Antimony trioxide (Antimony oxide)

CAS Registry Number 1309-64-4

What is it?

  • Antimony trioxide is an industrial chemical and also occurs naturally in the environment.

How is it used?

  • In Canada, antimony trioxide is primarily used in combination with other compounds to provide flame retardant properties. Flame retardants used in household items such as mattress covers, furniture and carpets may contain antimony trioxide.
  • Antimony trioxide is also used in the manufacturing of a plastic material known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
  • Antimony trioxide is both manufactured in and imported into Canada.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it?

  • Prior to the assessment, antimony trioxide was identified as a potential concern for 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.
  • Antimony trioxide was also considered to be a priority for assessment of potential risks to the environment; therefore, potential environmental effects were also evaluated in this screening assessment.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • The general population is expected to be exposed to low levels of antimony trioxide from environmental media (soil, drinking water, ambient air), from food and from contact with household items such as mattress covers, furniture and carpets that may contain antimony trioxide.

How is it released to the environment?

  • Antimony trioxide may be released to the environment via landfills and wastewater treatment systems as a result of industrial processes and through the use and disposal of consumer products containing this substance.
  • Combustion of coal, non-ferrous metal production (smelters), antimony mining and abrasion of automobile brake pads are also expected to result in releases of antimony trioxide to the environment.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of antimony trioxide, 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 antimony trioxide is not harmful to the health of the general population at current levels of exposure.
  • Additionally, although antimony trioxide has the potential to remain in the environment for a long time, it is not expected to accumulate in organisms or cause harm to organisms; therefore, the Government of Canada has also concluded that antimony trioxide 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?

  • The Government of Canada has assessed antimony trioxide in the event that it was to enter the environment as a result of an environmental emergency and proposes adding antimony trioxide to the Environmental Emergency Regulations of CEPA 1999, so that emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery requirements are put in place.
  • Antimony and its compounds are on Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist with the aim to prohibit their use. The Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist is the list of ingredients that are intended to be prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics, including many personal care products. Under Canadian legislation, cosmetics that contain substances that are harmful to the user cannot be sold.
  • Antimony and its compounds are regulated under Canadian legislation with respect to surface coating material for toys or other products for use by a child in learning or play. In addition, Canadian regulations prohibit decorative coatings to contain any compound of antimony on cribs, cradles, expandable gates and enclosures for children.
  • The final screening assessment report was published on September 18, 2010.

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). Antimony trioxide is not a concern for the environment or human health at current levels of exposure.
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded when using any product to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions.
  • Canadians who handle antimony trioxide 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.
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