Benzene, 1,2-dimethoxy-4-(2-propenyl)- (Methyl eugenol)

CAS Registry Number 93-15-2

The Final Screening Assessment for Methyl Eugenol was published on September 18, 2010 as part of Batch 9 of the Challenge initiative of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). The assessment is summarized on this web page.

What is it

  • Benzene, 1,2-dimethoxy-4-(2-propenyl)-, also known as methyl eugenol, is a chemical that occurs naturally in a variety of plants, including various herbs.

How is it used

  • Methyl eugenol is present in the essential oils of several plant species. These oils are extracted for use as fragrance ingredients and softeners in personal care products and cosmetics and as a flavour ingredient in food and beverages.
  • Essential oils and herbs that contain methyl eugenol are also used in natural health products.
  • Methyl eugenol may also be present in citronella oil, which is an active ingredient found in certain personal insect repellents.
  • Methyl eugenol is not manufactured or imported into Canada in its pure form above the reporting threshold.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it

  • Prior to the assessment, methyl eugenol 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 moderate potential for exposure to the general population of Canada.
  • Methyl eugenol 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 people in Canada exposed to it

  • People in Canada may be exposed to low levels of methyl eugenol from certain types of essential oils found in personal care products, cosmetics, and citronella oil personal insect repellents.
  • People in Canada may also be exposed to methyl eugenol in plant essential oils or plant parts such as leaves, stems, and seeds that naturally contain methyl eugenol and can be used as flavouring ingredients in foods.

How is it released to the environment

  • There are no known industrial sources of release of methyl eugenol to the Canadian environment. However, methyl eugenol may potentially be released to the environment through consumer and commercial use of products containing this substance.

What are the results of the assessment

  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation of methyl eugenol, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address potential for harm to the general population of Canada and the environment.
  • The Government concluded that methyl eugenol may be harmful to human health.
  • However, there are no studies to indicate that the presence of methyl eugenol in food, whether added as a flavour ingredient or naturally present, poses a risk.
  • Additionally, methyl eugenol is not expected to remain in the environment for a long time, to accumulate in organisms, or to cause harm to organisms; therefore, the Government concluded that methyl eugenol is not entering the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a danger to the environment.

What is the Government doing

  • The application of the Significant New Activity (SNAc) provisions to this substance will be recommended. This would require that any proposed new manufacture, use, or import be subject to further assessment, and would determine if the new activity requires further risk management consideration.
  • The Government is proposing to include methyl eugenol 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.
  • Under the Pest Control Products Act, the Government will propose a phase out plan for personal insect repellents containing citronella oil (which contains methyl eugenol), if further information to support their continued safety is not provided.
  • Through the Food and Drug Act, the Government completed consultations with the food industry about the uses of methyl eugenol as a flavour and the use of essential oils or plant parts that naturally contain methyl eugenol as flavouring ingredients in foods offered for sale in Canada. Analysis of this data will be used to determine what risk management strategies may be required to address the use of methyl eugenol in foods.
  • The risk management approach was published on September 18, 2010. It was followed by a 60-day comment period that ended on November 17, 2010.
  • Information on the risk management actions for methyl eugenol 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).
  • As a general precaution, people in Canada are reminded when using any product to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions.
  • People in Canada who handle methyl eugenol 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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