08 December 2006 21:14 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (ICIS news)--Canada’s federal government put forward on Friday a Canadian dollars (C$) 300m ($260m/€200m) plan to tighten the regulation and assessment of chemicals that harm human health or the environment, and eliminate them if required.
The scheme has broadly the same objectives as Europe's Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) initiative but promises to be more effective, industry officials said.
“The Chemicals Management Plan we are unveiling today will make Canada a world leader in assessing and regulating chemicals that are used in thousands of industrial and consumer products," Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking in French, told a media briefing.
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The government’s plan expands the scope of chemicals which will have to undergo scientific risk assessment before they can be made or imported to “legacy chemicals - those introduced before 1994. Chemicals introduced after 1994 had to undergo scientific risk assessment in
In a first step,
Overall, some 23,000 legacy chemicals have not undergone risk assessment.
Harper said the plan would be expensive but that would be recouped in savings on health and environmental expenditure.
Gordon Lloyd, vice-president with Ottawa-based Canadian Chemicals Producers Association (CCPA) said in a telephone interview that the Canadian approach is more workable than Europe's Reach initiative.
Canada is prioritising chemicals with a focus on the most dangerous ones when requiring risk assessment whereas Europe's approach is too broad, Lloyd said. "They [Europe] are really bogged down," he added.
He said that there is probably an inventory of 4,000 legacy chemicals that will require thorough assessment. Canada's government appears to be setting reasonable timelines for industry to cope with the process, he said. "They need to challenge the industry, but at the same time stick to science," he added.
Canada has a relatively small number of legacy chemicals when compared with 70,000-100,000 legacy chemicals in Europe and the US, Lloyd said.
Canadian environmental groups said the plan marks an important step forward for pollution control in
One group, Environmental Defence, said that, among other items, the government’s plan includes mandatory timelines of three years to begin the regulatory process for some highly toxic chemicals and a commitment to virtually eliminate the most harmful chemicals.
Also included is a national bio-monitoring programme to monitor toxic chemicals in blood, similar to the programme run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group said.
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