Waste/used crankcase oils: priority substance list follow-up report

Table of contents

Environment Canada
August 2005

List of acronyms and abbreviations


Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment


Canadian Environmental Protection Act

CEPA 1999

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999


Canadian Standards Association


Critical Toxicity Value


do-it-yourself oil changer


Estimated Exposure Value


Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations


Estimated No-Effects Value


Hazardous Waste Task Group


No-Observed-Effect Concentration


Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy


polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon


polychlorinated biphenyl


Priority Substances List


first Priority Substances List


Threshold Effects Level


Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada


used crankcase oils


waste crankcase oils


Waste crankcase oils (WCO), which appeared on the first Priority Substances List (PSL1), were assessed to determine whether they should be considered "toxic" as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). With the data available at that time, it was concluded in the PSL1 assessment that there was insufficient information to conclude whether WCOs constituted a danger to the environment under paragraph 11(a) of CEPA, due to lack of exposure and effects data for the selected scenarios of concern (i.e., re-refining, burning as fuel, dust suppressant and land disposal) (Government of Canada, 1994).

Various components of WCO are listed on Schedule 1, List of Toxic Substances, under CEPA 1999, including arsenic and its compounds; benzene; cadmium; chromium and its compounds; acidic, sulfidic and soluble inorganic nickel; PAHs; and lead.

Since the publication of the PSL1 report on WCO, no new exposure or effects data have been found in the literature for the above-noted scenarios. However, new information on exposure and effects from leakage of WCO from the crankcases of vehicles was found in the literature. Studies on roadway runoff provide a link between release of WCO from vehicles and effects on benthic organisms, which also include changes in the biodiversity of sediment fauna. As a result, this new information was used as a surrogate for the dust suppressant and land disposal scenarios to show possible effects on sediment biota and change in species diversity that can result from exposure to WCO.

For the purpose of the follow-up report, the name Waste Crankcase Oils (WCO) has been changed to Used Crankcase Oils (UCO) to better represent the substance assessed.

Based on the findings of the analysis of data published between 1993 and 2000 on the exposure and effects of used crankcase oils to aquatic ecosystems, it is concluded that used crankcase oils are entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity. It is concluded that used crankcase oils be considered "toxic" under paragraph 64(a) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).

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