Carbon black

CAS Registry Number 1333-86-4

What is it?

  • Carbon black is an industrial chemical.

How is it used?

  • Globally, carbon black is used in the rubber industry in a variety of products, including tires, tubes, conveyor belts, cables and other mechanical rubber goods. 
  • Carbon black is also used in a variety of products including paints, inks, coatings, toners, plastics (for example, polyethylene), polymer film sheeting, fibreglass, food products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and natural health products, pesticides, and in packing materials.
  • Carbon black is both manufactured in and imported into Canada.

Why is the Government of Canada assessing it?

  • Prior to the assessment, carbon black was identified as a potential concern to human health based on its classification by international organizations as a substance that was found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and based on a high potential for exposure (not including workplace exposures) to the general population of Canada.
  • Carbon black was not considered to be a high priority for assessment of potential risks to the environment; however, potential environmental effects were also evaluated in this screening assessment.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • The general population of Canada may be exposed to carbon black through inhalation of air during the use of consumer products containing this substance (for example, some paints, certain costume spray hair dyes).
  • Canadians may also be exposed through other routes from its use in food packaging and food additives (colours) and cosmetics; however, exposure from these sources is expected to be low.

How is it released to the environment?

  • Carbon black may be released to the environment as a result of industrial processes and during the use and disposal of products containing this substance.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of carbon black, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address potential for harm to the general population (not including workplace exposures) and the environment.
  • Based on the conclusion of the final screening assessment, carbon black is not expected to accumulate in organisms or cause harm to organisms, and the quantities of carbon black that may be released to the environment are below the levels expected to cause harm to organisms; therefore, the Government of Canada has concluded that carbon black is not entering the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a danger to the environment.
  • The Government of Canada has also concluded that carbon black is not harmful to the health of the general population at current levels of exposure.

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 carbon black.
  • The final screening assessment report was published on June 29, 2013.

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). Carbon black is not a concern for the environment or human health at current levels of exposure.
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded to carefully follow safety warnings and directions, including directions to wear personal protective equipment (for example, respiratory protection), when using products containing carbon black.
  • Canadians who handle carbon black 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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