January 2017

International Regulatory Resources: WHMIS deadlines, CEPA changes, public recalls and more…

The recent Southern Aerosol Technical Association meeting was bittersweet for all of us at Nexreg. While we enjoy revisiting our friends and colleagues, it was not the same without Doug Fratz in attendance. He is greatly missed by the Nexreg family.

 WHMIS 2015 deadline rapidly approaching

Importers into Canada must have their Safety Data Sheets and (workplace) product labels fully Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System 2015 (WHMIS) compliant by the end of May 2017. To help ease the transition, the Canadian government recently released a supplier requirements guidance document. The most useful part of the guidance document is the series of orange boxes which highlight “variances” between WHMIS 2015 and the U.S. Hazcom 2012 system. The guide is a must review for that alone, as many companies are using their Hazcom 2012 documents as a starting point in achieving Canadian compliance. It can be downloaded at: http://tinyurl.com/whmis2015a

A second guidance document focused on physical and health hazard classification will be released later in the year.

 Changes to CEPA

On Oct. 1, nine changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) were posted in the Canada Gazette. Of particular interest to the aerosol industry are changes to the volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration limits regulations for automotive refinishing products and for architectural coatings. These edits to the regulation are housekeeping in nature and appear trivial, however occasionally small changes can have large unintended consequences. I would suggest reviewing the changes, which are available at the follow link: http://tinyurl.com/cepachanges

Significant reforms to Canadian self-care products regulations

Canada is contemplating some significant changes to how self-care products are regulated. Currently, the regulations break products down into three types: cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs, depending on the characteristics of the claims being made on the product. The difficulty is, these categories are not mutually exclusive. Toothpaste, for instance, could simultaneously be considered a natural health product, non-prescription drug or a cosmetic.

The proposed reform for this system is to eliminate the product types entirely and replace them with a system classifying products based on their risk. Health Canada is proposing three trenches of classification: lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk, each of which would have different rules and requirements. Companies had until Oct. 24 to submit their comments on the proposed changes. This one is worth watching, as it will significantly alter the regulatory requirements for certain products coming into Canada.

Health Canada assesses a $20,000 fine for Non-Compliance

Earlier this year, Health Canada assessed a CAD$20,000 fine under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, which governs the Consumer Chemicals & Containers Regulations, 2001 (CCCR, 2001) consumer chemical labeling regulations. The fine was for failing to provide Health Canada with a full customer list for an orange oil product that had been recalled. This episode illustrates the importance of keeping detailed records and making them easily and quickly accessible should Health Canada require information.

Public recalls of aerosols continue in Canada

On June 30, Health Canada issued a full public recall for three aerosol primer products due to flame projections that exceed the limit under CCCR, 2001. Over the past few years, aerosols , along with orange oil products and reed diffusers, have experienced high levels of public recalls from Canada.

It is particularly important to ensure that if your products are being sold to even a single consumer in Canada, that they be CCCR, 2001 compliant. There are no special provisions to allow the sale of mostly workplace products to a few consumers; if your product is sold to even a single consumer, it must be compliant with the CCCR, 2001 regulations. This poses challenges for U.S. companies, as they often are unaware who their distributors are selling products to. Of particular concern to aerosol companies are repair garages that will occasionally sell products direct to consumers, along with U.S. online stores that ship to Canadian addresses. Companies should inform these distributors that their product is not for sale to Canadian consumers if it has not been made CCCR, 2001 compliant.

Auditor General recommends information sharing on Consumer Products

Canada’s Auditor General recently made eight recommendations for the regulation of chemicals in consumer products and cosmetics. Of particular interest are the proposed changes to the treatment of fragrances:

To improve Health Canada’s ability to detect and assess risks, and to provide information to consumers so that they can make informed choices, the Department should: do product testing to determine the extent to which cosmetics include prohibited and/or unsafe concentrations of substances under the labels “fragrance,” “parfum,” “aroma,” or “flavour”; consider options to encourage manufacturers to provide the Department, on a confidential basis, with the complete list and concentrations of substances that comprise ingredients listed under these terms; and inform consumers that marketing terms such as “hypoallergenic,” “preservative-free,” “fragrance-free,” and “unscented” should not be confused with health and safety claims.

Health Canada responded positively to this recommendation:

“Agreed. The Department’s Cyclical Enforcement (CE) plan for the testing of cosmetics is being reviewed and will include the testing of products that use the terms “fragrance,” “parfum,” “aroma,” or “flavour,” to determine the presence of prohibited or restricted substances that may be included as an ingredient in the product formulation.

Health Canada will consider options to encourage manufacturers to disclose, on a confidential basis, the complete list and concentrations of substances that comprise ingredients listed under the umbrella terms referenced in the recommendation. The results of testing under the aforementioned CE plan will inform options for analysis.

Given Health Canada’s response, this file is worth monitoring. The full report can be downloaded at: http://tinyurl.com/audgenreport.

There will be a lot more to come in 2017, which we will be examining in my March column.