Dichloromethane (DCM) – performance measurement evaluation

Methane, dichloro-
CAS Registry Number 75-09-2

Dichloromethane, also known as methylene chloride was first assessed by the Government of Canada in 1993, where it was found to be a possible risk to human health and the environment. A pollution prevention plan and a code of practice were implemented to help reduce environmental exposures of dichloromethane. To reduce dichloromethane exposures to the general population in Canada, risk management actions were established through section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act. One way Health Canada communicated this risk management action was to add dichloromethane to the Department’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.

Dichloromethane is mainly used as a solvent in paint and furniture stripping products, a blowing agent in foam production, as a component in aerosol products, and in other industrial process applications. Dichloromethane is not currently manufactured in Canada, but is imported from other countries.

Dichloromethane is currently classified as a probable carcinogen to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Non-cancer effects on the liver have also been associated with long-term exposure to dichloromethane in humans, while acute exposure via inhalation of high concentrations of dichloromethane can lead to serious effects on the central nervous system. Information collected by the Government of Canada shows that since risk management tools and actions came into effect:

  1. long-term levels of dichloromethane in outdoor air remain below levels of concern
  2. long-term levels of dichloromethane in indoor air remain below levels of concern
  3. notifications for 3 aerosol cosmetic products containing dichloromethane were received, and these products were removed from sale in Canada

Based on all the information available, the risk management actions taken by the Government of Canada have been successful in reducing the exposures of Canadians to dichloromethane through outdoor air and when using aerosol cosmetic products. More trending data on long-term indoor air concentrations of dichloromethane in Canada, are required to conclude on the impact of risk management measures.

Exposures to dichloromethane in the occupational setting, and from products containing dichloromethane available to consumers were not considered in the Priority Substances List assessment. Since such exposures have recently been deemed to be of concern in other jurisdictions, and there is evidence suggesting that products containing dichloromethane are available to consumers in Canada, there is a need to further characterize the possible risk from these exposures to dichloromethane.

Complete details on the performance measurement evaluation for dichloromethane can be found in the Performance Measurement Evaluation for Risk Management of Dichloromethane (DCM) / Methylene Chloride.

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