Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Notice of intent to address the broad class of PFAS substances

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The Government recently gave notice that it intends to move forward with activities to address the broad class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The initiative is deemed necessary because scientific evidence to date indicates the PFAS used to replace regulated PFOS, PFOA, and long-chain PFCAs (LC-PFCAs) may also be associated with environmental and/or human health effects.

CWWA's Drinking Water Quality Committee has been monitoring research on PFAS for some time, as we've become aware of their impacts on water supplies. We are planning presentations at the National Water and Wastewater Conference to address PFAS and other emerging chemicals of concern.

"The large number of PFAS that are commercially available and their diverse chemical structures, combined with the lack of data on the hazards and properties of the individual substances, renders a traditional substance-by-substance assessment and management approach impractical”, the Notice states.

"Considering PFAS as a class of chemicals would better address situations where exposure occurs to multiple PFAS at the same time. This will allow the Government of Canada to consider cumulative effects, and to prevent regrettable substitutions”.

Planned actions

In 2021, the Government of Canada will:

  • continue to invest in research and monitoring on PFAS;
  • collect and examine information on PFAS to inform a class-based approach; and
  • review policy developments in other jurisdictions.

In addition, within the next two years, the Government of Canada will publish a State of PFAS Report, which will summarize relevant information on the class of PFAS.

Related consultations

As a first step, stakeholders are invited to provide initial feedback on the intent to address PFAS as a class, including any challenges or opportunities they foresee.

Stakeholders are invited to submit relevant information or indicate their interest in being engaged in future discussions by emailing

Stakeholders are also invited to subscribe to the Chemicals Management Plan subscription service at:

to be kept informed of future information sessions and/or consultations.


PFAS are used in a wide range of products, such as surfactants, lubricants, and repellents (for dirt, water, and grease). PFAS can also be found in other products as diverse as firefighting foams, textiles (e.g. carpets, furniture, and clothing), cosmetics, and in food packaging materials. PFAS are not manufactured in Canada but enter through importation, within products or manufactured items.


Well-studied PFAS have demonstrated the following characteristics:

  • They are environmentally persistent and mobile within the environment.
  • They have been detected in humans, wildlife, and environmental media worldwide.
  • They biomagnify in food webs.
  • They are associated with a range of adverse effects on the environment and effects that may have implications for human health.

Current regulation

The large majority of the 4,700 PFAS, as identified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have not been assessed and are not being managed globally.

In Canada, risk management actions for PFOS have been in place since 2008. Since 2016, the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of PFOS, PFOA, LC-PFCAs, and products that contain them have been prohibited, with a limited number of exemptions (e.g. manufactured items containing PFOA or LC-PFCAs) under the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012.

In 2018, a consultation document was published outlining a proposal to further restrict these substances by removing all current exemptions. The proposed regulations are targeted for publication this Spring (2021).

Access Gazette Notice at: