Siloxane D5 1, a common ingredient in many cosmetics
and other toiletries, is the first subject of an independent
Environment Canada review of a prior decision identifying a
substance as toxic. In 2009, the Ministers of Health and the
Environment recommended that Siloxane D5 be added to the Toxic
Substances List. This recommendation was based on a 'screening
assessment' completed by both Environment Canada and Health
Canada. The screening assessment concluded that Siloxane D5 may
have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment.
Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act ("CEPA"),
once a substance is added to the Toxic Substances List it can
become subject to a number of special regulations that can restrict
access or its application, or even ban its use in Canada.
Subsequent to the 2009 screening assessment and the
recommendation to add Siloxane D5 to the Toxic Substances List, the
Silicones Environmental, Health and Safety Council of North America
("SEHSC") filed a Notice of Objection under subsection
332(2) of CEPA, requesting that a board review the decision.
Specifically, the SEHSC challenged that the screening assessment
was not based on the best available evidence and, furthermore, that
there were errors in the assessment process. Such a board was
established under subsection 333(1) of CEPA in August, 2010.
In the October 24, 2011 decision, the three expert academic
toxicologists composing the board reach the opposite conclusion of
the original assessment. Following an intensive 14 month
investigation that reviewed more recent information than that
considered in the 2009 screening assessment, Environment Canada
concluded that Siloxane D5 does not, and will not in the
foreseeable future, pose a danger to the Canadian environment. In
conducting its review, the board paid particular attention to the
processes employed in the original assessment and the heavy
reliance on models rather than empirical evidence. The board
concluded that these models resulted in inaccurate assessments of
the likely impacts of Siloxane D5. Although the Minister of the
Environment is not bound by the review decision, and can still
place Siloxane D5 on the Toxic Substances List if he desires, this
seems highly unlikely.
In addition to its findings on Siloxane D5, the board also made
several recommendations about the process by which toxic substances
are assessed. The board recommends regular reviews for the
regulations to ensure they reflect the most current standards and
methodologies. It also recommends the development of guidance
documents for government staff conducting risk assessments or using
risk assessment models. The board also encouraged industry
stakeholders to work with government at the outset of screening
assessments to ensure the most recent information is available; a
measure that would hopefully reduce the number of reviews, such as
this one, that must be conducted.
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