Environmental Defence released an analysis on Wednesday, suggesting Canada needs to increase transparency and enforcement to protect Canadians from unlimited exposure to toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium. The analysis is based on recently tested Dollarama products.
The organization published testing results on numerous items from Canadian dollar stores. Testing revealed toxic chemicals banned by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act are in one of four goods. Many results were also within the permitted limits, but the report claims these limits are not strong enough.
Stereo headphones contained lead levels 24 times the legal limit and cadmium levels five times the acceptable limit in the outer ring.
On the outside of the headphones, the solder contained toxic chemicals 170 times the recommended level of safety. However, a different pair of earbud-style headphones’ solder contained 3,000 times more lead on the accessible parts than was permitted.
The regulations do not cover solder, which is why Environmental Defense insists that this oversight must be filled.
According to Cassie Barker, toxics manager for Environmental Defence, if products break or wear out, internal lead may still be exposed.
She explained kids use stuff in a particular way, and you know they damage things, so that internal (lead) rapidly becomes an exterior lead.
Over the past 50 years, the toxic effects of lead poisoning have been well-documented. High exposures can result in severe cognitive and developmental deficits in young children, putting adults at risk for high blood pressure and kidney damage. As a result, it is prohibited from being used in paint, food cans, and gasoline.
Cadmium is a known carcinogen that is often found in batteries, coatings, and plastic stabilizers.
Barker says the headphones, which surpassed the permitted limit of both metals, are evidence that monitoring and laws on toxic substance regulations must be strengthened.
Food cans lined with bisphenol A, also known as BPA, are another product on which Environmental Defence shares concerns. The chemical, which aids in the hardening of plastics, was added to Canada’s list of dangerous substances in 2010 after research connected it to prostate and breast cancer, infertility, and behavioural issues in children. That same year, it was outlawed in baby bottles and other plastic baby products.
Environmental Defence’s toxics program manager, Cassie Barker, says a product might be broken or worn out; hence the limit should apply to the whole product rather than just the parts of it.
But it is still allowed in products such as food cans, said Barker. Some companies have moved away from using the substance, but 60 per cent of the cans the organization tested contained it.
The organization urges Environment Canada to mandate that companies must label all potentially harmful components used in products, including those found in electronics or packaging and those concealed inside them. Additionally, it urges increased product testing and regulatory enforcement so that dangerous goods can be discovered before they reach retail shelves.
According to Barker, since these shops are frequently the only option for those living in underprivileged communities or on low incomes, the tests were conducted on products from dollar stores.
A statement from Dollarama says consumer product safety is our top priority, and we have strong procedures and controls in place to monitor product safety and quality. In addition, the four Dollarama product categories—stereo headphones, earbuds, pencil pouches, and activity trackers—that were mentioned in the research all adhere to Canadian product regulations and are secure to use as intended.
Source: Environmental Defence
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