Melamine

1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine
CAS Registry Number 108-78-1

What is it?

  • The substance 1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine, also known as melamine, is an industrial chemical. It does not occur naturally in the environment.

How is it used?

  • In Canada, melamine has numerous industrial applications, mainly in the manufacture of polyurethane foams and melamine-based resins for laminates, plastics, paints and coatings. Melamine is also used as a flame retardant to slow the ignition and spread of fire.
  • Based on the most recent data, melamine is not manufactured in Canada, but is imported into the country.
  • Internationally, melamine is used in the synthesis of melamine-formaldehyde resins for similar applications as in Canada, in adhesives and moulding compounds, and has also been used in fertilizers.

Why is the Government of Canada assessing it?

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • Exposure to the general population to melamine is expected to be through environmental media (water and soil).
  • Canadians may also be exposed to melamine through food and the use of products available to consumers.

How is it released into the environment?

  • In Canada, melamine is expected to be released to the environment from industrial manufacturing, formulation and processing activities.
  • Releases from use and disposal of products or manufactured items containing melamine are expected to be low.

What are the results of the assessment?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of melamine, called a screening assessment.
  • Screening assessments address the potential for harm to the general population of Canada and to the environment.
  • Results of this draft screening assessment indicate that although melamine is not expected to accumulate in organisms, the substance may remain in the environment for a long period of time.
  • Furthermore, the quantity of melamine that may be released to the environment is below the level expected to cause harm to organisms.
  • The Government of Canada is therefore proposing that melamine is not entering the environment at levels that constitute a danger to the environment.
  • The Government of Canada is also proposing that melamine is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

  • The Government of Canada published the Draft Screening Assessment for Melamine on October 8, 2016, followed by a 60-day public comment period ending on December 7, 2016.
  • If the proposed conclusion is confirmed in the final screening assessment, the Government of Canada proposes that no further action be taken on melamine.

What can Canadians do?

  • The health risks associated with a chemical depend on the hazard (its potential to cause health effects) and the amount of chemical to which a person is exposed. Melamine is not presently a concern for the environment or for the health for the general population in Canada at current levels of exposure.
  • As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded when using any product to carefully follow any safety warnings and directions and to dispose of the products appropriately.
  • Canadians who may be exposed to melamine in the workplace should consult with their employer and 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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