Sector-specific Inorganic UVCBs Group – information sheet

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  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, of 57 substances in the Sector-Specific Inorganic UVCBs 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.
  • Exposure to these 57 substances is either not expected or negligible. Therefore, it is concluded that these 57 substances are not harmful to human health or to the environment.

About these substances

  • Fifty-seven substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products and biological materials (UVCBs) were included in the Sector-specific Inorganic UVCBs Group. These substances were assessed as part of the third phase of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
  • These substances were grouped for assessment because they are expected to remain at the facility’s site, they are used in activities of a particular industry sector, and they have limited potential for exposure to humans or the environment.
  • The 5 main sectors of activity for these 57 substances are base metals processing, iron and steel manufacturing, aluminum smelting and automotive parts manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, and cement manufacturing.
  • The Government gathers information on substances, including details on their commercial status in Canada, to support risk assessment and risk management of substances under the CMP.
  • In Canada, these 57 substances are mainly industrial chemicals, including some that are intermediates (transformed into another substance or used up in the manufacturing process), by-products (unintentionally produced) or wastes. These substances are not expected to occur naturally in the environment.

Exposure of Canadians and the environment

  • These 57 substances were assessed under a streamlined approach focused on exposure characterization that considered information on commercial activities, as well as existing measures to prevent or limit exposure to the environment and to Canadians.
  • It was found that these substances are either no longer in commerce, transformed in industrial processes as intermediates, disposed at the site of industrial facilities as wastes, or used as by-products if meeting certain environmental standards.
  • Therefore, exposure of the environment and of Canadians through the environment to these 57 substances is either not expected or negligible.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • Given the approach used and that exposure to these 57 substances is either not expected or is negligible, the hazardous characteristics of these substances are not defined in this assessment.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based on the information presented in this screening assessment, the risk to human health from these 57 substances is low.
  • Results of the final screening assessment also indicate that there is low risk of harm to the environment from these 57 substances.
  • The Government of Canada published the Final Screening Assessment for the Sector-specific Inorganic UVCBs Group on August 25, 2018.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of this assessment, the Government concluded that these 57 substances are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
  • The Government also concluded that these 57 substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

  • Although exposure to these substances is either not expected or is negligible, many of these UVCBs have individual components that are known hazardous substances that are listed on the List of Toxic Substances, such as lead. Measures (for example, federal regulations or voluntary measures) are in place to minimize releases from facilities and to limit exposures to the environment and to people.

Important to know

  • 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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