Chemical substances glossary

A

Accession number
A unique designation assigned to a micro-organism when it is submitted to an internationally recognized culture collection. The accession number can also be an experimental or proprietary designation.
Animate substance
Substance that is living.
Anthropogenic
Caused by human activity.
Assessment
A scientific evaluation of a chemical substance under CEPA 1999 to determine the potential harm or danger it can cause to human health and/or the environment, the ways in which it can happen. This allows the federal government to identify the control measures needed to avoid or prevent the potential harm.

B

Bioaccumulation, or B
Substances that are stored in living tissues (including people), and remain for very long periods of time, during which concentrations can reach very high levels. These substances can also be transferred up the food chain.
Bioaccumulative and Inherently Toxic (BiT)
Criteria to determine if further attention is needed after categorization.


C

Carcinogenic
A substance that causes cancerous cells or tumors.
Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS RN)
The Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS RN) is the property of the American Chemical Society and any use or redistribution, except as required in supporting regulatory requirements and/or for reports to the Government of Canada when the information and the reports are required by law or administrative policy, is not permitted without the prior written permission of the American Chemical Society.
Categorization
Sorting of chemical substances on the Domestic Substances List - a list of substances used commercially in Canada between 1984 and 1986, before the original Canadian Environmental Protection Act was enacted. Most of these substances had not been examined by environmental and health scientists in government, and categorization was the first step to finding out which need further attention
CEPA and CEPA 1999
The acronym for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. CEPA was first passed in 1988.  A review in 1999 further strengthened human health and environmental protection components.  To distinguish between the two, the current law is called CEPA 1999. It aims to prevent pollution, and protect the environment and human health.
"CEPA-toxic"
A chemical substance is found toxic under CEPA 1999 if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity of concentration or under conditions that:
  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

The Government of Canada has the authority to regulate and authorize other instruments to prevent or control the use and/or release of these substances. Substances are added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 by the Government of Canada based on the Ministers of Environment and Health's recommendation. For the complete listing of these substances, see Toxic Substances List - Schedule 1.

Chemical Substance
Deliberately created, produced as a by-product of other processes or occurring naturally in the environment, chemical substances can be elements or compounds.

CEPA 1999 defines a "substance" as any distinguishable kind of organic or inorganic matter, animate or inanimate, that can be released as a single substance, an effluent, waste or a mixture into the Canadian environment.

D

Domestic Substances List (DSL)
A compilation of about 23,000 substances used, imported or manufactured in Canada for commercial purposes between January 1, 1984, and December 31, 1986 (before CEPA came into existence), at a quantity of greater than 100 kilograms per year. It includes discrete organic compounds, inorganic substances, organometallic substances, polymers, and unknown or variable composition complex reaction products or biological material such as acetone or iron. See also the Domestic Substances List.
Domestic Substances List (Micro-organisms)
A compilation of micro-organisms that are either used, imported or manufactured in Canada for commercial purposes between January 1, 1984, and December 31, 1986 (before CEPA came into existence), or are added to the list following notification and risk assessment, in accordance with the New Substances Notifications Regulations (Organisms).  See also the List of Organisms on the Domestic Substances List.

E

Endocrine disruptive substance
A chemical substance that interferes with the production, release, transport, metabolism, binding, action or elimination of natural substances such as sex hormones, or phytoestrogens. The substances can come from industrial, agricultural and municipal waste and can cause deformities and embryo mortality; impaired reproduction and development; abnormal reproduction; depressed thyroid and immune functions; and feminization.
Environmental Performance Agreement (EPA)
A type of voluntary agreement developed among one or more orders of government and a company or an industry sector. It sets out the specific actions to manage risks from a chemical substance or group of chemical substances.
Existing substances
Since 1994, Canada has been screening all new chemical substances before allowing their use. However, many chemical substances were introduced prior to 1994. Many of these older, or "existing substances" had not been examined for their potential risks by environmental and health scientists in government. Approximately 23 000 existing substances are registered on the Domestic Substances List (DSL). See also the Domestic Substances List.
Exposure
The degree to which the environment or living things, including people, come into direct or indirect contact with a chemical substance. Health Canada assesses potential exposure of the general population to chemical substances from all routes (inhalation, ingestion and contact on the skin) and all possible sources (ambient and indoor air, food, breast milk, soil and household and consumer products). Environment Canada assesses exposure of ecosystems (water, air, soil and wildlife).

G

Greatest Potential for Exposure (GPE)
Criterion used in categorization to help determine if chemical substances need further assessment. GPE was developed as an indicator of how much humans could come into contact with a given chemical substance, based on information reported by industry during the compilation of the DSL.

H

High Production Volume (HPV)
A U.S. category that defines chemicals manufactured in, or imported into, the United States in amounts equal to or greater than one million pounds per year. The U.S. HPV Challenge Program is a collaborative partnership with a goal of ensuring the public has access to information that allows it to actively participate in environmental decision-making.

I

Inherently Toxic (iT)
Chemical substances that are known or suspected, through laboratory and other studies, to have a harmful effect on human life or wildlife and the natural environment on which they depend.

