Biphenyl (1,1'-Biphenyl)

CAS Registry Number 92-52-4

What is it?

  • Biphenyl is an industrial chemical which also occurs naturally in the environment.

How is it used?

  • Based on the most recent data, biphenyl is not manufactured in Canada, but is imported into Canada.
  • In Canada, biphenyl is mainly used to produce heat transfer fluids, such as those used in chemical manufacturing processes to heat or cool reaction mixtures. It has also been used in textiles, paper, as a solvent and as a preservative.
  • Biphenyl is present in creosote, which is used as a weatherproofing agent for wood.

Why is the Government of Canada assessing it?

  • Prior to the assessment, biphenyl was identified as a potential concern to human health.
  • However, biphenyl was not considered to be a priority for assessment of potential risks to the environment. Regardless, potential environmental effects were also evaluated in this screening assessment.

How is it released to the environment?

  • Biphenyl is found naturally in coal tar, crude oil and natural gas. The main source that results from human activity is from incomplete burning of organic matters, coal, oil, fossil fuels, incinerators and agricultural waste.
  • Biphenyl may also be released from car exhaust, residential and industrial heating sources and cigarette smoke.

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • In Canada, exposure of the general population to biphenyl is expected to be low and to occur predominantly through indoor air, including from its presence in cigarette smoke.
  • Exposure from consumer products is not expected to be of concern.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of biphenyl, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address the potential for harm to the general population of Canada and the environment.
  • Hazards related to chemicals used in the workplace should be classified accordingly under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
  • Results of the final screening assessment indicate that biphenyl is not expected to remain in the environment for a long time or accumulate in organisms.
  • Furthermore, the quantity of biphenyl 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 biphenyl is not entering the environment at levels that constitute a danger to the environment.
  • The Government of Canada has also concluded that biphenyl is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • The final Screening Assessment on Biphenyl was published on September 13, 2014.
  • Based on the conclusion of the final screening assessment, the Government of Canada proposes that no further action be taken on biphenyl.

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). Biphenyl is not a concern for the environment or human health at current levels of exposure.
  • Tobacco smoke is also a source of biphenyl. Canadians are reminded that they should not smoke and should avoid second-hand smoke. For more information about how to quit smoking and how to protect your family from second-hand smoke, check out the Smoking and tobacco website or speak with a doctor.
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded when using any product to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions and to dispose of the products appropriately.
  • Canadians who may be exposed to biphenyl in the workplace should consult with their employer and 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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