Furan Compounds Group

Learn about the 4 furan compounds and if they're safe.

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About furan compounds

The furan compounds group is made up of 4 substances:

  • furan
  • furfuryl alcohol
  • tetrahydrofuran
  • phenolphthalein

These compounds may be found in or used to make many consumer products, such as:

  • certain glues
  • wood strippers
  • paint and varnish removers
  • polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cement products

Furan and furfuryl alcohol can occur naturally in foods.

Safety of furan compounds

We assessed the potential health and environmental risks of furan compounds through a draft chemical risk assessment.

Furfuryl alcohol and tetrahydrofuran may pose a health risk if you use:

  • wood strippers that contain furfuryl alcohol
  • adhesive PVC cements that contain tetrahydrofuran

These substances may affect:

  • the liver
  • reproduction
  • the respiratory system
  • the central nervous system

There may also be an increased risk of cancer.

The draft assessment also proposes that:

  • furan and phenolphthalein are not harmful to our health at current levels of exposure
  • none of the 4 substances are harmful to the environment

Ongoing protective measures

We are considering measures to reduce our exposure to:

  • furfuryl alcohol from wood strippers
  • tetrahydrofuran from PVC solvent cements

Phenolphthalein may pose a risk to our health if there is an increase in:

  • levels
  • usage
  • activity

We will continue to track new information on exposure to and hazards of furan compounds to Canadians and the environment. We will take action as needed.

Minimize your exposure to furan compounds

To minimize your exposure:

  • store products properly
  • read the list of ingredients on product labels
  • follow safety warnings and directions on labels
    • use in well-ventilated areas
    • use personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks
  • follow the manufacturer's directions to dispose of the product safely
  • contact the manufacturer if you are unsure the product contains these substances

You may be exposed to these substances at work. If you are, talk to your employer and occupational health and safety (OHS) official about:

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