When brushing your teeth, sitting on your couch, or cleaning your kitchen counter, you could be unknowingly exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. Nasty chemicals continue to linger in products Canadians use daily, and many of these toxic chemicals have links to serious health issues like cancer, obesity, or asthma.

The Solution

To protect human health, we need to reduce Canadians’ exposure to toxic chemicals in products we use every day. That means industry action to take harmful ingredients out of consumer products, government action to ban and restrict toxic chemicals and informed consumers equipped with the knowledge to choose safe options when they shop.

Label it

Consumers don’t always know what’s in the products they buy. We’re working to make full ingredient disclosure on product labels a reality—including warnings if there are any chemicals linked to cancer present.

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Getting the toxics out

Canadians shouldn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals in products in the first place. That’s why we're working hard to get toxic chemicals like triclosan banned, phased-out or restricted by provincial and federal governments.

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Educate Yourself

Avoiding toxic chemicals in everyday products gets much easier once you know what to look for. To help, we provide downloadable guides and a list of our Just Beautiful Pledge companies; we also organize free community workshops with other organizations.

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Breaking News

We need continued progress on environmental funding in the federal budget

  The upcoming federal budget will be another sign of how seriously the government intends to tackle Canada’s environmental issues – many of which are far from...

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3 ways to have a toxic-free Valentine’s Day this year

Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? Many popular Valentine’s gifts might not be so good for you,...

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Canada misses the mark (again) in its decision to not ban harmful phthalates

If you were told that your go-to brand of cheese contained a toxic ingredient, would you continue to eat it? What if it was your...

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Asbestos found in Claire’s makeup – another reason why action is needed to protect Canadians from toxics

Last week, Claire’s, an international retailer of teen accessories and cosmetics, recalled nine makeup kits (including eye shadow and blush) after a lab found traces...

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Timeline of our success


Canada announces microbeads ban

After we mobilized ten thousands of Canadians, the federal government announced its plans to ban microbeads in personal care products by mid-2019. This step came after the harmful plastic bits were declared 'toxic' under federal law in June.


Removing the Stain  report is published

Our report, Removing the Stain, sheds light on how cancer-causing chemicals continue to pollute dry cleaning workers and nearby residents. It’s time to transition to non-toxic wet cleaning.


The dirty truth report   is published

With our first-of-its-kind study on household cleaning, The Dirty Truth, we showed that common cleaning products are adding to indoor air pollution through volatile organic compounds, a group of chemicals linked to serious health problems like asthma.


Loblaw phases out phthalates and triclosan

Because of efforts of concerned consumers and organizations like ours, Loblaw, one of Canada’s largest retailers, announced the phasing out of phthalates and triclosan from its store brand products (along with microbeads).


Restrictions on neonics in Ontario

We helped raise awareness about the dangers of neonicotinoids (neonics)—a group of pesticides known to kill bees and other pollinators. In June, new restrictions on neonics in the province of Ontario were announced.


New restrictions on formaldehyde in cosmetics

As we continue to raise concerns about harmful ingredients in cosmetics, the federal government’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist includes new restrictions on formaldehyde in cosmetics.


We ran chemical detectives workshops

To help Canadians learn more about how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals in their homes, we launched the Chemical Detective workshops. Since then, workshops have been conducted in communities from Halifax to Vancouver.


Toxin Toxout  is published

Toxin Toxout, the follow-up to Slow Death by Rubber Duck, by Rick Smith (special volunteer advisor to Environmental Defence) and Bruce Lourie (former Environmental Defence board member) is published and becomes a Canadian best-seller.


Pre-polluted  report is released

We published our report Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns which contains first of its kind evidence demonstrating that babies are being burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born.


Restrictions for heavy metals in cosmetics announced

Only two years after launching our Just Beautiful campaign, new Canadian restrictions for heavy metals in cosmetics are announced.


The trouble with triclosan  is published

Our report The Trouble with Triclosan raised the alarm about this hormone-disrupting, anti-bacterial chemical. The same year, Environment Canada declared triclosan toxic to the environment.


Phthalates restricted in Canadian toys

After years of raising awareness of the negative health impacts of phthalates, this hormone disruptor was banned or restricted for use in Canadian toys.


Just Beautiful campaign launches

We launched our Just Beautiful campaign to educate Canadians about toxic chemicals in cosmetics and created the Just Beautiful Pledge to recognize manufacturers who make safer personal care products.


Chemicals Management Plan and Consumer Products Safety Act are implemented

The federal government institutes the Chemicals Management Plan and Consumer Products Safety Act, responding to our outreach and public education to limit toxics chemicals.


Slow Death by Rubber Duck  is published

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health, co-authored by our then Executive Director Dr. Rick Smith and Board President Bruce Lourie, made the bestseller list for 16 weeks in Canada.


Canada bans BPA

Canada banned Bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles thanks to our work educating parents about this toxic chemical.


Polluted Children, Toxic Nation Report  is published

We published the report Polluted Children, Toxic Nation—the first Canadian study to test for harmful chemicals like PCBs and flame retardants in children's bodies.


said no to pressure treated wood in children's playgrounds

We spurred cities across Canada into action after releasing a report showing arsenic was polluting the sand of children’s playgrounds made with pressure treated wood.


Big problems require big solutions, and all of us can help make the changes we want to see. By signing petitions and attending events, you can make your voice heard and help to affect change.

"After 10 years as a beauty industry professional, I became ill. Since, I have made it my mission to offer safer products, techniques and promote a healthier attitude to beauty. And that is why I support the work of Environmental Defence."

--Brian Phillips, Owner of worldSALON


At Environmental Defence, we educate the public about a host of environmental issues, work with business and government leaders to advise on policy decisions and mobilize Canadians to create the cleaner, greener more prosperous country we’re striving for. Meet the team who works on Toxics.

Muhannad Malas

Program Manager, Toxics

Sarah Jamal

Program Coordinator, Toxics

Join The Community

Sign up for our Kicking out Toxic Chemicals e-newsletter to find out how you can get involved and get toxic chemicals out of consumer products. We will send you a quarterly update on our campaigns, invitations to join us at events and opportunities for you to take action.

As a subscriber to Environmental Defence, you will receive our monthly Defender News – a roundup of our biggest news stories of the month. You can also receive quarterly updates from our team specific campaign areas tailored to your interests.

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