Chlorinated Alkanes public summary

What are they?

  • Chlorinated alkanes (formerly referred to as chlorinated paraffins) are substances found in a variety of industrial products and in some consumer products.
  • Chlorinated alkanes are a family of complex chemical mixtures. They have been divided into three classes:
    • short-chain chlorinated alkanes having 10 to 13 carbon atoms,
    • medium-chain chlorinated alkanes having 14 to 17 carbon atoms, and
    • long-chain chlorinated alkanes having 18 or more carbon atoms.

How are they used?

  • Although chlorinated alkanes are no longer produced in Canada, they are imported for use in a variety of applications, including as flame retardants and plasticizers in polymers (vinyl and heavy-duty rubber applications), for use in metal working fluids and for use in specialized coatings (paints, adhesives/sealants).

Why is the Government of Canada assessing them?

  • Chlorinated alkanes were included on the Priority Substances List (PSL) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 1989 in order to assess the potential environmental and human health risks posed by exposure to these substances in Canada.
  • A final follow-up report on chlorinated paraffins was published on August 30, 2008.
  • Based on new information which has become available since the 2008 final follow-up report, Health Canada has published an update on the human health assessment of long-chain chlorinated alkanes.

How are Canadians exposed to them?

  • Canadians may be exposed to low levels of chlorinated alkanes primarily through food and to a lesser extent through water, air and soil.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada conducted an assessment of all chlorinated alkanes which addresses potential for harm to the general population (not including workplace exposures) and to the environment.
  • The Government of Canada has determined that short- and medium-chain chlorinated alkanes (10 to 17 carbon atoms) are harmful to human health.
  • The Government has also confirmed that chlorinated alkanes with up to and including 20 carbon atoms are considered to be harmful to the environment and meet the criteria for virtual elimination.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

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).
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded when using any product to carefully follow safety warnings and directions.
  • Canadians who handle chlorinated alkanes in the workplace should consult with their occupational health and safety representative about safe handling practices, and requirements under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

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