If you thought that pest control products can’t be found at your local clothier, you haven’t been reading Canada’s Pest Control Products Act.

A pest control product under that Act includes any:

“product… that is manufactured, represented, distributed or used as a means for directly or indirectly controlling, destroying, attracting or repelling a pest”  

Still not following?  Micro-organisms that are “injurious, noxious or [have] troublesome effects” are pests under the Act and your gym shirt which promises the latest in anti-microbial technology to control odour is a pest control product, no?

No Canadian “Treated Articles” Exemption

The United States EPA has a “treated articles exemption” set out in 40 CFR 152.25(a) which exempts from registration, as a pesticide product, qualifying treated articles and substances with claims to protect the article or substance itself, such as “no stink” assurances.

Further, the U.S. EPA has (helpfully) published a guidance document, PRN 2000-1 Applicability of the Treated Articles Exemption to Antimicrobial Pesticides which clarifies the types of claims (and related marketing) that anti-microbial textiles can make.

Canada?  The promised policy on treated articles from the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency is long overdue.

Why Clarity is Needed

The list is likely long but here are a few:

  • for environmental health and safety purposes, pest control products are (nearly) comprehensively regulated by the PMRA under the Act, thereby excepting the producers of these products from the general regulatory obligations from Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada that would otherwise apply.  Knowing which regime you’re under is critical to compliance;
  • the coming PMRA expansion of registration requirements for all pest control products/ingredients in Canada makes it imperative that producers and retailers understand how any treated articles exemption would relieve them of this registration obligation; and
  • the international branding and marketing of the product will likely affect its characterization by the PMRA, as it does in the US and EU.

In short, it’s time that producers and retailers learned just exactly when a garment is not just a garment under the Pest Control Products Act.


Jonathan D. Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of the firm's Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations. Mr. Cocker was recently appointed the first Sustainability Officer of the International Bar Association Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on environmental issues and has authored numerous publications including recent publications in the Environment and Climate Change Law Review, Detritus – the Official Journal of the International Waste Working Group, Chemical Watch, Circular Economy: Global Perspectives published by Springer, and in the upcoming Yale University Journal of Industrial Ecology’s special issue on Material Efficiency for Climate Change Mitigation. Mr. Cocker maintains a blog focused upon international resource recovery issues at environmentlawinsights.com.