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 9 substances in the Benzoates Group.
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.
Substances in the Benzoates Group are considered to have low human health and ecological hazard potential and exposure to Canadians is low. Therefore, it is concluded that these 9 substances are not harmful to human health or to the environment at current levels of exposure.
About these substances
This screening assessment focused on 9 of 10 substances referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Benzoates Group. The 9 substances addressed in this screening assessment are methyl benzoate, ethyl benzoate, isobutyl benzoate, butyl benzoate, tuberose oils, tribenzoin, diethylene glycol dibenzoate (DEGDB), dipropylene glycol dibenzoate (DPGDB) and trimethylpentanediyl dibenzoate (TMPD).
According to information gathered by the Government, these substances are man-made and some also occur naturally in the environment.
Methyl, ethyl, butyl and isobutyl benzoates are naturally present in foods such as fruit, alcoholic beverages, and cocoa.
Methyl, ethyl, butyl, and isobutyl benzoates, tuberose oils and tribenzoin are used globally as food flavouring agents. These substances are also used as fragrance ingredients in household cleaning products and cosmetics.
DEGDB, DPGDB and TMPD were identified in products including caulking, paint and adhesives, as well as cosmetics and natural health products.
DEGDB and DPGDB were also identified as components in the manufacture of food packaging materials.
Human and ecological exposures
Canadians may be exposed to some of these substances through their diet, either from their natural presence in foods, or from their potential use as food flavouring agents.
Exposure to DEGDB and DPGDB from their use as components in the manufacture of food packaging materials is considered negligible.
Canadians may also be exposed to some of these substances from the use of products available to consumers, such as cosmetics, household cleaning products and do-it-yourself products (for example, caulking and paint).
According to information considered under the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances methyl benzoate, ethyl benzoate, isobutyl benzoate, butyl benzoate, tribenzoin, DEGDB, and DPGDB were identified as having low ecological exposure potential. However, TMPD was identified as having moderate ecological exposure potential due to its overall persistence in the environment. Tuberose oil was identified as having a high ecological exposure potential due to large use quantities and its persistence.
There were no classifications identified for genotoxicity (damage to genetic material) or carcinogenicity (cancer-causing ability) by other national or international regulatory agencies for the 9 substances.
Also, given that the substances in the Benzoates Group break down into benzoic acid in the body, this assessment focused on health effects data for benzoic acid, and benzyl derivatives considered to break down to benzoic acid.
According to information considered under the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach, all 9 substances in this group were identified as having a low ecological hazard potential.
Risk assessment outcomes
Based upon the consideration of international assessments, the risk to human health from these 9 substances is considered to be low.
Based upon the outcome of the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach, these 9 substances are considered unlikely to cause ecological harm.
As a result of this assessment, the Government concluded that these 9 substances are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
The Government also concluded that these 9 substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.
The 9 substances in the Benzoates Group may be found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions on product labels and dispose of products responsibly.
Visit Healthy Home for more information on chemical safety in and around the home.
Canadians who may be exposed to these 9 substances in the workplace can 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).