1,3-Butadiene, 2-methyl- (Isoprene)

CAS Registry Number 78-79-5

What is it?

  • 2-Methyl-1,3-butadiene, also known as isoprene, is an industrial chemical, and is also produced naturally by plants and humans.

How is it used?

  • Isoprene is used in the manufacture of rubbers and plastics, such as medical equipment, toys, tires, paint resins, inner tubes, elastic films and threads for golf balls, shoe soles and some rubber adhesives. It is also used in the manufacture of some cosmetics.
  • Isoprene is found in tobacco smoke and is emitted from industrial sources.
  • Isoprene is also used in can sealants for food containers, corks used in bottles and coatings for plastic packaging; however, good manufacturing practices (GMP) exist where there is any contact with food.
  • Based on the most recent data, isoprene is manufactured in and imported into Canada.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it?

  • Isoprene was identified as a potential concern to human health based on its classification by an international organization as a substance which was found to cause cancer, as well as genetic effects, in some studies with laboratory animals.
  • Isoprene was also believed to have a high potential for exposure to Canadians.
  • Isoprene was assessed by Government of Canada scientists to help decide if further actions might be necessary so that the health of Canadians and the environment are protected.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • While there are some reports of current uses in consumer products, exposure to the general population in Canada is expected to be very low.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted an evaluation of isoprene based on science, called a screening assessment.
  • The Government of Canada has determined that isoprene is considered to be harmful to human health.
  • The Government of Canada is proposing that rubber manufacturers be required to take action to ensure the implementation of the best available technology so that releases can be controlled to help protect Canadians' health. It is also being proposed that isoprene be added to the Cosmetic Ingredient "Hotlist" which will prevent its future use in cosmetics.
  • The final screening assessment report and proposed risk management approach document were published on January 31, 2009. The proposed risk management approach will be subject to a 60-day public comment period ending April 1, 2009.

What should Canadians do?

  • Cigarette smoke is a source of isoprene. Canadians are reminded they should not smoke. For more information about smoking, and how to quit, please visit Go Smokefree.
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