Methyloxirane (propylene oxide)

CAS Registry Number 75-56-9

What is it?

  • Methyloxirane (also known as propylene oxide) is a chemical that is used by industry in the manufacture of certain products.

How is it used?

  • Methyloxirane is used in the production of other chemicals, which are then used to produce a wide variety of industrial and consumer products, paint strippers and aerosol paints. 
  • Methyloxirane is an approved food additive and is permitted solely for use as a starch modifying agent. Due to the chemical nature of this substance, it dissipates during processing and is not present in the final food.
  • Based on the most recent data, methyloxirane is imported into Canada but is not manufactured in Canada.

Why Did the Government of Canada Assess It?

  • Methyloxirane has been shown to cause cancer in some studies with laboratory animals and can affect the respiratory system of laboratory animals. Although exposures to Canadians are low, the Government of Canada's objective is to minimize exposures to this substance.  
  • Exposures from inhalation may be elevated during the use of certain consumer products such as some paint strippers.

What Is the Government of Canada Doing?

  • The Government of Canada has determined that methyloxirane is "toxic" as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • The Government of Canada will propose risk management measures to limit releases of this substance in paint strippers and aerosol paints.
  • Although not currently used in cosmetics, the Government of Canada will propose to prohibit any possible future use in cosmetics.

What Canadians Can Do

  • Canadians using paints, varnishes, coatings, adhesives and sealants, should read and follow the safety instructions provided on the label, particularly the advice to use in a well-ventilated area and to wear protective equipment.  
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