Health Canada Begins Consultation on Proposed New Requirements for Consumer Chemical Products under the CCPSA
Health Canada has begun a consultation on a proposal to introduce new requirements for consumer chemical products under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Health Canada states that many substances found in consumer chemical products, like household cleaning products, have been linked to human health hazards of concern (HHHOC) such as carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants. The proposed new requirements include the introduction of classification criteria for HHHOCs, information disclosure requirements, and additional protections for the health and safety of people in Canada. Health Canada will use the public comments to inform next steps, which may include a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal and future consultations. Health Canada notes that any future regulatory proposal would be pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for further stakeholder consultation. Comments are due October 9, 2023.
Prior to 2001, Canada had not yet established harmonized classification criteria for HHHOCs. At the international level, the United Nations (UN) was developing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in parallel to Canada’s development of the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001 (CCCR, 2001). Health Canada states that as the development of the GHS would take additional years to be completed, at that time, it prioritized implementing the CCCR, 2001 to protect Canadians from the high potential risks of acute human health and physical hazards posed by consumer chemical products. According to Health Canada, it consulted stakeholders who agreed that Health Canada should proceed with publishing the CCCR, 2001 without waiting for the UN GHS to be completed. Health Canada recognized that regulatory requirements for HHHOCs could be introduced once the UN GHS was published in final.
According to Health Canada, since publication of the CCCR, 2001, the scientific evidence available to support the longer-term risks posed by some HHHOCs in consumer chemical products has continued to evolve, along with the establishment of the UN GHS. These provide the opportunity for Canada to introduce requirements for HHHOCs. To help protect the public from certain HHHOCs in consumer chemical products and support the government’s commitments, Health Canada states that it is considering a regulatory initiative under the CCPSA that would mandate information disclosure and other requirements for HHHOCs in consumer chemical products.
Health Canada notes that requirements for HHHOCs in consumer chemical products are already in place in Europe and the United States, which are Canada’s largest trade partners with respect to consumer chemical products. The United States does not use the classification criteria or elements for labeling based on the UN GHS model for consumer products, although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does somewhat address chronic hazards. The European Union (EU) does use its version of UN GHS, Regulation EC (No) 1272/2008 on the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) for consumer products. The U.S. and EU systems for consumer products classification and labeling are not aligned with each other, however.
Purpose of the Proposal
The main objective of this proposal is to help protect the people of Canada from certain HHHOCs by introducing new requirements for consumer chemical products under the CCPSA. According to Health Canada, it would achieve this objective by establishing a hazard classification and information disclosure framework for HHHOCs, complemented by additional protections such as prohibitions, restrictions, or child-resistant container requirements. Health Canada states that “[i]n this way, users of consumer chemical products would be alerted to HHHOCs in consumer chemical products and would be provided with necessary precautionary statements, such as instructions for safe use and first aid, relevant to the applicable hazards.”
Health Canada proposes to introduce the following requirements for consumer chemical products under the CCPSA:
- Classification criteria for HHHOCs based on those set out in the UN GHS (Health Canada’s notice of intent does not specify which revision of the UN GHS is being considered);
- Information disclosure requirements for HHHOCs based on UN GHS label elements, including hazard symbols, signal words (i.e., “Danger” or “Warning”), hazard statements (e.g., “May cause cancer”), precautionary statements (e.g., instructions for safe use and first aid), and ingredient disclosure requirements; and
- Additional protections, such as prohibitions, restrictions, or child-resistant container requirements, where deemed necessary.
Under the regulatory proposal, existing requirements of the CCCR, 2001, including its classification criteria, prohibitions, information disclosure requirements, and container requirements, would remain in force. Health Canada states that it is considering a variety of regulatory options for introducing the proposed requirements, such as an amendment to the CCCR, 2001 or a new regulation under the CCPSA.
Scope of the Proposal
This proposal applies to consumer products within the scope of the CCPSA that are:
- Substances or mixtures supplied in containers; and
- Classified in an HHHOC category or subcategory according to the UN GHS classification criteria.
Health Canada notes that products that are subject to the CCCR, 2001 or the Science Education Sets Regulations under the CCPSA may be within the scope of this proposal. Health Canada states that the proposal does not apply to:
- A consumer product within the scope of the CCPSA that cannot expose the user to any of its hazardous ingredients during reasonably foreseeable use; or
- Vaping products as defined in Section 2 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.
Amendments to the Existing Requirements of the CCCR, 2001
In parallel to the regulatory proposal, Health Canada states that it may also consider amendments to the CCCR, 2001 to accommodate additional required information to be disclosed on containers of consumer chemical products relevant to HHHOCs. According to Health Canada, these amendments may include changes to the technical specifications of the required information under the CCCR, 2001 (i.e., size of hazard symbols, hazard statements) and its presentation format.
Alternative Regulatory Approach
Subject to stakeholder feedback on this proposal, Health Canada states that it may consider fully replacing the CCCR, 2001 with a risk-based UN GHS framework for classification and information disclosure, and mandating additional protections, as an alternative regulatory approach.
Health Canada seeks comment on its proposal to establish hazard classification criteria and elements on labels that are intended to provide consumers safety information on HHHOCs, including carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants, and other hazards; to introduce protections that are critical for people’s safety where deemed necessary, including prohibitions, restrictions, and child-resistant containers; and to use peel-back labels and online tools to disclose information on HHHOCs. To participate in the consultation, stakeholders, including manufacturers, importers, retailers, and industry associations, can respond to the questions in Health Canada’s questionnaire. The questionnaire asks stakeholders representing the consumer chemicals industry what product categories they manufacture, import, advertise, or sell in Canada: household cleaning chemicals; paints, coatings, and staining products; hobbies and crafts (e.g., adhesives, silly string, fog fluid, sport equipment maintenance, or science education sets); home renovation products; decorative products and seasonal products (e.g., reed diffuser, garden torch, or fire pots); automotive or marine maintenance products (e.g., brake fluid, windshield fluid, or marine epoxies); and fuels (e.g., charcoal lighter fluid or propane cylinders).
Health Canada is considering additional mechanisms to engage stakeholders on this initiative, including possible engagement sessions following analysis of the comments received during this consultation. Health Canada may use feedback collected through this consultation to inform the development of a broader strategy to outline measures to support supply chain transparency and consumer product labeling.
If these changes are adopted, stakeholders should consider the current mechanisms for classification and labeling under CCCR, 2001 against the criteria and content currently recognized in the UN GHS model, as these changes are significant. CCCR, 2001 uses entirely different criteria and symbols to describe acute hazards. Consumer labels, amended to comply with any variation of UN GHS, would need to be re-labeled and re-evaluated. This update would also align better with industrial chemicals, as the current approach, under the Hazardous Products Act, is aligned with UN GHS Revision 7 and certain elements of Revision 8. Consumer products and products in the workplace could essentially use similar processes for addressing hazards, making it easier to train workers on potential hazards associated with consumer products used in the workplace.