Toxic chemical monitoring program gets $500M

The program that led the federal government to ban bisphenol A from baby bottles will continue with another $508 million in new funding over five years.

The program that led the federal government to ban bisphenol A from baby bottles will continue with another $508 million in new funding over five years.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Environment Minister Peter Kent announced funding to renew Ottawa's chemical management strategy on Monday. 

In October 2008, Canada became the first country to ban the import and sale of polycarbonate baby bottles containing bisphenol A. (Fatih Saribas/Reuters)

"Canadians want to have confidence in the products they use every day, and reassurance that they are not harmful to the environment," Kent said in a statement.

Under the program, news chemicals suspected of causing damage to human health or the environment are screened for safety. Older products that include chemicals that are now banned, and existing substances, are also reviewed.

The government initially invested $300 million in the program in 2006, but that funding has run out.

The new funding will be used to complete assessments of 500 substances in nine categories, including phthalates, that are mainly used in plastics, and more research for substances like bisphenol A or BPA that is used to make many hard plastics and may affect hormone function.  

As part of the program, federal scientists are also reviewing the safety of triclosan, which is found in some antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers, toothpaste and deodorant.

The researchers said they will release a draft opinion on triclosan next spring for public feedback.

Animal studies suggest triclosan can disrupt hormone levels, and other research suggest it encourages the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria or "superbugs."

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press