1,2-Dibromoethane (Ethane, 1,2-dibromo-)

CAS Registry Number 106-93-4

What is it?

  • 1,2-Dibromoethane, also known as Ethane, 1,2-dibromo-, is an industrial chemical.

How is it used?

  • In Canada, 1,2-dibromoethane is used as a lead scavenger in leaded gasoline for competition vehicles and aircraft.
  • Internationally, 1,2-dibromoethane may be used as a grain fumigant, moth control agent in beehives, wood preservative in the timber industry, in the production of vinyl bromide, plastic and latex, in the activation of Grignard reagents and in the formulation of flame retardants, polyester dyes, resins and waxes.
  • 1,2-Dibromoethane is not manufactured in Canada, but it is imported into Canada for use in leaded gasoline for competition vehicles and aircraft.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it?

  • Prior to the assessment, 1,2-dibromoethane was identified as a potential concern to the environment and human health.  Furthermore, it is classified by international organizations as a substance that may cause cancer in laboratory animals.

How it is released to the environment?

  • Despite the fact that measures and practices are in place to minimize the releases, unintentional releases of 1,2-dibromoethane into the atmosphere may occur during storage.  In addition, 1,2-dibromoethane appears to be formed naturally by macroalgae growth and has been detected in marine air and water.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • Exposure of the general population of Canada to 1,2-dibromoethane is expected to be low to negligible.
  • As no consumer products containing 1,2-dibromoethane were identified in Canada, exposure of Canadians from the use of consumer products is not expected.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of 1,2-dibromoethane, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address potential for harm to the general population in Canada (not including workplace exposures) and the environment.
  • Results of the final screening assessment indicate that although 1,2-dibromoethane may remain in the environment for a long time, it is not expected to accumulate in organisms.
  • Furthermore, the quantity of 1,2-dibromoethane that may be released to the environment is below the level expected to cause harm to organisms.
  • The Government of Canada has therefore concluded that 1,2-dibromoethane is not entering the environment at levels that constitute a danger to the environment.
  • The Government of Canada has also concluded that 1,2-dibromoethane is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • Based on the conclusion of the final screening assessment, although exposure of the general population of Canada is low, the Government of Canada is proposing actions so that exposure remains low.
  • The application of the Significant New Activity (SNAc) provisions to this substance is being proposed. This would require that any proposed new manufacture, use or import other than as a leaded fuel additive be subject to further assessment, which would determine if the new activity requires further risk management consideration.
  • With respect to leaded gasoline for use in competition vehicles, the Government of Canada will perform a 5-year review of the Gasoline Regulations (by 2016) and will assess if further action is warranted based on science, technology and fuel replacement developments. 
  • The final screening assessment report on 1,2-dibromoethane was published on June 1, 2013.

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). 1,2-Dibromoethane is not a concern for the environment or human health at current levels of exposure.
  • Canadians who handle 1,2-dibromoethane 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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