Canada – Publishes Asbestos Restrictions

On October 18, 2018, Canada published the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations (SOR/2018-196). The tight restriction of asbestos use is not surprising, but the lack of a specific threshold for some aspects of the regulation is causing concern among some EEE manufacturers.

Paragraph 4 on import, sale or use and paragraph 5 on manufacture states that:

4 Subject to sections 7 to 21, a person must not import, sell or use

  • (a) processed asbestos fibres;
  • (b) a product containing processed asbestos fibres unless those fibres are the result of the degradation of asbestos integrated into a product, a structure or infrastructure; or
  • (c) a consumer product containing asbestos in greater than trace amounts.

5 A person must not manufacture

  • (a) subject to section 8, a product containing processed asbestos fibres unless those fibres are the result of the degradation of asbestos integrated into a product, a structure or infrastructure before the coming into force of these Regulations; or
  • (b) a consumer product containing asbestos in greater than trace amounts.

The complication is that bullet 4(b) suggests an absolute ban on processed asbestos fibres except due to degradation.  This creates a challenge with supplier declarations and in testing for compliance.

The restriction on consumer product specified in bullet 4(c) allows for trace amounts.  Environment Canada has published a separate guidance document[1] on the regulation to try to provide some clarification; however, the use of slightly different terminology in the guidance document versus the regulation creates some additional confusion.

The full text is available on the Justice Laws website[2]. The regulation comes into force on December 30, 2018.

Impact on EEE Manufacturer

Asbestos has been used in several EEE products that generate heat and it can occur in trace quantities in other products.  Given that the regulation doesn’t provide a precise threshold, some EEE manufacturers may decide to implement restrictions and supply chain requirements based on not “intentionally added”.

[1] Environment Canada Guidance on trace amounts of asbestos, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/management-toxic-substances/list-canadian-environmental-protection-act/asbestos/trace-asbestos-consumer-products-guidance.html#toc1

[2] Canada Asbestos regulation, https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2018-196/FullText.html