Vanadium pentoxide

CAS Registry Number 1314-62-1

What is it?

  • Vanadium pentoxide is an industrial chemical and also occurs naturally in the environment. It is also produced as a by-product upon combustion of certain fossil fuels.

How is it used?

  • In Canada, the major use of vanadium pentoxide is in the manufacturing of metal alloys and sulphuric acid.
  • Vanadium pentoxide is manufactured in and imported into Canada.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it?

  • Prior to the assessment, vanadium pentoxide 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 and genetic damage in laboratory animals and which may cause harm to the developing foetus, and based on a high potential for exposure (not including workplace exposures) to the general population of Canada.
  • Vanadium pentoxide 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 of Canada is expected to be exposed to low levels of vanadium pentoxide from inhalation of air containing vanadium pentoxide formed from combustion of certain fossil fuels.
  • Exposure to vanadium pentoxide may also occur from its natural presence in food and soil.

How is it released to the environment?

  • Vanadium pentoxide is released to the environment upon combustion of certain fossil fuels (e.g., heavy oil, coal). This type of combustion mainly occurs at industrial facilities such as coal-fired and oil-fired power generation plants, pulp and paper mills, petroleum refineries, and cement plants.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of vanadium pentoxide, 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 vanadium pentoxide may be considered to be harmful to human health.
  • Additionally, although vanadium pentoxide 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 concluded that vanadium pentoxide 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, the Government of Canada will use existing and proposed programs to reduce particulate emissions from combustion of certain fossil fuels, including vanadium pentoxide.
  • 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.
  • Furthermore, the Government of Canada has assessed vanadium pentoxide in the event that it were to enter the environment as a result of an environmental emergency and intends to propose adding vanadium pentoxide to the Environmental Emergency Regulations of CEPA 1999, so that emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery requirements are put in place.
  • The final screening assessment and the proposed risk management approach documents were published on September 18, 2010. The publication of the proposed risk management approach document will be followed by a 60-day comment period, ending November 17, 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).
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded when using any product to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions.
  • Canadians who handle vanadium pentoxide 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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