Benzene, (chloromethyl)- (Benzyl chloride)

CAS Registry Number 100-44-7

The Final Screening Assessment for Benzyl Chloride was published on November 28, 2009 as part of Batch 6 of the Challenge initiative of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). The assessment is summarized on this web page.

What is it

  • Benzene, chloromethyl-, also known as benzyl chloride, is an industrial chemical.

How is it used

  • Benzyl chloride is mainly used in Canada to make other chemicals used for the synthesis of a quaternary ammonium compound, known as benzalkonium chloride. Quaternary ammonium compounds are used primarily as hard surface sanitizers, corrosion inhibitors, fungicides in industrial cleaners, and as bactericides or surfactant in household and personal care products.
  • Benzyl chloride is also used to produce benzyl alcohol which is used in a wide spectrum of applications, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetic formulations, flavour products, solvents and textile dye.
  • It is also used to produce benzyl butyl phthalate used mainly as a plasticizer in vinyl flooring and other flexible polyvinyl chloride uses, such as food packaging.
  • For all of these products, benzyl chloride may be present at very low (trace) levels, leftover from the manufacturing process.
  • Benzyl chloride is not currently manufactured in Canada but is imported into Canada.

Why is the Government of Canada assessing it

  • Benzyl chloride was classified by international organizations as a substance that was found to cause cancer and may cause genetic effects, based on laboratory studies.

How are people in Canada exposed to it

  • Exposure of people in Canada to benzyl chloride is expected to be low and to occur predominantly through inhalation.
  • People in Canada may be exposed to benzyl chloride through emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Exposure due to use of products in and around the home containing residual quantities of benzyl chloride is predicted to be low (for example, personal care products such as hair conditioner and shower gel).
  • Exposure from other sources is expected to be negligible.

What are the results of the assessment

  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation of benzyl chloride, called a screening assessment.
  • The Government concluded that benzyl chloride is harmful to human health.
  • The Government also concluded that benzyl chloride is not entering the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a danger to the environment.

What is the Government doing

  • Exposure of people in Canada is considered to be low and the Government is taking action so that exposure remains low.
  • The Government will investigate the utility of implementing a future use notification. This would require that any proposed new manufacture, import or use of this substance be subject to further assessment before this new activity is allowed.
  • The Government also proposes to add benzyl chloride to the Environmental Emergency Regulations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 due to its high-volume use, to make sure emergency preparedness and response requirements are in place.
  • The Government is proposing to include benzyl chloride as a prohibited or restricted ingredient on Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The Hotlist is used to communicate that certain substances may not be compliant with requirements of the Food and Drugs Act or the Cosmetic Regulations. Under Canadian legislation, cosmetics that contain substances that are harmful to the user cannot be sold.
  • The risk management approach was published on November 28, 2009. It was followed by a 60-day comment period that ended January 27, 2010.
  • Information on the risk management actions for benzyl chloride is available.

What can people in Canada 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).
  • Because exposure to benzyl chloride is low, the Government is not currently recommending specific actions by people in Canada to reduce their exposure.

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