Natural gas condensates - information sheet

Updated March 6, 2019:

The Final Screening Assessment for Natural Gas Condensates was published in December 2016 under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). The assessment is summarized in this information sheet (formerly public summary) and has not changed. The section in this information sheet entitled "Preventive actions and reducing risk" communicates updates in risk management activities, namely:

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  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, of natural gas condensates (NGCs), 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.
  • As a result of the screening assessment, the Government concluded that these substances are harmful to human health and the environment, at levels of exposure at the time of the assessment.

About these substances

  • The screening assessment is a class-based assessment of NGCs, including 3 substances with CAS Registry Numbers (CAS RNs) 64741-47-5, 64741-48-6 and 68919-39-1. These substances are referred to collectively under the CMP as NCGs in the Petroleum Sector Stream Approach (Stream 4).
  • NGCs are complex combinations of petroleum hydrocarbons. They are primarily separated from raw natural gas. The assessment of NGCs also included their liquid distillates (liquid components separated during the distillation process of crude oil).
  • The composition of NGCs varies depending on the source of crude oil or natural gas, and how they are processed.
  • According to information gathered by the Government, NGCs are used to dilute heavy crude oil or bitumen. They are also used as industrial raw materials or as blending components in the production of gasoline.
  • NGCs are used as a fluid component in oil and gas well drilling operations.
  • They may be transported from a petroleum-sector facility to other industrial facilities (for example, for use as raw material or a blending component), but they are not expected to be available to the public.

Human and ecological exposures

  • Exposure of Canadians to NGCs is expected to occur primarily through the inhalation of evaporative emissions in the vicinity of NGC storage tanks or other facilities where NGC loading and unloading operations take place.
  • Releases of NGCs to the environment consist mainly of spills to air, land, and freshwater during oil and gas exploration, production and processing operations, and during pipeline transport, as well as releases to marine water during offshore production operations.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • Potential carcinogenicity (ability 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.
  • These substances are also considered to have ecological effects of concern, based upon their potential to harm freshwater and soil organisms, as the result of exposure through spills.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based upon the information presented in the screening assessment, it was determined that NGCs may pose a risk to human health, as there may be exposure to Canadians in the vicinity of storage tanks or near certain loading and unloading facilities.
  • It was also determined that there is risk of harm to the environment from these substances, based upon their potential to harm soil and aquatic organisms.
  • The Government published the Final Screening Assessment for Natural Gas Condensates on December 31, 2016.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of the screening assessment, the Government concluded that these substances are harmful to human health, at levels of exposure at the time of the assessment.
  • The Government also concluded that these substances are entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment at the time of the assessment.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

Related information

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).

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