Canada Acts to Strengthen Ban on Toxic Fire Retardants

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups
Contact: 

Lisa Gue | David Suzuki Foundation
613-594-5428
Elaine MacDonald | Ecojustice
416-368-7533 x27 (office)
Kathleen Cooper | Canadian Environmental Law Association
705-341-2488
Jennifer Foulds | Environmental Defence
416-323-9521 x232 (office)

Canada Acts to Strengthen Ban on Toxic Fire Retardants

Environmental groups welcome new strategy to eliminate PBDEs

OTTAWA, Ontario - Environmentalists are welcoming
a new federal strategy that outlines a comprehensive ban of toxic
polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs), a common flame retardant used in
consumer products.

“This comprehensive ban on all PBDEs in all consumer products marks a real step forward in Canada’s approach
to regulating toxic chemicals,” said Lisa Gue, environmental health
policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian
Environmental Law Association and Environmental Defence are welcoming the news
after having filed a formal Notice of Objection to federal toxic regulations
announced in 2006. Those regulations banned the import of two out of three PBDE
mixtures but exempted the most widely used mixture, known as DecaBDE.

The objection filed by the groups argued that the
government’s assessment of DecaBDE was outdated and called for a
comprehensive ban, which prompted Environment Canada to update its assessment
of DecaBDE. Based on the findings of this scientific review, the government
proposed a revised PBDE strategy to match European restrictions on DecaBDE in
electronics and now also bans PBDEs in plastics and textiles.

“The challenge ahead is for government
regulators to get ahead of the curve and ensure that PBDEs are replaced by
inherently safer products and processes,” said Kathleen Cooper of CELA.

PBDEs are known to build up in the food chain and have
been linked to cancer and effects on the developing brain and immune,
reproductive and hormonal systems.

“Until now, regulation of toxic substances in Canada has traditionally targeted
domestic manufacturing and has not extended to imported products, or targeted
only certain product types in the case of BPA in baby bottles and a proposal on
phthalates in children’s toys.

“Despite this positive result, it is
disappointing that we had to wait more than three years for action on this issue,”
said Elaine
MacDonald of Ecojustice. “But the government is finally
doing the right thing.”

“We are excited about the government’s
proposal and what this means for Canadians,” added Dr. Rick Smith,
Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “A huge congrats for
committing to get rid of these nasty substances.”

The major PBDE manufacturers announced last December,
after negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that they
would phase out production of DecaBDEs by 2013 – the same year Canada’s
regulations are scheduled to take effect.

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