Catechol

CAS Registry Number 120-80-9

What Is It?

  • Catechol (also known as 1,2-Benzenediol) is a chemical that is used by industry in the manufacture of certain products. It also occurs naturally in some food.
  • This substance is not the same as benzene which has already been declared "toxic" and is regulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

How Is It Used?

  • Catechol is formed during the production of pulp and is found in pulp mill effluent.
  • Catechol is used as a component in photographic developer and in specific applications such as a laboratory reagent and an antioxidant in electroplating baths.
  • Based on the most recent data, catechol is manufactured in Canada and is imported into Canada.
  • While catechol is found naturally in some foods, there is no evidence to show that the natural presence of catechol in food poses a health risk to Canadians or that Canadians should avoid foods containing catechol.

Why Did the Government of Canada Assess It?

  • Catechol has been shown to cause cancer in some studies with laboratory animals. Although exposures to Canadians are low, the Government of Canada's objective is to minimize exposure to this substance from industrial sources.

What is the Government of Canada Doing?

  • The Government of Canada has declared that catechol is "toxic" as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • The risks posed by catechol used for industrial purposes are already well managed through several regulatory measures including:
    • Pulp mill effluent regulations under CEPA 1999 and the Fisheries Act
    • Cosmetics Ingredient Hotlist under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA)
    • Labeling under the Hazardous Products Act
  • To keep exposures low, the Government of Canada will propose the creation of a provision so that any proposed new use of catechol would be subject to notification of the federal government. With this provision the government can set conditions or prohibit the use of catechol if the use would increase exposure to Canadians.
  • The industrial uses of catechol do not result in exposure to the general population.

What Canadians Can Do

  • Canadians who use photographic chemicals should read and carefully follow the safety instructions provided on the label before each use.
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