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 7 hydrocarbon-based substances.
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.
As a result of this screening assessment, the 7 hydrocarbon-based substances are considered to have a low potential for risk to human health and the environment.
About these substances
The screening assessment focuses on 7 substances, referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Seven Hydrocarbon-based Substances. The substances addressed are spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil, naphtha waste, ethyne (acetylene), montan wax, montan-wax fatty acids and montan-wax fatty acids ethylene esters.
Spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil and naphtha waste are by-products or wastes generated by the petroleum industry which are recycled or reclaimed by refineries.
Ethyne is produced from chemical manufacturing and may be produced during the processing of natural gas liquids, naphtha, or gas oil.
According to information gathered by the Government, spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil, naphtha waste and ethyne are not used in products available to consumers, and are not expected to be released to the environment.
Montan wax is widely used in industrial processes and in products available to consumers including cosmetics, automotive products, and household cleaning products. It may also be used in food packaging materials; however, exposure from this source is considered to be negligible.
Montan-wax fatty acids and montan-wax fatty acids ethylene esters have similar uses to montan wax.
Human and ecological exposures
Exposure of Canadians and the environment to spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil and naphtha waste is not expected.
Exposure to small amounts of ethyne from automotive emissions in outdoor and indoor air is possible. However, Canadian air monitoring studies have shown the concentration of ethyne to be very low in outdoor and indoor air.
Exposure of Canadians to montan wax, montan wax fatty acids, and montan wax fatty acids ethylene esters through the use of cosmetics and other products available to consumers such as car waxes and cleaners is expected.
Exposure of the environment to montan wax, montan wax fatty acids, and montan wax fatty acids ethylene esters is expected to be low.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
For the human health assessment of spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil and naphtha waste no critical effects were identified.
Spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil and naphtha waste are expected to have moderate hazardous properties to aquatic organisms.
Ethyne, monton wax, monton-wax fatty acid and montan-wax fatty acid ethylene ester are considered to represent a low hazard to human health and the environment.
Risk assessment outcomes
Releases of spent sulphidic caustic, slop oil, and naphtha waste are expected to be minimal therefore exposure of the general population and the environment is not expected. The potential to cause harm to human health for the general population of Canada or to the environment is expected to be low.
Ethyne has been measured at low concentrations in the environment, and it has a low ecological and human health hazard, therefore potential to cause harm is low.
Available data indicates that montan wax, montan-wax fatty acid and montan-wax fatty acid ethylene ester substances represent a low hazard to human health. The substances are considered to be of moderate hazard and low exposure of the environment is limited given the effectiveness of the removal process during wastewater treatment.
As a result of this assessment, the Government is concluding that these 7 substances are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
The Government is also concluding that the substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.
These substances may be 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 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).