Flame Retardants Group - information sheet
On this page
- About these substances
- Human and ecological exposures
- Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- Risk assessment outcomes
- Preventive actions and reducing risk
- Related information
- The Government of Canada conducts risk assessments of substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) to determine whether they present or may present a risk to human health or to the environment.
- The risks posed by a substance are determined both by its hazardous properties (potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount or extent of exposure to people and the environment.
- When needed, the Government implements risk management measures under CEPA 1999 and other federal acts to help prevent or reduce potential harm.
- The ecological hazard and exposure potentials of TEP, TEHP, and BEHP were classified using the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances (ERC) Approach.
- The Government is proposing that IPPP and TEP may be harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
- For IPPP, the concern is potential exposure of infants and children to IPPP from lying on foam-containing mattresses or furniture (prolonged skin contact). IPPP is associated with reproductive effects, as well as effects on the adrenal glands and liver.
- For TEP, the concern is potential exposure of infants and children to TEP from sitting in infant or child restraint seats as well as potential exposure of all age groups from foam-containing mattresses or furniture (prolonged skin contact). TEP is associated with liver effects.
- The Government is also proposing that TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, and IPPP may be harmful to the environment as they may pose a risk to aquatic and sediment organisms, and certain wildlife.
- A variety of regulatory or non-regulatory risk management actions are being considered to help reduce human exposures to IPPP and TEP, and to minimize the release of TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, and IPPP to the environment.
About these substances
- The screening assessment summarized here focuses on 10 of 13 substances referred to as the Flame Retardants Group, assessed under the third phase of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
- The substances in this Group are being assessed under 2 subgroups and as 1 individual substance, TDBDPB. The aryl organophosphate (OP) subgroup consists of TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, and IPPP. The alkyl OP subgroup consists of TEP, TBOEP, TEHP, and BEHP. Domestic Substance List (DSL) and common names are found in the draft screening assessment report.
- The other 3 substances in the Group were determined to be of low concern to both human health and the environment through a separate approach. Conclusions for substances with the CAS RNs 26446-73-1, 68527-01-5, 68527-02-6 are provided in the Final Screening Assessment for the Rapid Screening of Substances with Limited General Population Exposure.
- According to information gathered by the Government, these aryl and alkyl OPs are mainly used in Canada as either additive flame retardants (mixed with the material without being chemically bonded) or plasticizers in various applications involving hydraulic fluids, plastics, rubber products, textiles, foam, paints, adhesives and sealants, and building materials. Some of these substances may also used in food packaging applications, foam (TEP) and as formulants in pest control products. TPHP is also used in nail care products.
Human and ecological exposures
- BDMEPPP was evaluated using the approach applied in the Rapid Screening of Substances with Limited General Population Exposure. The potential for exposure of Canadians to BDMEPPP was considered to be negligible.
- For the aryl OP subgroup, Canadians may be exposed to TPHP, BPDP, and IPPP from the environment (for example, dust, air or drinking water), food (except BPDP), and from lying on foam-containing mattresses or furniture. Children may also be exposed to some of these substances by mouthing toys and foam in products, such as nap mats and changing table pads. Exposure to IDDP is expected only from the environment. Exposure to TPHP may also occur from the use of various nail care products, such as nail polish.
- For the alkyl OP subgroup, exposures may occur from dust and indoor air (TEP, TBOEP, and TEHP), drinking water (TEP, TBOEP, and BEHP), food and breast milk (TBOEP), products available to consumers, including foam-containing mattresses or furniture (TEP and TBOEP), infant and child restraint seats (TEP and TBOEP), all-purpose remover for oven cleaning (TEP), floor sealant (TEHP), and from gear oil (BEHP). Children may also be exposed from the mouthing of foam in toys or products available to consumers containing TEP or TBOEP.
- Ecological exposures of substances in the aryl OP subgroup result from industrial processing activities and releases from products used by consumers, through wastewater to surface waters, and the application of biosolids to land. Given the likelihood of the substances to be used together or interchangeably, aryl OP substance quantities were combined into a total quantity for each 'use' to develop combined ecological exposure scenarios.
- Environmental release of TBOEP can occur during manufacture, industrial use, disposal of the substance, and from the use of commercial products and products available to consumers (household products, such as electronics, plastics). Releases occur primarily to water through wastewater.
- According to the information considered under the ERC Approach, TEP, TEHP, and BEHP (3 of the 4 alkyl OP substances) were identified as having low ecological exposure potential.
- No exposure to Canadians and potentially limited exposure to the environment is expected from TDBDPB since the substance has no known import or use in Canada, at this time.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- To identify human health and ecological effects information, international reports of data were considered.
- Critical effects identified for characterizing risk to human health in the draft screening assessment are as follows:
- for TPHP and BPDP, general toxicity to the body or organs
- for IPPP, reproductive effects, effects on the adrenal glands and liver
- for IDDP, BEHP, TEP, and TBOEP, effects on the liver
- for TEHP, effects on the thyroid
- Environmental effects considered in the ecological assessment included data from international reports as well as observed and modelled data.
- Aryl OPs are considered to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms with acute and chronic effects. These substances may have moderate to high toxicity on sediment and soil dwelling organisms. Also, they may cause neurobehavioral and developmental effects, as well as other effects in biota, including disruption to reproductive and endocrine systems.
- According to information considered under the ERC Approach, BEHP and TEHP were classified as having a moderate hazard potential based on their reactivity and potential to cause adverse effects in aquatic and terrestrial food webs, given their bioaccumulation potential. TEP was classified as having a high hazard potential based on its elevated reactivity.
