The Domestic Substances List (DSL) and the Non-Domestic Substances List (NDSL) Are Not the Same

 In Product Safety, Regulatory Affairs

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

Products that are intended for sale within Canada must meet the requirements of a variety of different regulations. There are a multitude of questions you must ask yourself before you import these products into Canada and when you are formulating new products intended for sale into Canada. The first question you must ask yourself –  Are your chemicals listed on the Domestic Substances List (DSL)?

One of my biggest pet peeves on a supplier SDS is when the regulatory section states the following:

The chemicals are listed on the DSL or NDSL list.

Well, which one is it? Are all ingredients on the DSL? Or are there some chemicals that are NOT on the DSL list? Are they on the NDSL list?

If you are a company that creates software to create SDS, please consider changing the way you state this on a Safety Data Sheet. Knowledge of the chemicals being imported into Canada is important. In Canada, we have two DISTINCT lists.

Back in May 4 of 1994, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the Domestic Substances List (DSL) in Part II of the Canada Gazette. The DSL list at that point in time was an inventory of approximately 23 000 substances manufactured in, imported into, or used within Canada on a commercial scale. According to the current website, there are approximately 12 updates per year to add, update or delete substances from this list.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protections Act (CEPA), all chemical substances imported to, or manufactured within Canada must be assessed for risk to human health as well as the environment. Any substance not included on the DSL is considered a New Substance and is subject to the New Substance Notification Regulations (NSNR). The NSNR applies to chemicals, polymers, biochemicals, biopolymers, and animate products of biotechnology (living organisms) such as bacteria, fungi, and genetically modified fish and livestock.

It is crucial that the DSL status is determined prior to importation as there may be notification requirements depending on what you plan to import.

One important thing to note and understand is that although a chemical may be on the EINECS list within Europe or on the TSCA list for the US, does not mean that it is on the DSL for Canada. Your chemicals should be checked for compliance before importation and if possible while in the formulation stage.

It is highly recommended that you check with your suppliers ahead of time to ensure you know the status of the individual ingredients within your product and if your supplier SDSs indicate the statement I discussed earlier, obtain a letter in writing indicating the status of the ingredients.

If you need help understanding the difference between the two lists, would like us to check the lists while in the formulation stage or need help with the notification process, let us know.

Note that checking the DSL is part of our SDS and CCCR Consumer Label consulting service. We will look over the formulation received and let you know the status.

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety Group

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.

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