ASTM in Canada

Cicely Enright

A look at the ways Canadian government and industry use ASTM standards to ensure health and safety and set the wheels of commerce in motion.

Canada, the second largest country in the world, stretches from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans and north to the Arctic Ocean. Its standardization program takes in both national and private groups, including ASTM International, which was accredited by the Standards Council of Canada in 2013.

More than 1,400 Canadian members participate across the breadth of ASTM technical committees, adding their expertise to globally recognized standards used for materials, manufacturing, trade and more.

Canadian federal and provincial government departments and agencies often adopt or reference standards from ASTM in their regulations. Other ASTM standards form part of the web of documentation that serves diverse industries from construction to consumer products. And because ASTM is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, industry and businesses there have a world-renowned standards development option.

Protecting Consumers

A cyclist swoops downhill, the fields along the road laid out like a green patchwork, bicycle spokes catching the sun. A helmet, designed for speed, ventilation and safety, protects the rider's head.

The helmet, produced by Louis Garneau Sports of Quebec, meets an ASTM standard (F1447), focused on safety through a series of performance tests.

That's just one Canadian consumer product that meets ASTM standards.

Canadian regulations cite ASTM standards for other goods, and Canada-based companies use ASTM standards to provide products for both local and international markets.

Consider toys. Toys that comply with ASTM's Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety (F963), one of ASTM's most detailed and respected standards, help protect young children from sharp edges, toxins, magnets, small parts and other potential dangers. The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act regulates the performance and safety requirements of toys in Canada. The Canadian definition of a toy in the CCPSA is consistent with the definition in ASTM F963. In addition, and more importantly, with the support of Canadian stakeholders in the ASTM process, efforts are ongoing to align the regulatory requirements for children's toys in the CCPSA and ASTM F963.

Another example comes from a recently published ASTM standard also designed to protect children. Health Canada helped develop the standard for liquid laundry packets (F3159), which calls for packaging that makes packets, labeled with warnings, harder for children to open.

And babies are safer with the work of ASTM and Canadian groups on aligning their current crib standards. Here, the ASTM specification (F1169) helps protect little ones through requirements to help ensure the furniture stays together.

If you have a knee or hip replacement, ASTM standards may cover the metal alloy in the implant, the coating over it and the surgical instruments used to place it. Canadian regulations reference these standards.

From gas containers to amusement rides, standards form the basis for product safety and may be cited in Canadian regulations. Worldwide, products that conform to such safety standards help protect people.

Equal Opportunity for All Firms

At ASTM, smaller firms don't get lost among larger organizations, according to Tanya Dhir, P.Eng., a principal at Canadian solar firm Relsol. Relsol has fewer than 50 employees and provides photovoltaic-related services. She adds that being able to participate equally means that Relsol can impact the direction of industry. That's just one benefit.

"Published standards are a wealth of information," she says. "Smaller companies, those new to a field, and those in places like Canada where there may be a smaller number of experts, all gain from the useful information in standards. Because smaller firms strive to be nimble, responsive, and innovative, their contributions to standards development can help advance new and improved products.

Among the advantages for small Canadian businesses participating in standards development at ASTM:

  • Meet suppliers and clients from all over the world;
  • Talk with other experts to develop useful and fair standards;
  • Share with those doing research that might affect industry trends;
  • Contribute to standards that might be used in Canada or other markets.

Relsol uses standards from ASTM Committee E44 on Solar, Geothermal and Other Alternative Energy Sources. "Most ASTM E44 standards are technology-dependent and not location-specific," she says. "They can be easily adopted. Having this common set of technical standards available worldwide creates consistency and supports trade."

Reach the World

ASTM standards support goods produced in Canada and shipped to faraway places around the globe. Many Canadian companies export goods with the help of ASTM standards.

