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.
As a result of the screening assessment, the Government concluded that chlorocresol is harmful to human health, but not to the environment, at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
About this substance
The screening assessment summarized here focused on the substance phenol, 4-chloro-3-methyl-, also referred to as chlorocresol, which was assessed under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
Chlorocresol does not occur naturally in the environment.
It may be used in certain body creams or lotions and as a non-medicinal ingredient in natural health products and pharmaceuticals.
Chlorocresol is also an active ingredient in one registered pest control product which is used as a component in concrete admixtures, while the sodium salt form of chlorocresol is present in two registered pest control products.
Human and ecological exposures
Exposure to Canadians to chlorocresol from the environment (for example, drinking water or indoor air) is expected to be minimal.
Canadians may be exposed to chlorocresol from the use of products available to consumers, such as certain body lotions and creams, natural health products and pharmaceuticals (such as those used to treat eczema or fungal infections).
The highest potential for exposure to chlorocresol is expected from its use in certain body creams or lotions. These lotions are typically applied in greater quantities per application and are used daily (as opposed to intermittent use for treatment of a skin condition).
According to the information considered under the ERC Approach, chlorocresol was identified as having a low ecological exposure potential.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
The critical effect identified for characterizing the risk to human health for chlorocresol was effects on the adrenal gland.
According to information considered under the ERC Approach, chlorocresol was identified as having a low ecological hazard potential.
Risk assessment outcomes
Based upon a comparison of levels to which Canadians may be exposed to chlorocresol from daily use of body lotions and creams, and levels associated with critical health effects, it was determined that chlorocresol may pose a risk to human health.
Based upon the outcome of the ERC Approach, chlorocresol is considered unlikely to be causing ecological harm.
The Government will consider adding phenol, 4-chloro-3-methyl- to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, also called the List of Toxic Substances. Adding a substance to the list of does not restrict its use, manufacture or import. Rather, it enables the Government to take risk management actions under CEPA 1999.
To address human health concerns for chlorocresol, the Government is considering the following:
Measures to reduce exposures to chlorocresol from body lotion by describing chlorocresol as a prohibited or restricted ingredient on Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The Hotlist is used to communicate that certain substances may not be compliant with the Food and Drugs Act or the Cosmetic Regulations. Under Canadian legislation, cosmetics that contain substances that are harmful to the user cannot be sold.
Information is being sought by the Government to inform risk management decision-making. Details can be found in the risk management approach, including where to send information during the public comment period, ending July 21, 2021.
Risk management actions may evolve through consideration of assessments and risk management actions published for other substances. This is to ensure effective, coordination and consistent risk management decision-making.
Chlorocresol is found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions related to the product and dispose of products responsibly. Directions for use may also recommend that consumers discontinue use of products such as anti-itch creams after several weeks.
Cosmetic products must include a list of all ingredients on the product label using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system. Chlorocresol is identified under the INCI name P-Chloro-M-Cresol.