Methane, chloro- (Methyl chloride)

CAS Registry Number 74-87-3

What is it?

  • Methane, chloro-, also known as methyl chloride, is an industrial chemical and also occurs naturally.

How is it used?

  • Methyl chloride is used to make other chemicals used in manufacturing processes in which methyl chloride is consumed.
  • In Canada, its largest industrial uses are as a solvent in the manufacture of butyl rubber and in the manufacture of quaternary ammonium compounds.
  • Over 50% of methyl chloride in the atmosphere is produced naturally through biomass burning (wildfires), the open oceans, tropical plants, wood-rotting fungi.
  • Methyl chloride is not currently manufactured in Canada but is produced and released to the environment as a result of biomass and fossil fuels burning, waste incineration and industrial processes. It is also imported into Canada.

Why is the Government of Canada assessing it?

  • Prior to the assessment, methyl chloride 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 to Canadians.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • Methyl chloride is found everywhere in the atmosphere and therefore, Canadians are primarily exposed to it by inhalation.
  • Canadians are also exposed to methyl chloride from its presence in tobacco smoke and from smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces.
  • Exposure of the general population from other sources is expected to be negligible.

What are the results of the assessment?

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

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • Based on the conclusion of the final screening assessment, no further action will be taken on methyl chloride.
  • The final screening assessment report was published on November 28, 2009.

What should 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).
  • Tobacco smoke is also a source of methyl chloride. Canadians are reminded that they should not smoke. For more information about smoking and how to quit, please visit Go Smoke Free or speak with a doctor.

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