Canada proposes regulations banning most uses of asbestos

Places - Canada - flag © Jim Barber - Fotolia.comThe Canadian government has published proposed regulations that would ban the import, use and sale of asbestos and asbestos-containing products under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Cepa).

It would also bar the export of these products through amendments to the existing Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations (ESECLR). Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada published the proposed regulations in the 6 January Canada Gazette. Consistent with the regulatory approach announced last April, the proposal would ban six minerals commonly known by the umbrella term “asbestos”.

These are:

crocidolite; and
Asbestos was historically used for insulating buildings and homes and for fireproofing. It can be found in heating systems, insulation, floor tiles, house siding and some motor vehicle components.

The regulations do not require removal of existing asbestos products, because the government determined this poses a greater health risk than leaving them in place.

The use or sale of any asbestos-containing products on inventories but not yet installed, would be prohibited under the new regulations. Any stockpiled asbestos-related materials would need to be disposed of or destroyed.

Limited exemptions
The regulations contain an exemption for the use of some asbestos-containing mining residues, to allow for the redevelopment and rehabilitation of former mine sites.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association praised the initiative but argued that the chlor-alkali exception should be shorter, and affected industries required to undertake alternatives assessment. The group also urged the government to establish acceptable limits for asbestos residue and ensure public reporting of requests for use permits.

“The proposed regulation should require industry to find safe alternatives now,” said Joseph Castrilli, counsel at the association. “The focus on alternatives will facilitate reduced asbestos exposure over time.”

Asbestos outside Canada
The EU has banned asbestos, except for a time-limited exemption for the use of diaphragms containing chrysotile asbestos in electrolysis installations.

Australia has banned it in a number of different cases.

The US is currently evaluating asbestos as one of the first ten chemicals subject to review under the new TSCA. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in December that the agency may reconsider its decision not to include “legacy” uses in the evaluation.

For more on Canada and Asbestos click on the link by ChemicalWatch: Asbestos

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