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Chemicals are an integral part of everyday life, essential to our economy, our communities and our homes. While chemical substances provide benefits, they may also have harmful effects on human health and the environment if not properly managed. The Government of Canada created the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) in 2006. The CMP builds on previous initiatives to protect human health and the environment by assessing chemicals used in Canada and by taking action on chemicals found to be harmful. Delivered jointly by Environment Canada and Health Canada through partnership and engagement with stakeholders, the CMP helps protect Canadians and their environment from the harmful effects of chemical substances.
The CMP assesses environmental and human health risks posed by chemical substances, and develops and implements measures to prevent or manage those risks. It does so by using the most appropriate management tools from a broad suite of federal laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Pest Control Products Act, and others.
In 2006, the Government of Canada completed a triage of some 23,000 chemicals that had been in commercial use during the previous two decades. That triage process identified 4,300 substances for further attention. The goal of the CMP is to address all 4,300 of those substances by 2020.
Furthermore, prior to the introduction of substances new to Canada, the Government assesses and, when necessary, manages any potential risks to Canadians and their environment.
This figure sums up the chemicals management cycle.
CMP risk assessors conduct scientific evaluations to identify potential environmental and health risks from the generation, transportation, use and disposal of substances. This assessment allows the government to determine if some form of management of the substance is needed.
Some substances can have harmful short- or long-term effects. In these cases, the government develops measures to prevent or manage those risks. The CMP tailors these measures to the substance and the risks it poses. Risk management actions may include restrictions on how a chemical substance can be used; how it is made; or the amount or concentration that can be released into the environment. A suite of risk management measures under different federal statutes is available, including regulations, agreements, pollution prevention notices, labelling requirements, guidelines and codes of practice.
The government ensures that businesses and other organizations are aware of and comply with applicable risk management obligations.
The government invests in research and monitoring, including biomonitoring, to provide essential information about chemical exposures and their effects on human health and the environment. These data provide the basis for developing sound and effective public health and environmental health policies and interventions, as well as for measuring the efficacy of control measures.
Engaging stakeholders and the public is central to the CMP. Stakeholders remain informed and contribute to CMP through regular public information sessions and consultations. In addition, the CMP Stakeholder Advisory Council offers advice and input from industry, non-governmental organizations and Aboriginal groups on the implementation of the plan. Outreach to the public is key to ensuring that Canadians understand information on the risks and safe use of chemicals.
It is important to base decisions on the best available information. The government collects information to support risk assessment and risk management decisions using a variety of approaches, such as information-gathering requirements issued under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, voluntary information-gathering initiatives conducted in cooperation with industry, as well as research, monitoring and surveillance and international cooperation activities.
The government works with industry, academics, other stakeholders and other governments, both domestically and internationally, to share information, avoid duplication and work towards the sound management of chemicals globally.
The Chemical Substances website provides information on all activities related to the CMP, including opportunities for the public to comment on all significant documents and decisions, and how to participate in information sessions. Subscribe to receive the latest news when updates are posted on the website.