Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), Its Salts and Its Precursors

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and its precursors all belong to the larger class of fluorochemicals referred to as perfluorinated alkyl (PFA) compounds which contain carbons that are completely saturated by fluorine. It is the strength of the carbon-fluorine bonds that contributes to the extreme stability and unique properties of these perfluorochemicals. PFOS, its salts and its precursors are not manufactured in Canada and, since the voluntary phase-out of PFOS production in 2002 by the primary supplier of these substances, annual imports are now limited to approximately 3 tonnes for use as a surfactant in the electroplating sector. Existing stockpiles of PFOS within Canada are limited to aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) that is used for fighting fuel fires.

On July 1, 2006, the Ministers of the Environment and of Health published, in Part I of the Canada Gazette, their final decision on the assessment of PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds. The ecological screening assessment concluded that PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds are or may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity. The human health assessment concluded that current levels of PFOS exposure are below levels which might affect human health. Based on the conclusions of the assessment of PFOS, an Order was published in Part II of the Canada Gazette adding PFOS, its salts and certain other compounds to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). On December 16, 2006, the proposed Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The final Regulations were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on June 11, 2008.

The purpose of the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations is to protect Canada's environment from the use and release of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and its precursors. The Regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of PFOS as well as manufactured products containing PFOS. Five year exemptions are provided for the use, other than for training and testing purposes, of existing stocks of PFOS based aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) and the manufacture, use sale, offer for sale and import of PFOS based fume suppressants used in the metal plating industry. Other exemptions provide for the use, sale and offer for sale of manufactured products, manufactured or imported prior to the coming into force of these Regulations, as well as the manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale and use of semiconductor devices and photographic materials.

On January 13, 2009, the Regulations Adding Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and its Salts to the Virtual Elimination List were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The Regulations add PFOS and its salts to the Virtual elimination List compiled under subsection 65(2) of CEPA 1999. The Regulations demonstrate the Government of Canada’s continuing commitment to virtually eliminate PFOS and to meet the requirements of the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination Act , that received Royal Assent on April 17, 2008.

For more information on this substance, please visit the Chemical Substances website.


Risk Assessment


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Email address: GR-RM@ec.gc.ca
Fax number: (819) 994-0007

Chemicals Management Division
Environment Canada
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200 Sacré Coeur Blvd.
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