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Canada Acts to Further Phase Out Mercury-Containing Lamps

Canada Acts to Further Phase Out Mercury-Containing Lamps

GATINEAU, Quebec — Over the years, the Government of Canada has taken firm action to protect Canadians and their environment from the harmful effects of mercury, including through its Products Containing Mercury Regulations, which made Canada one of the leading countries to prohibit mercury-containing products.

On June 19th, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced the publication of the final Regulations Amending the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, which will prohibit the import and manufacture of the most common lamps containing mercury for general lighting purposes as of December 31, 2025.

These regulations are the final step that will allow Canada to fully align with the International Minamata Convention on Mercury for products. Prohibiting the manufacture and import of the most common lamps containing mercury in Canada is identified as a key priority in the National Strategy for Lamps Containing Mercury, which seeks to eliminate lamps as a source of mercury pollution in Canada. By 2035, it is expected that the regulations will allow Canada to decrease the quantity of mercury released from lamps into the environment by 91 percent (681 kilograms) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4.6 megatonnes.

Since the adoption of the Products Containing Mercury Regulations in 2015, the market for mercury-containing products has declined, and most lamps initially exempt from prohibition now have readily available substitutes in Canada. To facilitate the transition to mercury-free alternatives for lamps that are already in use, the regulations will allow a two-year exemption for replacement lamps to continue to be imported or manufactured for pin-base compact fluorescent lamps, straight fluorescent lamps, and non-linear fluorescent lamps until the end of 2027. Retailers will be allowed to sell their stock of replacement lamps until the end of 2029.

“As a known toxic substance, mercury has been managed in many ways over the past fifty years.” said Guilbeault. “We’ve seen the release of mercury into the air and water decline by half since 2007. It is crucial that we continue to protect the health of Canadians and their environment, while encouraging businesses to transition to safer alternatives.”

Holland stated: “Given the significant negative impact of mercury on human health, natural resources and the environment, we have further strengthened our regulations in an effort to reduce the use and release of mercury into our surroundings. These measures are part of our ongoing commitment to minimizing mercury exposure, and we will continue collaborating with our various partners to further protect public health and the environment.”

Quick facts

  • Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the environment and can be converted into various forms, including methylmercury, a highly toxic compound that accumulates in living organisms.
  • The main exposure for humans is by consuming fish or fish-eating mammals that have heightened levels of methylmercury.
  • In humans, methylmercury affects the central nervous system and is particularly damaging to fetuses, infants, and young children, who are vulnerable due to their developing nervous systems.
  • In animals, mercury exposure is associated with neurological and reproductive effects.
  • Mercury was one of the first substances added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
  • The regulations will apply to screw-base compact fluorescent lamps, pin-base compact fluorescent lamps, straight fluorescent lamps, and non-linear fluorescent lamps for new installation.
  • Lamps used for essential purposes that do not have viable mercury-free alternatives, such as those to treat water or to grow plants, will remain exempted at this time.
  • Although they are safe to use, when a lamp containing mercury breaks, the mercury can be released and contaminate the room you are in and the environment. It is important to safely handle and recycle these lamps.
  • In Canada, different ways to dispose of lamps containing mercury are available depending on where you live. For provinces with a light-recycling extended producer responsibility program, visit Product Care Recycling for your closest depot. For other provinces and territories, contact your local municipality for safe disposal opportunities near you.
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