Industry-restricted petroleum and refinery gases - information sheet

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Overview

  • The Government of Canada conducts risk assessments of substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) to determine whether they present or may present a risk to human health or to the environment.
    • The risks posed by a substance are determined by both its hazardous properties (potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount or extent of exposure to people and the environment.
    • When needed, the Government implements risk management measures under CEPA 1999 and other federal acts to help prevent or reduce potential harm.
  • The Government concluded that these 4 industry-restricted petroleum and refinery gases (PRGs) are harmful to human health at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
    • The concern was due to a small portion of Canadians that may be exposed near petroleum facilities. These substances are associated with the potential to cause cancer. Risk management actions were taken.
  • The Government also concluded that these 4 industry-restricted PRGs are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

About these substances

  • The summary of Stream 2 substances and publications of the Petroleum Sector Stream Approach includes details on the substance names and CAS Registry Numbers.
  • The screening assessment focused on 4 substances, referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as industry-restricted PRGs under Stream 2 of the Petroleum Sector Stream Approach.
  • PRGs are a category of complex combinations of petroleum hydrocarbons. Their compositions vary depending on the source of the crude oil, bitumen, or natural gas, and how they are processed.
  • According to information gathered by the Government, PRGs are often used as fuel in petroleum facilities, or are further refined or blended into other products.
  • Industry-restricted PRGs may leave a petroleum-sector facility and be transported to other industrial facilities (for example, for use as a feedstock, fuel or blending component), but are not expected to be available to the public.

Human and ecological exposures

  • Exposure to Canadians is expected to be limited to the unintentional emissions of these substances in the vicinity of petroleum facilities.
  • Canadians are not expected to be exposed to industry-restricted PRGs during handling and transportation, because these gases are transported by pressurized systems designed to prevent or minimize releases.
  • Although measures and practices are in place to limit the releases of petroleum substances within the facility, unintentional releases of these substances into the atmosphere may occur.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • Carcinogenicity (potential to cause cancer) was considered to be the important or critical effect for these substances, used for characterizing the risk to human health in the assessment.
  • Some of these substances are also associated with ecological effects, based upon their potential to remain in the environment for a long time.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based upon the information presented in the screening assessment, it was determined that these 4 substances may pose a risk to human health, as there is a small portion of Canadians that may be exposed near petroleum facilities.
  • It was also determined that there is low risk of harm to the environment from these substances, as concentrations of components of PRGs in air surrounding petroleum facilities are not expected to be at levels that could result in harm to the environment.
  • None of these substances contain components that meet the bioaccumulation criteria as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations of CEPA 1999; however, many of the components of industry-restricted PRGs meet the persistence criteria, as they persist in the atmosphere.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • The Government concluded that these 4 industry-restricted PRGs are harmful to human health, at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
  • The Government also concluded that the substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

Where to find updates on risk management actions

Related resources

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