Canada’s counterparts to the US OSHA and EPA are CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) and Environment Canada, respectively. But while Environment Canada can issue regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, CCOHS serves mainly to disseminate information on workplace health and safety, with no regulatory or enforcement powers such as OSHA has.
CEPA Cr6+ clean air
Canada’s Environmental Protection Act requires Environment Canada to maintain a list of toxic contaminants known as the Priority Substances List 1, which currently numbers 44 materials and includes hexavalent chromium, cadmium and soluble nickel compounds. Within this list, the most toxic materials are targeted by the agency for virtually total elimination from the environment, while the others are managed by regulation.
Environment Canada has recently proposed national emission standards for Cr6+ emissions from hard and decorative chrome plating and chromic acid anodizing, similar to the EPA rule in the US. The new Canadian regulations are expected to be promulgated in the first half of 2006 and go into effect 30 months later. There are also a number of existing provincial regulations on Cr6+.
Soluble nickel compounds such as those used in electroless and electrolytic nickel plating are also on Environment Canada’s Priority Substances List 1 of toxic pollutants. However, despite the agency’s classification of these compounds as carcinogenic to humans, there are no current plans to regulate them in Canada.
Canada currently has no equivalent of the US OSHA PELs (permissible exposure limits) for hazardous air contaminants in the workplace. Nevertheless, the new OSHA PEL for Cr6+ will have such a wide-ranging effect on industrial processes in the US that it is likely Canada will follow with a similar rule – if only from US pressure to prevent the loss of chrome plating and other business across the border, to shops without the same regulatory controls on worker exposure.