulting with stakeholders and implementing compliance promotion and outreach;
  • Conducting performance measurement; or
  • Identifying whether there are new sources of exposure that may require risk management.

Information on risk management activities scheduled to occur during the next two years for substances managed under the Chemicals Management Plan, including opportunities for stakeholder consultations and engagement, is available through the Two-year Rolling Risk Management Activities and Consultations Schedule.

Work plan: information gathering under the Chemicals Management Plan

The Two-year Rolling Information Gathering Plan is intended to provide stakeholders with an overview of potential upcoming information gathering activities. This includes the time periods during which mandatory surveys (section 71 Notices) may be published and the planned voluntary data gathering outreach begins. Information gathering initiatives are timed to inform priority-setting, risk assessment and risk management activities.  Additional information gathering activities will be included in the plan as required.
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