Hexabromocyclododecane  (HBCD) - information  sheet

Cyclododecane, 1,2,5,6,9,10-hexabromo-
CAS Registry Number: 3194-55-6

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  • 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 hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). The assessment was completed in 2011.
  • 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 and 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.
  • As a result of the screening assessment, the Government concluded that HBCD is harmful to the environment but not to human health, at levels of exposure at the time of the assessment.

About this substance

  • The screening assessment focused on the substance cyclododecane, 1,2,5,6,9,10-hexabromo-, also referred to as hexabromocyclododecane or HBCD. HBCD is a brominated flame retardant.
  • Flame retardants are used to slow the ignition and spread of fire.
  • At the time of the assessment, HBCD was mainly used as a flame retardant in polystyrene foam insulation for building materials. Also, it had uses as a flame retardant in textiles for residential and commercial upholstered furniture, transportation seating, wall coverings and draperies. It had minor uses in adhesives, paints, plastics and electronic goods.

Human and ecological exposures

  • The assessment indicated that Canadians may be exposed to HBCD from environmental sources (for example, air, water and soil), household dust, food (including human breast milk), and from using certain products available to consumers containing this substance.
  • This assessment took into consideration the results of human biomonitoring studies, which is the measurement of substances in blood, urine or breast milk. The presence of a substance in the body does not necessarily mean that it is causing harm. Harmful effects will depend on the levels and the properties of the substances. The information on measured levels in humans is important to estimating exposure to Canadians.
  • The assessment also indicated that HBCD may be released to air, water, soils, and sediments from industrial processes.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • Available information indicated that HBCD may have adverse developmental and reproductive health effects. These were considered to be the important or "critical" effects used for characterizing the risk to human health in this assessment.
  • The assessment found that HBCD had the potential to cause adverse effects to sensitive aquatic organisms at low concentrations.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • For the human health assessment, a comparison was made between levels to which Canadians may be exposed to HBCD and levels associated with health effects. It was determined that HBCD did not pose a risk to human health.
  • Considering all the information presented in the ecological assessment, it was determined that HBCD posed a risk to the environment.
  • Also, HBCD was proposed to meet the persistence and bioaccumulation criteria as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations of CEPA 1999.
  • The Government of Canada published the Final Screening Assessment for Hexabromocyclododecane on November 12, 2011.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of the final screening assessment, the Government concluded that HBCD is not harmful to human health at levels of exposure current at the time of the assessment.
  • The Government also concluded that HBCD is entering the environment at concentrations that may be harmful to the environment, and meets the criteria for virtual elimination (set out in the CEPA 1999).

Preventive actions and reducing risk

Related information

  • HBCD may be found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions on product labels and dispose of productsresponsibly.
  • Visit Healthy Home for more information on chemical safety in and around the home.
  • Canadians who may be exposed to HBCD in the workplace should 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).

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