Antimony-containing Substances Group - information sheet

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  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, of 11 antimony-containing substances, to address the potential for harm to Canadians and to the environment.
  • Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 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 these substances were classified using the Ecological Risk Classification of Inorganic Substances (ERC-I) Approach.
  • As a result of this screening assessment, none of the 11 antimony-containing substances are proposed to be harmful to human health or the environment, at current levels of exposure.

About these substances

  • This screening assessment focuses on the 11 substances referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Antimony-containing Substances Group.
  • The Government gathers information on substances, including details on their commercial status in Canada, to support the risk assessment and management of substances under the CMP.
  • Antimony (Sb) is a naturally occurring semi-metal that occurs in the environment in various oxidation states (degree of oxidation of a chemical compound). It is commonly found in the trivalent and pentavalent states. Some of the antimony-containing substances in this group are human-made.
  • These 11 substances have various uses and functions in Canada, such as in flame retardants, textiles, plastics, lubricants and greases, and in metal refining, as examples.
  • Antimony trioxide (CAS RN 1309-64-4) was assessed in Batch 9 of the Challenge initiative and is not included in this current assessment.

Exposure of Canadians and the environment

  • Canadians may be exposed to these antimony-containing substances through the environment (for example, drinking water). Data on total antimony (all forms of antimony added together) in the environment were used to estimate these exposures.
  • The primary sources of human exposures are estimated to be from food (including breast milk and beverages) and to a lesser extent, drinking water.
  • Canadians may also be exposed to these substances from the use of products available to consumers, such as textiles, toys, lubricants, and greases.
  • Antimony-containing substances may be released to the environment as a result of activities such as fossil-fuel combustion, metal refining, or when used in the manufacturing process.
  • For these 11 substances, ecological exposure was characterized in the ERC-I approach, using information from the Domestic Substances List inventory updates, the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), the Canada Border Services Agency, and a number of federal and provincial water quality monitoring datasets.

 Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • The human health screening assessment focused on the effects of exposure to both trivalent and pentavalent antimony-containing substances. Developmental effects associated with a form of pentavalent antimony were considered as the “critical” or important effects for the characterization of risk to human health from these 11 substances.
  • The human health assessment also considered exposure from inhalation (breathing in the substances), with lung inflammation as a potential effect.
  • For these 11 substances, ecological hazard was characterized in the ERC-I approach. A comparative approach using similar chemicals, called read-across, was used for assessing their potential ecological effects.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based upon a comparison of levels to which Canadians may be exposed to antimony-containing substances and levels associated with health effects, it was determined that the risk to human health from these 11 substances is considered to be low.
  • The ERC-I approach characterized these 11 substances as having low ecological concern.
  • The Government of Canada published the Draft Screening Assessment for the Antimony-containing Substances Group on September 15, 2018. This publication has a 60-day public comment period ending on November 14, 2018.

Proposed screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of this assessment, the Government is proposing that these 11 antimony-containing substances are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
  • The Government is also proposing that these substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

Important to know

  • Antimony-containing substances may be found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions on product labels and dispose of products responsibly.
  • Canadians who may be exposed to these substances 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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