Cross-linked polyethylene pipe and ASTM standards go together to support the Ontario arm of a plumbing/climate systems corporation named Uponor. The company uses ASTM product standards and tests in its manufacturing plants in North America where its products are sold and outside North America as well. Uponor also relies on ASTM standards to prove their product's sustainability wherever it's used.

British Columbia-headquartered amusement ride company WhiteWater and its global clients speak the same language by using ASTM standards. The company relies on ASTM standards for attraction design (F2291 and F1159) and for the manufacture, operation and maintenance of water play equipment (F2461).

From "berry blast" to "turtle green," crayons from Rose Art, a Canadian branch of an art and toy company, come ready for action. The label states the crayons' conformance to ASTM D4236, a standard that describes how to label paints and other art materials for potential safety issues.

ASTM copper standards that cover materials and products are widely referenced by Canadian industry, government, code bodies and others. The ASTM copper committee has long worked to ensure the acceptance of its standards in Canada and with Canada's trading partners such as the United States.

ASTM standards help ensure robust global commerce from these and other Canadian companies, helping them speak the same language with their clients worldwide while ensuring a common understanding of the basis for product and process quality.

Build Infrastructure

Your home, your office, your neighborhood store - you assume buildings will serve their purposes. Standards for their components and performance, including those from ASTM, help ensure that they work as they should and stand up to nature's hazards, whether hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis.

For example, the structural wood products in residential and commercial construction in Canada must conform to Canadian building codes. Both the national and provincial codes cite ASTM standards, such as D5055 for prefabricated wood I-joists and D5456 for structural composite lumber from Committee D07 on Wood. Another useful standard is the test methods for the strength of wood panels for building construction from Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings (E72). Additionally, acoustics performance and gypsum standards are also cited.

Also, before construction of any sort may begin, testing soil for its strength may need to be done with the help of standards from Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, such as D1586, which is used during many geotechnical investigations. Standards are also commonly used to ensure quality during construction of most civil engineering structures. An example is D6938 used in testing the fill materials placed prior to building foundations. Monitoring soil responses during construction can also be necessary, especially in heavily developed areas. New Brunswick-based Measurand Inc. produces devices to do specialized monitoring of soil or structural deformation, and its staff participates in developing and revising D18 standards.

Patriot Forge, a Canadian supplier of forged materials for infrastructure components often uses ASTM standards to show its products' compliance. For example, the company adheres to the specification for valves used in pressure systems (A182) and another specification for steel mill and marine shafts (A668). An additional standard from Committee A01 on Steel, Stainless Steel and Related Alloys - A370, Test Methods and Definitions for Mechanical Testing of Steel Products - is used to confirm required properties of Patriot Forge's products.

The Canadian government also references procedures for checking building paint and parts. For instance, one procedure (D4124) sets out how to evaluate exterior paint that forms a chalky powder on its surface and a practice (B117) covers how to evaluate metals in salt environments.

Determine Fuel Quality

Canadian energy sources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are supported by ASTM standards.

Coal - used in Canada to generate electricity among other purposes - helps to light and heat homes and offices. Numerous ASTM standards play a part in determining coal quality for its intended purpose. Tests from Committee D05 on Coal and Coke help evaluate its overall chemistry, thermal rheology, microscopy and more. These standards provide sound technical evidence to international customers and clients who want to use coal for various applications. In addition, the Canadian government requires the reporting of greenhouse gases, and methods from D05 can be used to do so.

Standards also help ensure that cars are fueled with satisfactory gasoline. From crude to the pump, Canadian petroleum products are checked and tested with standards from Committee D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants. The tests quoted in national fuel standards verify performance requirements and check for impurities to help ensure overall fuel quality.

Canada, one of the world's largest natural gas producers and exporters, also consumes that fuel across the country for hot water and heat as well as to power stoves and cars. Regulations cite key standards from Committee D03 on Gaseous Fuels such as the test to analyze natural gas by gas chromatography (D1945) and a test to determine the heating value of natural gas (D1826).

Issue Month
Issue Year