Toxic substances list: chlorinated alkanes

The term paraffins used to identify these substances was changed to alkanes to harmonize with more current nomenclature that is recognized by other jurisdictions and international bodies.

Chlorinated alkanes are chlorinated hydrocarbons (n-alkanes) that can have carbon chain lengths ranging from 10 to 38 carbon atoms. They are generally grouped by chain length: short-chain chlorinated alkanes (containing 10-13 carbon atoms), medium-chain chlorinated alkanes (containing 14-17 carbon atoms) and long-chain chlorinated alkanes (with 18 or more carbon atoms). Short-chain chlorinated alkanes have been found in the Arctic food web. The higher volatility of certain short-chain compounds suggests that their presence resulted from long-range atmospheric transportation.

Chlorinated alkanes are no longer manufactured in Canada, but are still imported into Canada and used in the manufacturing of rubber and the formulation of metalworking fluids (i.e. cutting fluids, high pressure lubricating oils). Other uses include as a plasticizer or flame retardant in various plastics or formulated chemical products (e.g. adhesives, paints, sealants).

Chlorinated alkanes were included on the first Priority Substances List (PSL) program under the 1988 Canadian Environmental Protection Act for assessment of potential risks to the environment and human health. In 1993, Environment Canada and Health Canada published an assessment report that concluded short-chain chlorinated alkanes constitute or may constitute a danger to human health or life as set out in the Act. On August 30, 2008, a notice summarizing the scientific considerations of a final follow-up assessment report was published by Environment Canada and Health Canada in the Canada Gazette, Part I for chlorinated alkanes. The final follow-up assessment report concluded that:

Based on the conclusions of the assessment, it was therefore recommended that all chlorinated alkanes be added to Schedule 1 of CEPA. Furthermore, chlorinated alkanes containing up to 20 carbon atoms are predominantly anthropogenic, and the available data regarding their persistence and bioaccumulation potential indicate that they satisfy the criteria outlined in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations, under CEPA. Chlorinated alkanes containing up to 20 carbon atoms were also recommended for addition to the Virtual Elimination List.

Risk management action has been initiated for chlorinated alkanes containing 10 to 13 carbon atoms (short-chain chlorinated alkanes). These substances, which are no longer in commerce, have been added to the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012. These Regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale or import of short chain chlorinated alkanes in Canada.

For more information on this substance, please visit the Chemical Substances website.

Risk assessment

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Chemicals Management Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3


Substances Management Information Line:
Telephone: 1-800-567-1999 (in Canada) or 819-938-3232
Fax: 819-938-3231


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