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The co-chairs opened the third council meeting with the introduction of new members and with a re-affirmation of the government's commitment to the CMP despite recent delays.
The co-chairs announced that they would be distributing copies of the public summary documents corresponding to upcoming releases of batches 2 and 8, and announced upcoming publication dates for batches 5 and 3. An update was provided on the status of some non-Challenge assessments, including aluminum salts and deca-BDE. Some members shared their concerns that changes to deadlines for public comments periods could be problematic if too many of them occur at once.
An update was provided by the co-chairs on the recent activity of the Challenge Advisory Panel. On October 20 and 22, 2008 the panel had discussed vinyl acetate and the change in conclusion from non-threshold carcinogen to threshold carcinogen. The Panel supported this conclusion based on the weight of evidence provided.
A presentation was made on developing a priority-setting framework for post-Challenge substances. The framework to select a new round of priority substances has been informed by two stakeholder workshops held in June and November, 2008. Factors being considered for priority setting include: results from assessments performed by other jurisdictions; classification as persistent or bioaccumulative, and inherently toxic; modelling and available hazard calculation tools; functions, uses and sectoral distribution of substances; and existing or upcoming regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives. The next steps include expanded consultations with stakeholders; developing proposals for groups of substances; and filling data gaps via the DSL Inventory Update exercise.
Council members asked questions related to uncertain substances and data gaps. A number of members expressed interest in knowing more about Canadian cooperation with international initiatives on chemicals. The co-chairs clarified that Canada continues to work with the European Union and United States Environmental Protection Agency on areas of mutual interest. One council member expressed a desire to have more clarity around how stakeholders can engage in the specific issues presented and suggested that a more comprehensive discussion needs to be put into place to address each one of these issues.
A presentation was given on the approach that is being taken to updating information for a subset of substances on the Domestic Substances List (DSL). This presentation took into account the outcomes of a multi-stakeholder workshop held in November 2008. Main areas under discussion include: data needs, proposed approaches, proposed elements for data collection, quantity triggers for reporting requirements and timing. There was a consensus at the workshop that the Inventory Update is necessary, but that some prioritization may be necessary given the size of the workload for this project. Some members were interested in having an inclusive inventory while others responded that some information or data could be difficult to track down. The next steps for this project include revision of the discussion document based on stakeholder views, an internal review to insure that the project will meet internal needs, further opportunity to comment by a wider stakeholder group and potentially new approaches to sharing future drafts and results (i.e. using the Chemical Substances website).
Concern was expressed by a stakeholder that aboriginal groups have not been engaged in discussions on the Inventory Update and that it is important to engage vulnerable populations. The co-chairs agreed to look at options for informing the group of workshops and other relevant events. The question of what the CMP will look like after 2010 was raised and there was some discussion of elements that should be kept (batching of substances) and those that may be subject to change (number of substances). A number of stakeholders raised the issue of imported products and the importance of applying the Inventory Update to substances in these products. Other stakeholders disagreed with this approach, saying that the data would not be available or would be too difficult to obtain. Overall, Council members agreed that while the CMP was difficult to get started, it would be most effective and easiest to keep it going now while the momentum and focus are strong.
A presentation was given on biomonitoring for chemicals in the Canadian population, mainly focused on the preliminary outcomes of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), published in November 2008. The methodology of the survey was described and preliminary results were presented. Cycle 2 of the CHMS will be launched in Fall 2009, and an overview of what will be included in the second cycle was presented.
The discussion during and following the presentation was focused mainly on clarifying the methodology of the survey and the use of the published data. One stakeholder had specific concerns related to endocrine disrupting substances (EDS) and whether government scientists have a mechanism for sharing data on these substances with one another and with the public. The suggestion was made to put a link to EDS data on the Chemical Substances website. The Health Canada chair agreed to look into this.
The co-chairs noted that the proposed agenda items for the next meeting included risk communications, monitoring and surveillance, and an annual evaluation of the council as mandated by the group's Terms of Reference. They asked council members if there were different or additional items that should be included, and they received a number of suggestions, including: a closer look at risk assessments and how decisions are made in the risk management phase; international linkages with CMP; a presentation on the long-term expectations of the CMP; and an expert speaker to discuss Canadian and international activities on endocrine-disrupting substances. Some members expressed concern that the council is being consulted as a formality rather than as a true advisory body. In response to a request for more substantive, detailed discussion and debate, the importance of the council's role in keeping a program-wide view and providing input as required was noted. The co-chairs concluded the third meeting by thanking council members for their participation.