Toxic substances list: vinyl chloride

Vinyl chloride (VC) is a flammable and explosive colourless gas with a sweet odour. It is used in the plastics industry, often to produce PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and does not occur naturally in the environment. It is also used as a refrigerant, and in organic synthesis reactions. Most of the VC that enters the environment comes from the plastics industry, which releases it into the air or into waste water. VC has entered the environment at hazardous waste sites as a result of its improper disposal or leakage from storage or transport containers or from spills.

VC is a known human carcinogen for which there is no safe exposure level (non-threshold carcinogen). Air emission releases of VC from PVC manufacturing and VC manufacturing facilities were identified as a source of potential exposure for the general population.  As a result, VC was listed on the List of Toxic Substances, Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). The Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 (VCRR) were enacted to manage the air emission releases of VC from PVC manufacturing and VC manufacturing facilities. These regulations served to limit the release of VC from the six VC plants and PVC plants operating in Canada in the 1990’s.

Since then, PVC production has decreased steadily over the years in Canada. Production of VC also ceased. Only one facility that manufactures PVC, situated in Ontario, remains subject to the federal VCRR Regulations. This facility is also currently subject to the Ontario Regulation 419/05 Air Pollution - Local Air Quality of the Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which establishes an ambient air concentration of VC more stringent than the federal regulations, and is protective of human health. As a result, the Government of Canada has repealed the VCRR to eliminate federal-provincial regulatory duplication and reduce the compliance and administrative burden in the PVC manufacturing sector without compromising human health.

The Regulations Repealing the Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 was published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on June 1, 2016 and is in force since May 13, 2016.

CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) registry number: 75-01-4


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Director, Chemical Production Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd., 11th Floor
Gatineau, QC  K1A 0H3
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