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Who's lookingIf you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country where summer has actually arrived, and even luckier to have access to a swimming pool, that pool almost certainly uses some form of chemical to keep algae and other microbes under control. Such chemicals are “antimicrobial pesticides”, which must be registered under Canada’s Pest Control Products Act. But if you ever look closely at a bag of pool salt, used in so-called “salt water pools”, you’ll see that it doesn’t bear a Pest Control Products Act registration. What’s going on?

The United States takes a straightforward approach. Ordinary substances, such as salt and lavender, are expressly exempt from pesticide registration.  Canada makes it all more complicated. According to our Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA):

sodium chloride (99.45%) for use with electronic chlorine generator systems…  fits the definition of a pest control product and falls under the regulation of the Pest Control Product Act and Regulation given
its specific claims to indirectly control micro-organisms as pests for use in swimming pools.  However, sodium chloride, proposed for the above-noted specific use [and which contains no additives], would not require a formal registration application and no pest control product number will be issued….
[Our] decision above is based on the following understanding:
the product in question is used with chlorine generator systems which are generally required for registration by the PMRA prior to marketing; In other words, the pesticidal effect and the related efficy and risks
of the combinational use of chlorine generator and the salt are assessed as a package.
the product chemical analysis demonstrates the purity level of the salt to be of reasonable grade and the labelling specifies the lack of antimicrobial activities related to its sole use; and,
the salt itself has no antimicrobial effect at the levels commonly used in pools and is used as a precursor for generating “available chlorine” of oxidizing properties on bacteria…

In other words, the PMRA  has given pool salt an administrative exemption from regulation, one not disclosed in its regulations or on its website. Apparently, the PMRA is “considering” setting up a new webpage, like the one used in the US, to tell the public about such exemptions. It’s time.

One question remains: why isn’t the PMRA doing anything about the vendors selling pool salt with additives, like Sifto’s “stain fighter” without registration?

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