Photo: Who tests consumer goods for safety?

Substances used in some consumer products pose risks to human health. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

A recent audit found Health Canada isn't doing enough to protect Canadians from hazardous chemicals in everyday products.

This is not breaking news to you. And maybe it's the main reason you:

Federal environmental watchdog report findings:

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  • Cosmetics and household products need more safety oversight. (Perhaps this explains how harmful microbeads made it into your toothpaste, onto store shelves and then into the ocean and aquatic species?)
  • Canada should align its regulations with the European Union, which has made companies label products that contain any of the known 26 fragrance allergens since 2003. (The David Suzuki Foundation made this same recommendation in 2011 with Failing the Sniff Test: Chemicals in fragranced products remain a mystery!)
  • Gaps in the Consumer Product Safety Program — which is designed to detect risks to human health — are problematic.
  • No regular tests are conducted for heavy metals (and contaminants). Did you know that for some heavy metals, like lead, there are no safe levels?
  • Sunscreen products can be unsafe and their labels misleading.
  • More product testing is needed, and consumers should be informed that terms like "hypoallergenic" or "unscented" don't necessarily mean the product is healthy or safe.

The good news?

Health Canada will review its plan, and may include testing of cosmetics for banned or restricted substances. It may also require companies to confidentially disclose a full list of ingredients, instead of hiding behind "trade secrets".

Until then, continue to shop for products free from the Dirty Dozen, including "fragrance", and clean your home with food-grade ingredients!

And sign up for my digest to get your monthly dose of "green" inspiration, which will help reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

June 22, 2016

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Jul 07, 2016
4:06 PM

If we ask for more testing of products, especially cosmetics, won’t we be supporting animal testing of some of these products? I for one have been against any animal testing and would not want Canada to go backwards on this subject. It is a proven that animal testing is mostly useless and cruel.

Jun 27, 2016
7:16 AM

I agree 100% :)

Jun 25, 2016
5:30 PM

I am interested in the safe cosmetics and nail polish.

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