In our December post titled “Products Containing Mercury Regulations published in Canada,” we discussed the scope and general prohibitions and exemptions of the recently published Canadian “Products Containing Mercury Regulations (SOR/2014-254)“. In this second article on the Regulations, we examine some of the technical aspects of the Regulations including the maximum concentration limits and how these compare with the EU RoHS Directive and the EU Battery Directive.
Maximum Concentration Limit
The concentration of mercury allowed in the Canadian Regulations aligns with the EU RoHS restriction of 0.1% mercury in homogeneous materials. This allows EEE manufacturers and importers to leverage their conformity assessment procedures and to use existing supplier material declarations, test reports and other technical documentation (as per EN 50581).
For batteries, the maximum concentration levels specify the same numerical percentage as in the EU Battery Directive; however, there are important differences in the basis of calculation. The Canadian mercury regulations reference the weight of mercury in homogeneous materials whereas the weight of the entire battery is the basis for calculation in the EU Battery Directive.
Canadian Products Containing Mercury Regulations
(l) a battery, other than a button cell battery, that has a mercury concentration of 0.0005% or less by weight in homogeneous materials; [are excluded]
EU Battery Directive
1.(a) all batteries or accumulators, whether or not incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0,0005 % of mercury by weight; and [are prohibited]
As a result, the Canadian Regulations are much stricter than the EU Directive and battery manufacturers may have more difficulty in verifying conformity to this requirement.
Button Cell Batteries
Both Canadian and EU restrictions provide short-term allowances for mercury in button cell batteries that phase out in 2015. The Schedule in the Canadian Regulations provides an exemption for up to 25mg per button cell battery that expires on December 31, 2015. In the EU Battery Directive, the mercury prohibitions in button cell batteries are specified in Article 4, paragraph 2, allowing up to 2% mercury by weight of the battery:
4(2). The prohibition set out in paragraph 1(a) shall not apply to button cells with a mercury content of no more than 2 % by weight until 1 October 2015.
The Canadian Regulations set the long-term mercury threshold at 0.0005% based on the weight of each homogeneous material; whereas the EU Battery Directive sets the threshold based on the weight of the entire battery. The Canadian Regulations specify the concentration limits in subsections 2(m) and 2(n).
(m) beginning on January 1, 2016, a button cell battery that has a mercury concentration of 0.0005% or less by weight in homogeneous materials; [are excluded]
(n) from January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2019, a button cell battery that is incorporated into a medical device that is intended to remain in the body for at least 30 consecutive days; [are excluded]
The Canadian Regulations provide an exclusion for button cell batteries in implanted medical devices; whereas, the EU Battery Directive provides an broader exclusion to the mercury prohibition for all portable batteries in medical devices.
An earlier draft of the Canadian mercury regulations proposed mandatory testing of products containing mercury; however this requirement was removed in the final regulations (to the relief of manufacturers and importers).
Future Articles on the Mercury Regulations
In future articles examining the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, we will discuss
- the mercury exemptions provided by the Regulations and how the exemptions compare to those provided in the EU RoHS Directive
- what if your product requires mercury, but there is no exemption listed — how manufacturers and importers may apply for a temporary permit
- marking, labeling and reporting requirements for products that contain mercury above the maximum concentration limit
- accreditation of test labs
ECD Compliance provides manufacturers and suppliers with services to track global environmental product requirements and assess the impact to their products and markets, including the Canadian Products Containing Mercury Regulations.
The Products Containing Mercury Regulations (SOR/2014-254) is available from the Canada Gazette.