Notice to stakeholders on the use of flame-retardant chemicals in certain consumer products in Canada

The purpose of this notice is to encourage Canadian manufacturers, importers, advertisers and sellers of consumer products to achieve compliance with the flammability performance requirements for certain consumer products set out in regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) without using flame-retardant chemicals.

SUMMARY

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its associated regulations

Consumer products, as defined in section 2 of the CCPSA, manufactured, imported, advertised or sold in Canada are subject to provisions under the CCPSA and its associated regulations. The CCPSA prohibits the manufacture, import, advertisement or sale of any consumer productFootnote 1 that is a "danger to human health or safety" (paragraphs 7(a) and 8(a) of the CCPSA). Additionally, the Textile Flammability Regulations, the Tents Regulations, the Textile Floor Coverings Regulations, the Toys Regulations, and the Children's Sleepwear Regulations, set flammability performance requirements to help protect the public from fire-related injury and death.

Prohibitions and restrictions for flame-retardant chemicals under the CCPSA

The function of flame-retardant chemicals is to slow the ignition and the spread of fire. The onus is on the regulated parties to determine how they will meet the flammability performance requirements while ensuring that their product is not a danger to human health or safety.

Compliance with the flammability performance requirements for certain consumer products set out in regulations under the CCPSA can be achieved without the use of flame-retardant chemicals.

Health Canada encourages the use of safe, non-chemical alternatives.

Some flame-retardant chemicals are harmful to human health when used in certain products based on how exposure to the chemical can occur. For example, tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate, also known as TCEP, is harmful to young children's health through oral exposure and is prohibited under the CCPSA in products made, in whole or in part, of polyurethane foam and that are intended for children under three years of age. Table 1 summarizes the current prohibitions and restrictions under the CCPSA and its regulations concerning the use of flame-retardant chemicals in certain consumer products.

In the absence of specific prohibitions and restrictions on the use of flame-retardant chemicals, regulated parties are encouraged to use safe, non-chemical alternatives to meet the flammability performance requirements.

Table 1. Summary of current prohibitions and restrictions concerning the use of flame-retardant chemicals under the CCPSA
Flame-Retardant Chemical Provision Prohibition or Restriction
Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate [TCEP] Item 16 of Schedule 2 to the CCPSA Prohibition on the manufacture, import, advertisement or sale of products that are made, in whole or in part, of polyurethane foam that contains tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate and that are intended for a child under three years of age.
Tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate [TDBPP] Item 10 of Schedule 2 to the CCPSA Prohibition on the manufacture, import, advertisement or sale of products made in whole or in part of textile fibres, intended for use as wearing apparel, that are treated with or contain tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate as a single substance or as part of a chemical compound.
All flame-retardant chemicals Subsection 3(2) of the Children's Sleepwear Regulations Loose-fitting sleepwear that is treated with a flame retardant, any component that is extracted or broken down from such treated sleepwear and any flame retardant that is used to treat the sleepwear must meet specific requirements that protect against acute and chronic toxicity.
Section 4 of the Children's Sleepwear Regulations Loose-fitting sleepwear that is treated with a flame retardant must meet specific labelling requirements.

Assessment of Flame-Retardant Chemicals under the Chemicals Management Plan

The CMP is a Government of Canada initiative aimed at reducing the risks posed by chemicals to Canadians and their environment. Recognizing the potential risks of flame-retardant chemicals in consumer products, the Government has assessed a number of substances with flame retardant uses under the CMP. When a risk to human health or the environment has been identified for several of these substances, appropriate regulatory actions have been taken under the CCPSA or the CEPA.

To date, 168 flame-retardant chemicals have been assessed or are being assessed under the CMP, 48 as existing priority substances, and 120 as part of the new substances regime under the CEPA. An additional 36 flame retardants already in the Canadian market have been identified as priorities for future reviewFootnote 2. Not all flame-retardant chemicals are found to be harmful to human health under the CMP.