- TBOEP is considered to have potential acute and chronic aquatic toxicity at low concentrations.
- TDBDPB may be susceptible to degradation by light, producing lower brominated substances, which may be persistent and are expected to have a much higher potential for bioaccumulation and toxicity than the parent compound.
Risk assessment outcomes
- The Government of Canada published the Draft Screening Assessment for the Flame Retardants Group on November 6, 2021. The public is invited to comment on this assessment during the 60-day public comment period ending on January 5, 2022.
- As a result of the assessment, it was determined that IPPP may pose a risk to human health. This was based upon a comparison of levels to which infants and children lying on foam-containing mattresses or furniture may be exposed to IPPP (from prolonged skin contact), and levels associated with the critical health effects.
- It was also determined that TEP may pose a risk to human health. This was based upon a comparison of levels to which infants and children sitting in infant or child restraint seats may be exposed to TEP (from prolonged skin contact), as well as levels to which Canadians (all age groups) lying on foam-containing mattresses or furniture may be exposed to TEP (from prolonged skin contact), and levels associated with critical health effects.
- Other sources of exposure that were considered for IPPP and TEP were not of concern at current levels of exposure, as detailed in the draft screening assessment.
- Similar comparisons of exposures to TPHP, BPDP, IDDP, TBOEP, TEHP, and BEHP and levels associated with health effects determined that the risk to human health from each of these 6 substances is low.
- BDMEPPP was evaluated using the approach applied in the Rapid Screening of Substances with Limited General Population Exposure, and is considered to be a low concern for human health.
- Exposure of Canadians to TDBDPB is not expected; therefore, the risk to human health is also considered low.
- In the ecological assessment, it was found that the aryl OP substances in this Group (TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, and IPPP) may pose a risk to aquatic and sediment organisms, and wildlife that consume fish containing aryl OP substances. Considering all information presented, it was determined that there is risk to the environment from all substances in the aryl OP subgroup.
- Based upon the outcome of theERC Approach, 3 substances (TEP, TEHP, and BEHP) in the alkyl OP subgroup are considered unlikely to be causing ecological harm.
- Considering all information presented, it was determined that there is low risk of harm to the environment from the fourth substance in the alkyl OP subgroup, TBOEP, as well as from TDBDPB.
Proposed screening assessment conclusions
- The Government is proposing that IPPP and TEP may be harmful to human health at levels of exposure considered in the assessment. It is also proposed that the other 8 substances in this group are not harmful to human health at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
- The Government is also proposing that TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, IPPP are entering or may enter the environment at concentrations that may be harmful to the environment. It is also proposed that the other 5 substances are not entering the environment at concentrations that are harmful to the environment.
- TPHP and TEP are proposed to meet the persistence criteria but not the bioaccumulation criteria; BPDP and IDDP do not meet the persistence criteria or the bioaccumulation criteria; and, BDMEPPP and IPPP are proposed to meet the bioaccumulation criteria but not the persistence criteria as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulationsof CEPA 1999.
Preventive actions and reducing risk
- The Government of Canada published the Risk Management Scope for TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, IPPP and TEP on November 6, 2021. The public is invited to comment on this document during the 60-day public comment period ending on January 5, 2022.
- If the proposed conclusion is confirmed in the final screening assessment, the Government will consider adding TPHP, BPDP, BDMEPPP, IDDP, IPPP and TEP to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, also called the List of Toxic Substances. Adding a substance to the list does not restrict its use, manufacture or import. Rather, it enables the Government to take risk management actions under CEPA 1999.
- The Government will consider implementing the following actions to address ecological and human health concerns:
- Implementing regulatory measures to minimize the release of aryl OP subgroup substances from industrial processing activities and from products available to consumers, through wastewater to the Canadian environment.
- Implementing regulatory or non-regulatory actions to help reduce dermal exposure of infants and children to IPPP and of the general population to TEP in certain products made with polymeric foams, such as polyurethane foam. These products may include upholstered furniture, mattresses, mattress toppers, infant or child restraint seats, and other foam-based products to which prolonged skin contact may be expected.
- Information is being sought by the Government to inform risk management decision-making. Details can be found in the risk management scope, including where to send information during the public comment period, ending January 5, 2022.
- Risk management options may evolve through consideration of assessments and risk management options or actions for other substances. This is to ensure effective, coordinated, and consistent risk management decision-making.
- Information on the risk management of substances addressed under the CMP is available.
- Although TBOEP and TDBDPB are not considered to be harmful to human health or to the environment at current levels of exposure, these substances are associated with environmental effects of concern. There may be a risk if exposure levels were to increase.
- For this reason, follow-up activities to track changes in exposure or commercial use patterns for TBOEP and TDBDPB are being considered.
- Stakeholders are encouraged to provide any information pertaining to TBOEP and TDBDPB that may help inform the choice of follow-up activities, during the 60-day public comment period on the assessment. This could include information on new or planned import, manufacture or use of the substances if not already submitted.
- A summary of the risk assessment and management of flame retardant substances under CEPA 1999 is available.
- Substances in this Flame Retardants Group may be found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions related to the product and dispose of productsresponsibly.
- Visit Do it for a Healthy Homefor information on chemical safety in and around the home, including on flame retardants (for consumers).
- The screening assessment focused on potential risks from exposure of the general population of Canada, rather than occupational exposure. Hazards related to chemicals used in the workplace are defined within the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. For information concerning workplace health and safety and what steps to take in the workplace, Canadians should consult their employer and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Regulator in their jurisdiction.
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