Recognizable symbols on products that contain cancer causing chemicals needed in Canada

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Subject: Recognizable symbols on products that contain cancer causing chemicals needed in Canada


In 2011, Canada will continue to see an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with cancer. Every hour of every day, an average of 20 people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer and eight people will die from cancer. Men have a 45% lifetime probability (or one in 2.2 chance) of developing cancer.* This means that nearly one in two men is expected to develop cancer during his lifetime. Similarly, women have a 40% probability (or one in 2.5 chance) of developing cancer in their lifetime.

Currently over 430 chemicals are considered by the World Health Organization to be possible or known carcinogens. Many of these are used in manufacturing processes and products. Workers, communities and consumers have a right to know when they are exposed to known or suspected carcinogens. There are thousands of other chemicals associated with negative health impacts other than cancer, but which may contribute to a person developing this disease. The most vulnerable populations in our society, workers, children, developing fetus, people of low income, and people with chemical sensitivities may be at greater risk from the impacts of toxic chemicals such as carcinogens. We urgently need to reverse this situation. We need to take regulatory measures that will keep these chemicals out of our consumer products.

This petition is a small but vital part in increasing our right to know and promoting safe products in Canada. A product that contains a suspected or known carcinogen must be labelled with a clearly recognizable symbol. Our right to information should not be based on the government’s assessment of safe exposure levels. We have the right to know when such a chemical is in a product we buy. We know that change is possible because responsible product manufacturers are phasing out the use of hazardous chemicals and replacing them with safer substitutes. More information given to consumers and the public will speed this transition to clean products and greener chemical ingredients.

* Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011. Canadian Cancer Society.


Whereas the public has the right to know what harmful or potentially harmful chemicals are in the products they buy;

Whereas vulnerable populations such as children, developing fetus, pregnant women, workers, people of low income, and people with chemical sensitivities are at greater risk to the impacts of harmful chemicals;

Whereas the public may choose alternative safer products if they are clearly warned of toxic substances in the products they buy;

Whereas the current information on chemical ingredients available to Canadians on product packaging is vague, incomplete and insufficient for consumers to determine the risk to their health;

Whereas ingredient disclosure (as currently required for cosmetics products under the Cosmetic Regulations of the Food and Drug Act) for products is important, hazard labelling indicating whether products contain known or suspected carcinogens would provide complementary information for consumers who may not have the time or resources to research individual ingredients, their properties or interactions;

Whereas Canadians presently are not explicitly warned if a carcinogenic or suspected carcinogenic substance is present in the products they are buying;

Whereas Health Canada’s Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB) is responsible for regulating consumer products, cosmetics, and workplace hazardous materials and promoting consumer awareness of actual and potential product-related hazards;

We, the undersigned, request the Minister of Health, The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P to introduce regulations under the Consumer Products Safety Act that will require products labeling, particularly for known or suspected carcinogens to be labeled with a clearly recognizable symbol. The symbol should be visible to the consumer at point of sale and use and presented in clear language.

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