2008.03 Toxic Substances in Household Products

December 20, 2013


Whereas, Many household products contain known toxic substances that are not prohibited by Health Canada; and

Whereas, Toxic substances found in many household products can be detrimental to one’s health; and

Whereas, Current legislation does not require labels on household products to list suspected toxic substances and their related health risks; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 88th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to:

  • prohibit the use of known toxic substances in household products
  • require clear labeling of suspected toxic substances and related risks on household products

BRIEF: Toxic Substances in Household Products

Some household products contain known or suspected toxic substances that have long-term or delayed health effects. “Some ingredients may be carcinogens or reproductive toxins. Some may be endocrine-disrupting chemicals?” (Labour, Toxins In , p. 1). Household products do not need to contain toxic substances to be effective, as evidenced by the many household products without toxic substances that are available on the market or made by consumers in their homes.

Prohibiting the use of toxic substances and identifying suspected toxic substances in household products could result in a decrease in health problems and related health care costs. Consumers would develop a greater awareness of the health risks and be better able to make informed choices with ingredient labelling.

Consumers tend to rely on government agencies to regulate chemicals, especially those posing health risks. “At the federal level, our health and environment is protected through numerous laws that govern chemical substances, including those in food, drugs, pesticides and products” (Government of Canada, Canada’s Approach , p. 1).

Product labelling is the responsibility of government. “Individuals should be able to read a label that says ‘contains epichlorohydrin, a suspected carcinogen’ and choose to not buy the product. Most individuals wouldn’t know what epichlorohydrin was if it simply appeared on an ingredients list” (Wooley, p. 2).

Private member’s Bill C-553, An Act to ensure that warning labels are affixed to products containing toxic substances, which received first reading in the House of Commons on May 29, 2008, is a first step. Although this shows some initiative, further concerted efforts are required.


Government of Canada. Bill C-553 An Act to ensure that warning labels are affixed to products containing toxic substances. Short title, Toxic Substance Labelling Act. First reading May 29, 2008. http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=3525643&Language=e&Mode=1.

Government of Canada. Canada’s approach on chemical substances. (Chemical substances: an ecoACTION initiative.) http://www.chemicalsubstanceschimiques.gc.ca/substance/what-quoi/index_e.html.

Hillborn, Dan. Hazards of Commercial Household Cleanershttp://leas.ca/Hazards-of-Commercial-Household-Cleaners.htm, November 7, 2005. Labour Environmental Alliance Society.

Labour Environmental Alliance Society. Toxins in Household Products. http://leas.ca/Toxins-in-Household-Products.htm, December 14, 2005.

Labour Environmental Alliance Society. Top Toxic Targets. http://leas.ca/top-Toxic-Targets.htm, October 13, 2005 .

Labour Environmental Alliance Society. Toxins Tablehttp://www.leas.ca/Toxins-Table.htm, October 13, 2005.

Woolley, Pieta. Avoid toxins by thinking like a scientisthttp://www.straight.com/article-146395/you-can-avoid-toxins-thinking-a-scientist, May 22, 2008 .

Requested Members’ Action:

  • Write letters to government urging legislation to restrict toxic substances in household products. Send to the federal and provincial governments including the prime minister and premier, the ministers of justice, health and the environment and the local member of parliament and member of provincial legislative assembly.
  • Monitor Bill C-553, An Act to ensure that warning labels are affixed to products containing toxic substances.
  • Use increased vigilance to prevent the purchase of items containing toxic substances. Write letters to manufacturers of items containing toxic substances stating concerns regarding the longer term impact on the health of humans and the environment.
  • Provide educational opportunities concerning the harmful effects of toxic substances in household products and the effective use of green household products.