Toxic substances list: petroleum and refinery gases
Petroleum and refinery gases are complex combinations of petroleum hydrocarbons produced by petroleum refineries, upgraders and natural gas processing facilities. Their composition varies based on the source of the crude oil, bitumen or natural gas as well as the process operating conditions and processing units used. Many components of petroleum and refinery gases are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions.
The Government of Canada has conducted screening assessments of three groups of petroleum and refinery gases:
- The final screening assessment for 40 site-restricted petroleum and refinery gases was published in June 2013. These petroleum and refinery gases are not expected to be transported off petroleum refinery, upgrader and natural gas processing facility sites.
- The final screening assessment for four industry-restricted petroleum and refinery gases was published in January 2014. These petroleum and refinery gases may leave a petroleum-sector facility and may be transported to other industrial facilities (for example, for use as a feedstock, fuel or blending component), but are not expected to be available to the general public.
- The final screening assessment for two petroleum and refinery gases that may be present in consumer products was published in February 2017. These petroleum and refinery gases are also known as liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs) and are mainly used as fuels, as raw materials for industrial processes, and as aerosol propellants in consumer products.
The screening assessments examined the potential for harm to the general population (not including workplace exposures) and the environment. Some potential components of petroleum and refinery gases, including 1,3-butadiene, benzene and isoprene, are known to be carcinogenic. 1,3-Butadiene was selected as a high hazard component to characterize potential exposure to the general population. It was recognized that a small portion of the general population may be exposed to petroleum and refinery gases in the vicinity of certain petroleum facilities.
The screening assessments concluded that each group of petroleum and refinery gases meets the criteria for toxicity to human health under paragraph 64(c) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) as they are entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.
Based on the conclusions of the assessments, it was recommended that petroleum and refinery gases be added to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of CEPA. The final Order to add 40 site-restricted petroleum and refinery gases and four industry-restricted petroleum and refinery gases to Schedule 1 was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on October 5, 2016. The final Order to add two liquefied petroleum gases to Schedule 1 was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on April 14, 2018.
Along with the final screening assessments, the Government published proposed risk management approach documents to explain how risks associated with petroleum and refinery gases would be managed. The proposed risk management instrument for petroleum and refinery gases was a regulation under CEPA focusing on additional practices and technologies, or the improved implementation of existing requirements, for reducing fugitive emissions from petroleum facilities. The Reduction in the Release of Volatile Organic Compounds Regulations (Petroleum Sector) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on November 11, 2020.
Risk management tool(s)
Tool(s) developed to manage risks associated with the substances:
Consultation (past and present) on the substances:
- Summary of Public Comments Received on Draft Screening Assessment and Risk Management Scope for Site-Restricted Petroleum and Refinery Gases
- Summary of Public Comments Received on Draft Screening Assessment and Risk Management Scope for Liquefied Petroleum Gases
- Proposed Risk Management Approach for Site-Restricted Petroleum and Refinery Gases
- Proposed Risk Management Approach for Industry-Restricted Petroleum and Refinery Gases
- Proposed Risk Management Approach for Liquefied Petroleum Gases
- Proposed Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Volatile Organic Compounds (Petroleum Sector)
Substances Management Information Line
Chemicals Management Plan
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: 1-800-567-1999 (in Canada) or 819-938-3232
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