Asbestos

There are several minerals commonly known as asbestos. These minerals have historically been used to make products strong, long-lasting and fire-resistant. Before 1990, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise. It was also used for fireproofing. Industry, construction and commercial sectors have used, and, in some cases, may continue to use, asbestos in products like:

  • cement and plaster
  • industrial furnaces and heating systems
  • building insulation
  • floor and ceiling tiles
  • house siding
  • car and truck brake pads
  • vehicle transmission components, such as clutches

The Government of Canada recognizes that breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases. The Government is taking action by developing proposed regulations to help protect Canadians from asbestos exposure.

Proposed regulations prohibiting asbestos

On January 6, 2018 , the proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations and the proposed Regulations Amending the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 75-day public comment period ending on March 22, 2018. Comments and information received during the public comment period will be considered in the development of the final regulations, targeted for publication in the fall of 2018.

The proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations would prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, as well as the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos, with some exceptions.

The proposed Regulations Amending the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations would add new provisions to prohibit (with some exceptions) the export of asbestos and products containing asbestos, in line with the proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations and ensure that Canada is compliant with its export obligations under international conventions, including the Rotterdam Convention. A proposed order to amend the Export Control List would list all forms of asbestos, making them subject to the amended regulations.

As the proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations would be more stringent than existing regulatory controls under the Asbestos Products Regulations made under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, the Asbestos Products Regulations would be repealed.

Consultation document

In April 2017, Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada published a consultation document on the proposed regulatory approach to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos.

The objective of this consultation document was to inform stakeholders of the proposed regulatory approach, solicit their comments and request additional information. Comments and submissions were requested by June 4, 2017.

Comments and information received in response to the consultation document were considered in the development of the proposed regulations.

Notice of intent to develop regulations respecting asbestos

In December 2016, a notice of intent was issued in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 150, No. 51 - December 17, 2016 indicating that the Department of the Environment and the Department of Health were initiating the development of proposed regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). These new regulations would seek to prohibit all future activities respecting asbestos and products containing asbestos, including, the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, import and export. There was a 30-day consultation period associated with this publication. Comments received on this publication were considered in the development of the consultation document.

Mandatory section 71 notice

In December 2016, a notice was issued in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 150, No. 51 - December 17, 2016 under section 71 of CEPA 1999. The notice applied to all 6 types of asbestos: crocidolite asbestos, chrysotile asbestos, amosite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos and tremolite asbestos. Every person to whom the notice applied was required to comply no later than January 18, 2017.

The purpose of the section 71 notice was to obtain information on the manufacture, import, export and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos for the 2013 to 2015 calendar years, as well as socio-economic information. This data was considered in the development of the regulations and will ensure that future decision-making is based on the best available information.

Background

Asbestos is currently on the List of Toxic Substances found in Schedule 1 to CEPA 1999, and the listing covers all 6 types of asbestos. Current regulatory controls focus on mining, some high risk consumer products, and workplace exposure. These include the Asbestos Products Regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Asbestos Mines and Mills Release Regulations under CEPA 1999.

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