L

List of Toxic Substances
The List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) includes substances that are considered to be toxic as defined in Section 64 of the Act:

"A substance is toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health."

The Government of Canada has the authority to regulate and authorize other instruments to prevent or control the use and/or release of these substances. Substances are added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 by the Government of Canada based on the Ministers of Environment and Health's recommendation. For the complete listing of these substances, see Toxic Substances List - Schedule 1.

M

Micro-organism
Is broadly defined as bacteria, fungi, yeast, protozoa, algae, virus, eukaryotic cell culture, and any culture other than a pure culture (i.e., consortium).
Monomer
A chemical substance that is a building block for polymers.
Mutagenic
A chemical substance that can cause changes in the DNA of cells.

N

New Substances
Substances that are not presently on the Domestic Substances List are considered to be new to Canada. Regulations were created to ensure that no new substances (chemicals, polymers or animate products of biotechnology) are introduced into the Canadian marketplace before an assessment of whether they are potentially toxic has been completed, and any appropriate or required control measures have been taken. See also Evaluating New Substances.

P

Pathogen
Any disease-producing micro-organism.
Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Inherently Toxic (PBiT)
Criteria to determine if further attention is needed after categorization. The PBiT (often called pee-bit) criteria are common to many international pollution prevention programs, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution Project and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Persistent and Inherently toxic (PiT)
Criteria to determine if further attention  is needed after categorization.
Pollution Prevention (P2)
Pollution prevention is a fundamental principle of CEPA 1999. It involves minimizing and avoiding the creation of pollution or waste.
Pollution prevention plans
A systematic, comprehensive method of identifying options to minimize or avoid the creation of pollutants or waste. The goal of pollution prevention planning is to have a company or facility select the measures that are most appropriate for its specific circumstances to reduce the use, generation and release of specific chemical substances.
Precautionary Principle
A principle which directs that the lack of full scientific certainty shall not postpone cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation if there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage. The precautionary principle is one of the foundations upon which CEPA 1999 is based.
Priority Substances List (PSL)
The list of substances that require investigation on a priority and in-depth basis to determine if they are toxic under CEPA 1999. Chemical substances can be added to the PSL following a screening assessment decision, review of another government's assessment or at the request of any person (under certain conditions).

R

Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals (REACH)
The European Commission proposal on a new regulatory system known as REACH: Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals.
Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS)
The RIAS provides information to Canadians and decision-makers on regulatory decisions and their impacts to protect and advance the public interest in health, safety and security, the quality of the environment, and the social and economic well-being of Canadians. The risk a chemical substance poses is a function of its hazardous properties and the way people and the environment are exposed to those properties. The hazardous properties and exposure for people or the environment is determined through a scientific evaluation or "risk assessment."
Risk
The risk a chemical substance poses is a function of its hazardous properties and the way people and the environment are exposed to those properties. The hazardous properties and exposure for people or the environment is determined through a scientific evaluation or "risk assessment."
Risk Assessment
A scientific evaluation of a chemical substance under CEPA 1999 to determine the potential harm or danger it can cause to human health and/or the environment, the ways in which it can happen. This allows the federal government to identify the control measures needed to avoid or prevent the potential harm.
Risk Management
Under CEPA 1999, risk management is the decision making process to identify, evaluate, select and implement actions to reduce risk to human health and the environment. Risk management includes pollution prevention, control, reduction or elimination of a toxic substance.
Risk Management Tool
Under CEPA 1999, risk management tools include regulations, pollution prevention plans, environmental emergency plans, administrative agreements, codes of practice, environmental quality objectives or guidelines, release guidelines, deposit-refund systems and tradeable permits.

S

Section 64
Section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) defines a substance as toxic "if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:
  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health."
For the complete listing of the substances that meet the criteria of section 64, see Toxic Substances List - Schedule 1.
Schedule 1
The List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) includes substances that are considered to be toxic as defined in Section 64 of the Act:

"A substance is toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health."

The Government of Canada has the authority to regulate and authorize other instruments to prevent or control the use and/or release of these substances. Substances are added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 by the Government of Canada based on the Ministers of Environment and Health's recommendation. For the complete listing of these substances, see Toxic Substances List - Schedule 1.

Screening Assessment
The most basic of risk assessments, a screening assessment looks to determine the potential harm or danger a substance can cause to human health and/or the environment, the ways in which it can happen. Screening assessments vary in complexity. There can be three results: no further action is required, the substance is determined to be toxic and measures are needed for control, or it is placed on the Priority Substance List (PSL).
Significant New Activity (SNAc) Notices
Significant New Activity notices are a flag put on a substance (chemical or micro-organism) so that any major changes in the way it is used are reported to the Government of Canada. This way government experts can evaluate whether this new use poses a risk to human health or the environment. View the Significant New Activity Publications under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Strain
A group of clonally-derived or otherwise indistinguishable micro-organisms within a species that differs in characteristics (and is distinguishable) from other similar groups (strains) within the same species.

U

UVCB
Unknown or Variable Composition, Complex Reaction Products or Biological Materials.

V

Virtual Elimination
Reducing to non-measureable levels the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances resulting from human activity.
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