Currently 14 flame-retardant chemicals are being assessed under the CMP. For example, the draft screening assessments for melamineFootnote 3, 2-propanol, 1,3-dichloro-, phosphate (3:1) (TDCPP)Footnote 4 and 2-propanol, and 1-chloro-, phosphate (3:1) (TCPP)Footnote 4 have been published and they propose to conclude that these substances are harmful to human health under the CEPA. It is also proposedFootnote 5Footnote 6, that risk management actions be taken to help reduce dermal exposure of these flame-retardant chemicals in certain consumer products made with polymeric foams, such as polyurethane foam used in upholstered furniture, mattresses, mattress toppers and other foam-based products with which prolonged skin contact may be possible.

Once a screening assessment is finalized and a chemical is found harmful to human health, appropriate risk management actions are considered by the Government of Canada to help protect the health or safety of the public. Industry members are encouraged to regularly monitor the on-line summary of the Government of Canada initiatives related to flame retardantsFootnote 7Footnote 8. Such monitoring will help industry members stay informed of CMP screening assessment conclusions and risk management strategies that may be put in place to help protect the health of the public.

Voluntary Actions for Industry

To support product innovation and to protect the health of Canadians, Health Canada encourages Canadian manufacturers, importers and sellers of consumer products to use safe and non-chemical alternatives to achieve compliance with the flammability performance requirements set out in the regulations mentioned above. Alternatives may include the use of inherently flame resistant materials (e.g., polyester, wool), chemical-free fire barrier systems, or a combination of these or other measures. The on-line Industry Guide to Flammability of Textile Products in Canada provides factors affecting textile flammability, such as fibre content, fabric construction, fabric weight, and fabric finishes. Industry members are encouraged to consider these factors when designing, constructing, and sourcing products and their components. Industry members are also encouraged to seek other insights from industry associations, product safety standards, or other sources.

To demonstrate supply chain transparency, Health Canada also encourages Canadian manufacturers, importers, advertisers and sellers to voluntarily disclose the chemicals used in the consumer products they supply in Canada, including any flame-retardant chemicals, when requested by individuals including distributors, retailers or the public.

For questions related to this Notice or to the CCPSA and its associated regulations, please contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office by phone 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States) or by email at hc.ccpsa-lcspc.sc@canada.ca.

Information resources

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Canada Consumer Product Safety Act Quick Reference Guide
Industry Guide to Flammability of Textile Products in Canada
Children's sleepwear: Flammability requirement guidelines
Industry Guide to Futon Flammability Requirements in Canada
Industry Guide to Canadian Requirements for Carpets and Other Textile Floor Coverings
Industry Guide to Health Canada's Safety Requirements for Children's Toys and Related Products
Chemicals Management Plan
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping
Summary of flame retardant assessments and management conducted under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
To subscribe for email updates about the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act

The general information provided in this communication is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the interpretation or application of the CCPSA and its associated regulations. It is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as technical or legal advice applicable to specific situations. In the case of any discrepancy between the general information in this publication and the Act or regulations, the Act and regulations will prevail. Please note that other federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws may also regulate consumer products or their use. Information about these laws may be obtained by contacting the relevant jurisdiction directly.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The CCPSA does not apply to consumer products listed in section 4 and in Schedule 1 of the Act. Examples of consumer products captured by the Act include upholstered furniture, mattresses and children's products, where they can be obtained by an individual and are to be used for non-commercial purposes.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/identification-risk-assessment-priorities-results-2019-review.html

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Footnote 3

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/updated-draft-screening-assessment-organic-flame-retardants-substance-grouping-melamine.html

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Footnote 4

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/updated-draft-screening-assessment-organic-flame-retardants-substance-grouping-tcpp-tdcpp.html

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/risk-management-scope-melamine.html

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/updated-risk-management-scope-tcpp-tdcpp.html

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/evaluating-existing-substances/summary-flame-retardant-assessments-management-conducted-cepa.html

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/subscribe.html

Return to footnote 8 referrer

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