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 compounds which contain carbon atoms 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. Since the voluntary phase-out of the production of these substances by the primary supplier in the United States in 2002, importations have been significantly limited.

On July 1, 2006, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister 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 PFOS, its salts and its precursors. Currently, the Regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of PFOS and products containing PFOS. Exemptions are provided for the use of PFOS-based aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) if the concentration of PFOS is below 0.5 parts per million and the use, sale and offer for sale of products containing PFOS that were manufactured or imported before May 29, 2008 if the product is a manufactured item that was formed into a specific physical shape or design during its manufacture and that has, for its final use, a function or functions dependent in whole or in part on its shape or design, as well as the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of photoresists or anti-reflective coatings for photolithography process and photographic films, papers and printing plates.

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.

The Government's Consultation Document on the Examination of On-going Exemptions for PFOS its salts and certain other compounds was published on January 4, 2013 for a 60-day public comment period. Comments received were considered during the update of the risk management measures for PFOS.

The proposed Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 include controls for PFOS and was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on April 4, 2015. The proposed Amendments maintain similar regulatory requirements for PFOS and revise exemptions. The proposed Amendments are subject to a 75-day public comment period from April 4, 2015 – June 18, 2015. Comments received during this period will be considered for the final development of these Regulations. The Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds will be repealed once the proposed Amendments are finalized and come into force.

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


Risk Assessment


Source(s)

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Risk Management Strategy

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Other Information


Contact

Chemicals Management Division
Environment Canada
351, St-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3

E-mail: ec.interdiction-prohibition.ec@ec.gc.ca