Summary of Overarching Public Comments Received on the Batch 2 substances

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Formal overarching comments made during the 60-day public comment period that took place from May 17, 2008 to July 16, 2008 on the draft screening assessment report and risk management scope on for all Batch 2 substances to be addressed as part of the Chemicals Management Plan Challenge under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999), were provide by Dow Chemical Canada Inc, Reach for Unbleached! and Crofton Airshed Citizens Group, Lyondell, Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association(CCTFA), Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and chemical sensitivities joint submission, Canadian Society for Chemistry, Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association(CCSPA).

A summary of comments and responses is included below, organized by topic:

  • Document improvements
  • Precautionary Approach
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Peer Review and Verification
  • Workplace safety
  • Communications
Document improvementsIt would be helpful, considering the tight timelines associated with the CMP, if the Government would implement comments received on previous batches to improve subsequent risk management scopes. Theses scopes should also include a clearer indication of what risk management action and its rationale the government is considering.The Government of Canada will continue to consider all comments received on risk management scope documents. All comments are carefully considered and are helpful in improving future Batch releases.  The risk management scope documents are intended to provide an initial overview of potential risk management options based on the information available. By not including specific proposed risk management actions, it allows for a broad public discourse on how to best manage the highlighted risks. The public comment period is extremely helpful in assisting the Government to develop strong and effective risk management actions.
Precautionary ApproachThe proposed risk management actions should be focussed on the area of exposure that was identified as possibly being harmful to human health or the environment. Too often the risk has been identified using data that leads to very subjective conclusions. The Government of Canada should develop general guidelines or regulations under CEPA, 1999 to cover all consumer products to manage any risks to the environment and or human health that may be discovered.The Government’s proposed risk management activities focus on minimization of the risks identified in the risk assessment based on the information available. The level of exposure identified as being possibly harmful to human health or the environment may be the result of a variety of sources requiring equally diverse actions to mitigate those risks.  These proposed conclusions are based on the available information supplemented by new information during the public comment period. If an identified risk cannot be discounted, a precautionary approach is taken to protect the health and environment of Canadians.
Vulnerable PopulationsVulnerable populations, including people with low income, may be significantly impacted by exposure to pollution, including toxic substances in consumer or industrial products. Therefore, risk assessments should consider social and economic factors when conducting screening assessments.Risk assessments are science-based assessments of the available data. Various exposure scenarios are used that are protective of vulnerable populations in Canada, including low income populations. Socio-economic factors are being taken into account during the risk management stage in developing the appropriate instruments.
Peer Review and VerificationThe peer review validation method needs to be clearly described, the reviewers/consultants identified, and their validation report (with response comments) made available. The screening assessment document should indicate when a validation method is not used and provide a rationale for this action. All assessments are subject to a comprehensive internal science review. Issues or areas of uncertainty identified during the completion of an assessment and internal review are used to identify the expertise most suitable to provide external science review. Individuals having this expertise are then identified and asked to conduct the review. While technical expertise is the main criteria for identifying suitable individuals, they may come from academia, industry, consulting firms or government. Comments submitted are considered in modifying the assessment reports. Draft assessments are also subject to a 60-day public comment period, which additionally provides an opportunity to all stakeholders to provide comments. These comments are taken into consideration in finalizing the assessment.
Workplace safetyRisk assessment should consider exposure of workers in industrial facilities, wholesale operations, and trades because exposure in the workplace may be prolonged and concentrated. Risk management should also consider options for minimizing occupational exposure.Exposure of the general population to chemicals through environmental media (e.g., food, ambient air, soil, consumer products) is taken into account in developing both the screening assessment and risk management scope documents.  Hazard information obtained from occupational settings, in particular epidemiological information, is considered in the risk assessment.  The information developed through the CMP process may be used to inform decisions concerning additional actions to minimize exposure to workers.
CommunicationsThe general public may misinterpret CEPA-toxic to mean that a substance is poisonous. Fear of CEPA-toxic chemicals may wrongly translate into efforts to totally eliminate chemicals, which have benefits to society and can continue to be used in a safe manner with proper management. We encourage the Government to ensure that the risks to Canadians from the use and release of substances in the Challenge are communicated in an appropriate manner and put in proper context.

Risk communication is important in explaining how the Government came to its conclusions and what risk management action may be required.

The conclusion of “toxic” under the legislation is based on criteria presented in section 64 of the legislation. Meeting the criteria signals that there is a need for controls to reduce the potential or actual harm that the substance may pose which was identified in the risk assessment.

The conclusion of “toxic” and subsequent inclusion on the List of Toxic Substances allows the government access to the risk management tools (e.g., pollution prevention plans, regulations to control, etc) available under other parts of the legislation to control the risk identified in the assessment.

The Government of Canada works with stakeholders such as the public, industry and health and environmental communities to ensure that the risks are clearly communicated and the decisions made on risk management are understood. In addition, feedback during the public comment period is useful to helping Government improve its communication efforts.

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