Canadian Contractor

Patrick Flannery   

Ottawa eyeing PFAS bans

Project Management sustainability

According to a government of Canada website, the ministry of Environment and Climate Change is considering adding a group of chemicals known as PFAS to its list of toxic substances. This would allow the government to restrict, control or ban the use, transport, disposal, storage and research of the substance. Some older PFAS that were largely already out of use have already been added to the list.

PFAS is the acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals. They have been used in a wide range of products since the 1950s for chemical and thermal stabilization and to make items non-stick, flame-resistant and resistant to stains. Many building materials and interior decor items incorporate PFAS. The concern about the chemicals arises from their resistance to breaking down over time, causing detractors to dub them “forever chemicals.” Studies have shown buildups of these chemicals in soil, water, animals and humans, inciting worries about what could happen if they continue to accumulate in the environment.

A public comment period on the Risk Management Scope document concluded last summer. The ministry now has 24 months to prepare a proposal for PFAS to be added to the toxic substances list.

Should PFAS be banned, many common products Canadian contractors use could become unavailable or more expensive. Industrial chemical giant 3M settled U.S. lawsuits for over $10 billion last year over PFAS contamination of drinking water.



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