Summary of public comments received on the draft screening assessment for acetonitrile

Comments on the Draft Screening Assessment for acetonitrile, assessed under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).

Summarized public comments and responses are provided below, organized by topic:

Sources and releases

Summarized commentSummarized response
Additional sources of human and ecological exposure for acetonitrile should be considered in the screening assessment.Screening assessments are based on the best available data during a specified time period. Additional information may become available by the time of publication of the draft screening assessment report. No new information was identified that would impact exposure of Canadians or their environment.


Summarized commentSummarized response
More information should be provided in the screening assessment on the biotransformation of acetonitrile since the intermediate chemical compounds formed during biotransformation are more toxic than the parent chemical compound itself. Additional research should also be carried out to confirm the formation of cyanide and formaldehyde from acetonitrile. Depending on the percentage of formaldehyde formation, the conclusion on the toxicity of acetonitrile should be updated.The assessment considers effects caused by exposure to the parent compound, acetonitrile. Toxicity from products of biotransformation would be accounted for in the outcomes of the toxicity studies on the parent compound. 

Human health assessment

Summarized commentSummarized response
This assessment should consider documented cases of fatal acetonitrile poisoning, including from cosmetic products. Accounts of fatal acetonitrile poisonings do not contribute to the determination of risk to the general population of Canada.
Under the CMP, screening assessments focus on risks of exposure to the general population, rather than risks of exposures in the workplace or risks from unintended use of products available to consumers. 
Health Canada should provide more information on exposure and sources of acetonitrile, such as levels permitted in cosmetics.Acetonitrile is described on Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist as being prohibited for use in cosmetic products.
Acetonitrile causes many symptoms at various levels of exposure. Clinicians should be aware of the delayed onset of signs and symptoms following exposure to acetonitrile.Noted. 

Occupational exposure

Summarized commentSummarized response
Ongoing biomonitoring of acetonitrile in workers should be investigated as a method for monitoring occupational exposure.Under the CMP, screening assessments focus on risks of exposure to the general population, rather than risks of exposures in the workplace. Hazards related to chemicals used in the workplace are defined within the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).The Government of Canada is currently working with the provinces and territories to explore ways to enhance the protection of workers from exposure to chemicals by integrating and leveraging the information, tools, and/or technical expertise of the CMP and Health Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Products Program. For more information, please visit: An Integrated Strategy for the Protection of Canadian Workers from Exposure to Chemicals; publication date: 2019-07-11.
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