Nitro Musks Group - information sheet

  • Ethanone, 1-[4-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-2,6-dimethyl-3,5-dinitrophenyl]- (musk ketone)
    CAS Registry Number 81-14-1
  • Benzene, 1-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-3,5-dimethyl-2,4,6-trinitro- (musk xylene)
    CAS Registry Number 81-15-2

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Overview

  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, of the Nitro Musks Group to address the potential for harm to Canadians and to the environment.
  • 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.
  • Musk ketone and musk xylene may be associated with human health effects and ecological effects of concern; however, the risk to Canadians and the environment is low at current levels of exposure. Therefore, it is proposed that these substances are not harmful to human health or to the environment at current levels of exposure.

About these substances

  • This screening assessment focuses on 2 substances referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Nitro Musks Group. The substances addressed in this screening assessment are musk ketone and musk xylene.
  • The Government gathers information on substances, including details on their commercial status in Canada, to support the risk assessment and management of substances under the CMP.
  • Musk ketone and musk xylene do not occur naturally in the environment.
  • In Canada, they may be used as fragrances or fragrance ingredients in products that are available to consumers.

Exposure of Canadians and the environment

  • Canadians may be exposed to these substances from the environment (for example, indoor air), and from the use of products available to consumers, such as cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products.
  • Musk ketone and musk xylene are mainly released into wastewater through the use of consumer products or as a result of the formulation of cleaning and personal care products. These substances have the potential to be released to the environment through effluent and biosolids from wastewater treatment facilities. Such releases, however, are below levels of concern to aquatic and soil-dwelling organisms.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • Musk ketone and musk xylene have been assessed internationally by the European Commission, and these assessments were used to inform the ecological and human health effects characterization in this screening assessment.
  • Musk xylene was also reviewed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This review was used to inform the health effects characterization in this screening assessment.
  • For the human health assessment, the "critical" or important effects used for characterizing the risk to human health are decreased body weight and food consumption, and effects on the liver.
  • Musk ketone and musk xylene are considered to be persistent in the environment, have moderate to high bioaccumulation potential, and have potential to cause adverse effects in aquatic organisms at low concentrations.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based upon the information presented in this screening assessment, the risk to human health from musk ketone and musk xylene is considered to be low.
  • Considering all information presented, it was determined that there is low risk of harm to the environment from these substances.
  • The Government of Canada published the Draft Screening Assessment for the Nitro Musks Group on September 15, 2018. This publication has a 60-day public comment period ending on November 14, 2018.

Proposed screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of this assessment, the Government is proposing that musk ketone and musk xylene are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
  • The Government is also proposing that these substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

  • Although musk ketone and musk xylene are not considered to be harmful to the environment at current levels of exposure, these substances can cause adverse effects in aquatic organisms at low concentrations. Therefore, there may be a potential risk to the environment if quantities of these substances in the environment were to increase.
  • For this reason, follow-up activities to track changes in exposure and/or commercial use patterns for these substances are being considered.
  • Stakeholders are encouraged to provide any information pertaining to these substances that may help inform the choice of follow-up activity, during the 60-day public comment period on the assessment. This could include information on new or planned import, manufacture or use of the substance.

Important to know

  • Musk ketone and musk xylene are found in 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 substances 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)
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