Class of PFAS to be listed as Toxic Substances

Posted by on Jun 6, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments

As information and data continue to develop regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), regulations are beginning to take shape.  Recent reports by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Canada Health are making it clear that PFAS are found throughout the country and pose potential human health and environmental risk.

As a result of this report, PFAS appear to be headed to the list of Toxic Substances, Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

Most of the attention and studies have focused on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (LC-PFCA); however, the recommendations in the recent reports by the Canadian Government is to regulate the class of PFAS, which include thousands of compounds.

State of PFAS Report

The May 2023 Draft State of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Report was prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada.

The draft report provides a qualitative assessment of the fate, sources, occurrence, and potential impacts of PFAS on human health and the environment.  It is intended to help decision-making with respect to PFAS in Canada.

Sources of PFAS

The report discusses the potential sources of PFAS in the country that can lead to exposure to the group of PFAS chemicals.  These include food, food packaging, cosmetics, various consumer products, ambient and indoor air, dust, and drinking water.

Additionally, they discuss potential sites where PFAS exposure may occur including sites where Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) has been used (associated with fighting fuel fires – military sites, airports, training facilities, etc…).  Other sites of potential exposure include municipal solid waste landfills and biosolids and land application of biosolids.

Dragun - experts in PFAS assessments/remediation/litigation support

Firefighting Foam containing AFFF is a common source of PFAS
(Image by David Mark from Pixabay).

PFAS Found Throughout Canada

The report also states, “PFAS contamination is present throughout Canada and is not limited to few sources or areas.”  The report states that monitoring and research across Canada have confirmed the “ubiquitous presence of PFAS throughout Canada.”

With respect to subpopulations that were identified as having potential for greater exposures, northern indigenous communities, firefighters, and those living near sites with PFAS contamination were listed.

Health concerns of PFAS reported include effects on the liver, kidney, thyroid, immune system, nervous system, metabolism, and body weight.

As pointed out in the report, “A limited number of subgroups of PFAS are subject to risk management controls in Canada.  The manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, and import of PFOS, PFOA, long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids, and their salts and precursors are prohibited under the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012, with a limited number of exemptions.”

Risk Management Scope for PFAS

In a separate document that refers to the State of PFAS Report (Risk management scope for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)),  it is stated, “On the basis of the findings of the draft State of PFAS Report conducted pursuant to CEPA, the Ministers (Minister of the Environment and Minister of Health) propose to recommend that the class of PFAS be added to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Act” (emphasis added).

Timing of PFAS Regulatory Action

The summary below, proposed timing of PFAS regulatory action, is from a blog by the law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright.

  • Consultation on the draft State of PFAS Report and Risk Management Scope: May 20, 2023, to July 19, 2023 (end of comment period).
  • Publication of the CEPA section 71 notice or other data collection initiative: fall 2023.
  • Publication of responses to public comments on the draft State of PFAS Report and Risk Management Scope: concurrent with the publication of the final State of PFAS Report and, if required, risk management approach.
  • Publication of responses to public comments on the risk management approach, if applicable and if required, a proposed instrument: At the latest, 24 months from the date on which the ministers publish a recommendation that the class of PFAS be added to Schedule 1 under CEPA.
  • Consultation on a proposed instrument, if required: 60-day public comment period starting upon publication of a proposed instrument.
  • Publication of a final instrument, if required: At the latest, 18 months from the publication of a proposed instrument.

With these reports and associated anticipated regulatory actions, the regulated community should prepare for greater scrutiny and regulation as it relates to PFAS.

Also, see an affiliated document based on the State of PFAS Report from The Canadian Food Inspection Agency

If you have questions or need assistance with an environmental issue, contact Christopher Paré, P.Geo., Q.P. at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114.  For more information about PFAS, see Dragun’s PFAS Resources Page.

Dragun Corporation does not use artificial intelligence in drafting our blogs or any other material.

This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn.  Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management.  He has worked in environmental management for 45 years.  He has written hundreds of blogs and articles.  His published work includes HazMat Magazine, BizX Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, and Progressive Dairy.

This blog was reviewed by Christopher Paré, P.Geo.  Chris is a senior geoscientist and manager of Dragun’s Windsor, Ontario, office.  Chris has more than 30 years of experience on projects ranging from environmental site assessments (Phase One/Two ESA), excess soils, remedial investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, Permits to Take Water, Records of Site Conditions, vapour intrusion, and site decommissioning.  Chris is a frequent speaker, author, and expert witness.  See Chris’ bio.

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