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August 27, 2015

Federal Government to Develop Microbeads Regulations

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An order proposing to add microbeads to Schedule 1 - the List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) was published in the August 1, 2015 edition of Canada Gazette Part I

Declaring microbeads toxic under CEPA 1999 subsection 64(a) would enable appropriate preventative measures to be taken to reduce the release of microbeads into the environment.

The Order was accompanied by a related Notice of intent to develop microbeads regulations designed to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and offer for sale of certain microbead-containing personal care products that are used to exfoliate or cleanse.

Microbeads are synthetic polymer particles that, at the time of their manufacture, are greater than 0.1 µm and less than or equal to 5 mm in size, which can vary in chemical composition, size, shape, density, and function. They are manufactured for specific purposes, including for use in personal care products (such as scrubs, bath products, facial cleaners, toothpastes).

They may also be used in cleaning products and printer toners and in industrial products such as abrasive media (e.g., plastic blasting), industry (e.g., oil and gas exploration, textile printing, and automotive molding), other plastic products (antislip, anti-blocking applications) and medical applications.

Microbeads from ‘down the drain’ products can be released into the aquatic environment after wastewater treatment where they can persist for a long time. 

CWWA supports the approach the federal government is pursuing in addressing the challenges posed by microbeads – by limiting them in consumer and industrial products, rather than trying to remove them at the treatment level. As more personal care products and pharmaceuticals are being investigated for potential environmental impacts we hope that this approach continues when possible.


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