Publication of a draft screening assessment for Parabens group under Chemicals Management Plan

News release

Health Canada consulting Canadians on draft screening assessment under the Chemicals Management Plan

March 13, 2020 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians and the environment. Through the Chemicals Management Plan, the Government assesses chemicals used in Canada, and takes action on those found to be harmful to human health or the environment.

Under the Chemicals Management Plan, Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada have completed a draft screening assessment covering seven substances in the parabens group, a class of preservatives used in many products available to consumers.

Most uses of parabens are not a concern to human health, and the potential risks identified in the draft screening assessment affect a small percentage of products. However, based on the latest science and the draft screening assessment, the Government of Canada proposes that four of the seven parabens assessed (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and iso-butylparaben) may be harmful to human health under certain conditions (i.e. specific uses and concentrations).

Should the final screening assessment confirm the findings in the draft screening assessment, the Government of Canada will consider measures that would prohibit or restrict the use of these substances in a limited number of cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs.

The draft screening assessment has been published in Canada Gazette, Part I, and will be open for public comment for 60 days, until May 13, 2020. The final screening assessment and risk management approach will take into consideration any comments and new evidence received during the consultation period.

Quick facts

  • The areas of concern affect a limited number of cosmetics, natural health products, and non-prescription drugs in Canada. Most types of exposure to parabens are not considered to be a concern to human health at current levels.

  • Parabens used as food additives and those that occur naturally in food do not pose a health risk.

  • The Government of Canada is considering measures to reduce exposures to these four substances in cosmetics, natural health products, and prescription and non-prescription drugs.

  • Health Canada will continue to track exposure to and the hazards of parabens by seeking new information from stakeholders to help shape the final assessment.

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