Quebec cosmetics company fined $500K for not reporting PFAS in eye, lip pencils

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A Quebec-based cosmetics company has been fined $500,000 for using perfluorononyl dimethicone in eye and lip pencil products without previously providing the government with the required regulatory information.

The company, Groupe Marcelle Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The cosmetic ingredient perfluorononyl dimethicone is a silicone polymer used in cosmetic products to increase the hold, durability, spreadability, and water or oil resistance of cosmetics applied to the skin. It is one of the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of thousands of synthetic substances. 

The products were discovered between April 15, 2021 and May 18, 2022, when Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers conducted audits and an inspection at the premises of Groupe Marcelle in Dorval, Quebec. 

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The products in question have since been withdrawn from the company’s distribution chain, according to an enforcement notification from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

By using perfluorononyl dimethicone in the eye and lip pencil products  without having previously provided the government with the required regulatory information, Groupe Marcelle committed an offence under subsection 81(4) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. 

Cosmetics Alliance Canada (CAC) noted to its members that use of perfluorononyl dimethicone is subject to a Significant New Activity (SNAc) Notice – 14673 (2007).   

“In this case, the use/import of this ingredient in a cosmetic/personal care product would be considered a ‘new activity’ for which supplemental data must be notified at least 90 days prior to commencing these activities through the submission of a Significant New Activity Notification,” the CAC notes in a June 2022 statement to members that addresses the federal enforcement blitz around the ingredient. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada noted that a draft assessment of the potential risks of PFAS substances to the environment and human health was published in May 2023. 

As a result of the conviction, Groupe Marcelle will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.


Related Professional Development Course 

Attend “Environmental Regulation & Compliance 2024” on April 23rd at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario. Attendees will learn about environmental regulations, including CEPA, enforcement trends, due diligence, and more. Visit www.canect.net for more information. 

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