Cobalt chemical substances in Batch 10 of the Challenge

  • Elemental cobalt
    • CAS RN 7440-48-4
  • Cobalt chloride
    • CAS RN 7646-79-9
  • Sulfuric acid, cobalt (2+) salt (1:1) (Cobalt sulfate)
    • CAS RN 10124-43-3
  • Sulfuric acid, cobalt salt (Cobalt sulfate)
    • CAS RN 10393-49-4

What are they?

  • Cobalt is a naturally occurring element in the earth's crust. It is not known to naturally exist in its elemental (metallic) form.
  • Elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride and cobalt sulfate are industrial chemicals.

How are they used?

  • In Canada, elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride and cobalt sulfate are primarily used as industrial substances.
  • Elemental cobalt in particular is used in the production of alloys (metallic mixtures) and carbides (carbon-metal mixtures) for applications requiring high strength and temperature resistance.
  • Cobalt sulfate is used in the electroplating industry and agriculturally as a feed supplement and fertilizer.
  • Cobalt sulfate or chloride may also be used as the cobalt source in storage batteries, porcelain pigments, glazes and ink driers.
  • Elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride and cobalt sulfate are manufactured in and imported into Canada.

Why did the Government of Canada assess them?

  • Prior to the assessment, elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride and cobalt sulfate were identified as potential concerns for human health based on their classification by international organizations as substances that were found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and based on a moderate or high potential for exposure (not including workplace exposures) to the general population of Canada.
  • They were also identified as a potential concern to the environment based on information regarding persistence and potential to cause harm to organisms.

How are Canadians exposed to them?

  • Based on available information on concentrations of total cobalt in environmental media (soil, drinking water, ambient air) and food, the general population of Canada is expected to be exposed to cobalt predominantly through diet; this exposure was found to be similar to that of other developed nations.
  • Canadians may also be exposed to cobalt chloride during the use of personal care products; however, this exposure is expected to be low.

How are they released to the environment?

  • Elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate may be released to aquatic environments through industrial activities including cobalt and other base metal production, and manufacturing of alloys/superalloys and some types of batteries.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address potential for harm to the general population (not including workplace exposures) and the environment.
  • The Government of Canada has concluded that elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate are not harmful to the health of the general population at current levels of exposure.
  • Additionally, elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate are not expected to accumulate in or cause harm to organisms; therefore, the Government of Canada has also concluded that elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate are not entering the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a danger to the environment.
  • It is recognized that many other cobalt-containing substances may contribute to the presence of total cobalt in the Canadian environment; therefore, other forms of cobalt (referred to as total cobalt) will be addressed at a later stage under the Chemicals Management Plan.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • Based on the conclusion of the final screening assessment, the Government of Canada proposes that no further action be taken on elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate.
  • The final screening assessment report was published on January 15, 2011.

What can Canadians do?

  • The health risks associated with a chemical depend on the hazard (its potential to cause health effects) and the dose (the amount of chemical to which you are exposed). Elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride, and cobalt sulfate are not a concern for the environment or human health at current levels of exposure.
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions when using any product.
  • Canadians who handle elemental cobalt, cobalt chloride and cobalt sulfate in the workplace should consult with their occupational health and safety representative about safe handling practices, applicable laws and requirements under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
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