Acetonitrile (Nitriles Group) - information sheet
CAS Registry Number 75-05-8
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- About this substance
- Human and ecological exposures
- Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- Risk assessment outcomes
- Related information
- The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, to address the potential for harm to Canadians and to the environment from acetonitrile.
- Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the risk posed by a substance is determined by considering both its hazardous properties (its potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount of exposure there is to people and the environment. A substance may have hazardous properties; however, the risk to human health or to the environment may be low depending upon the level of exposure.
- The ecological hazard and exposure potentials of acetonitrile were classified using the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach.
- As a result of the draft screening assessment, the Government is proposing that acetonitrile is not harmful to human health or the environment at current levels of exposure.
About this substance
- The screening assessment summarized here focuses on acetonitrile. It is 1 of 6 substances referred to collectively as the Nitriles Group under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
- The other 5 substances in the Nitriles Group were determined to be of low concern to both human health and the environment through other approaches. Conclusions for these 5 substances are provided in the Screening Assessment for Substances Identified as Being of Low Concern based on the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances and the Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC)-based Approach for Certain Substances.
- According to information gathered by the Government, acetonitrile occurs naturally (for example, in coal tar, volcanic gas, and in the combustion products of wood) and is also present in tobacco smoke. In Canada, acetonitrile has commercial uses in laboratories.
Human and ecological exposures
- Canadians may be exposed to acetonitrile from the environment, mainly from indoor and outdoor air. Measurements of acetonitrile in residential air quality studies were used to assess human exposure to this substance.
- According to information considered under the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach, acetonitrile was identified as having low ecological exposure potential.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- Acetonitrile has been reviewed internationally through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme. There is an OECD SIDS Initial Assessment Report (SIAR) available. This review was used to inform the health effects characterization in the screening assessment. Effects on the blood were considered to be the important or “critical” effects considered in the human health assessment.
- According to information considered under the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach, acetonitrile was identified as having a low ecological hazard potential.
Risk assessment outcomes
- On the basis of information presented in the screening assessment, the risk to human health from acetonitrile is considered to be low.
- According to information considered under the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach, acetonitrile was characterized as posing a low risk of harm to the environment.
- The Government of Canada published the Draft Screening Assessment for Acetonitrile (Nitriles Group) on June 22, 2019. This publication has a 60-day public comment period ending on August 21, 2019.
Proposed screening assessment conclusions
- As a result of the draft screening assessment, the Government is proposing that acetonitrile is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure, and is not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.
- Canadians who may be exposed to acetonitrile in the workplace should consult with their employer and an occupational health and safety (OHS) representative about safe handling practices, applicable laws, and requirements under OHS legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
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