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 4 substances in the Epoxy Resins 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 or 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 Epoxy Resins Group may be associated with human health and/or ecological effects of concern; however, exposure to Canadians and the environment from these substances is low. Therefore, it is proposed that these 4 substances are not harmful to human health or to the environment.
About these substances
This screening assessment focuses on 4 substances. Three of them are Diglycidyl Ether of Bisphenol A (DGEBA) epoxy resins (CAS RNs 25036-25-3; 25068-38-6 and 25085-99-8) and the other is a Novolac epoxy resin (CAS RN 28064-14-4). They are referred to collectively as the Epoxy Resins Group and were assessed under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
These substances were previously prioritized based on hazard and exposure under the Second Phase of Polymer Rapid Screening and were identified as requiring further assessment due to potential human health and/or ecological risks.
The substances in the Epoxy Resins Group do not occur naturally in the environment.
According to information gathered, these substances are used in Canada in paints/coatings and as plating agents, as intermediates in the manufacture of other products, in adhesives and sealants in grout, flooring, plastics and concrete, and in lubricants and additives.
These substances are also used in the petroleum production process to prevent corrosion and build-up.
In addition, all 4 epoxy resins have been identified as components used in the manufacture of some food packaging materials.
Human and ecological exposures
Canadians may be exposed to DGEBA epoxy resins from the potential transfer of an insignificant amount of the resin from food packaging materials into food, including canned liquid infant formula products. Exposure is very low because these substances are used up in the chemical reaction when the packaging is made.
Dietary exposure to Novolac epoxy resin from food packaging material is also expected to be negligible to both adults and children.
Canadian exposure to all 4 epoxy resins through the dermal route (skin contact) from handling food packages is considered not harmful. In addition, exposure to these substances by inhalation is not expected. Indirect exposure (such as through residues in drinking water) is also not expected.
In Canada, the 3 DGEBA epoxy resins have the potential to be released to the environment during industrial processes.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
DGEBA and Novolac epoxy resins contain epoxy groups. At certain levels, epoxides are known to be associated with potential adverse human health effects, including effects on the spleen and skin sensitization. These were considered to be the important or "critical" effects used for characterizing the risk to human health in the assessment for these substances.
The 3 DGEBA epoxy resins are expected to show low to moderate toxicity to aquatic organisms (such as algae, zooplankton and fish).
The potential for Novolac epoxy resin to cause ecological harm is evaluated in the second phase of polymer rapid screening.
Risk assessment outcomes
Based upon a comparison of levels to which Canadians may be exposed to these substances, and levels associated with health effects, it is concluded that the risk to human health from these 4 substances is low.
Considering the information presented in this assessment, as well as in the Second Phase of Polymer Rapid Screening assessment, there is low risk of harm to organisms and the environment from these 4 substances.
As a result of the assessment, the Government is concluding that the 4 substances in the Epoxy Resins Group are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
The Government is also concluding that these 4 substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.
These 4 substances can be found in certain 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 4 epoxy resins 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).