Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2017-12, Hydrogen Peroxide and Its Associated End-use Products

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Pest Management Regulatory Agency
31 August 2017
ISSN: 1925-0967 (PDF version)
Catalogue number: H113-27/2017-12E-PDF (PDF version)

This page is a summary of the consultation document. If you would like to comment, please request the full consultation document.

To obtain a full copy of Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2017-12, Hydrogen Peroxide and its Associated End-use Products please contact our publications office.

Should you require further information please contact the Pest Management Information Service.

Summary

Table of Contents

What is the Proposed Re-evaluation Decision?

After a re-evaluation of hydrogen peroxide as an algaecide, bactericide, fungicide, slimicide, sanitizer and acaricide, the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act and Regulations, is proposing continued registration of products containing hydrogen peroxide for sale and use in Canada.

An evaluation of available scientific information found that products containing hydrogen peroxide do not present unacceptable risks to human health or the environment when used according to the proposed label directions.As a condition of the continued registration of hydrogen peroxide uses, new risk-reduction measures are proposed to be included on the labels of all products. This proposal (Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2017-12, Hydrogen Peroxide and Its Associated End-use Products) affects all end-use products containing hydrogen peroxide registered in Canada.

This Proposed Re-evaluation Decision (PRVD) is a consultation document that summarizes the science evaluation for hydrogen peroxide and presents the reasons for the proposed re-evaluation decision.

The information in PRVD2017-12 is presented in two parts. The 'Overview' describes the regulatory process and key points of the evaluation, while the 'Science Evaluation' provides additional information on the assessment of hydrogen peroxide.

The PMRA will accept written comments on PRVD2017-12 up to 90 days from the date of publication of PRVD2017-12. Please forward all comments to Publications.

What Does Health Canada Consider When Making a Re-evaluation Decision?

The PMRA pesticide re-evaluation program considers potential risks, as well as value, of pesticide products to ensure they meet modern standards established to protect human health and the environment.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is used as an algaecide, bactericide, fungicide, slimicide, sanitizer and acaricide and has a broad use pattern including use in aquaculture, agriculture, industry and as a hard and soft surface sanitizer.

Hydrogen peroxide is used as a broadcast spray or foam to clean hard surfaces and equipment in greenhouses, direct injection to clean greenhouse irrigation, humidification and recycled water systems and to treat water used to irrigate greenhouse crops.

Applications of hydrogen peroxide to outdoor and greenhouse ornamental crops may be made through chemigation, mist, fog, foliar spray and as a drench to soil or media. Hydrogen peroxide is applied by direct injection into misting systems to control algae growth on plant propagation material (that is cuttings, seeds and bulbs). Applications to greenhouse tomatoes and turf are made as a foliar spray.

Hydrogen peroxide is also used as a storage treatment on root crops (potato and sweet potato) and is applied as a spray treatment or is directly injected into humidification water. It is also added to wash water or as a fog to harvested fruits and vegetables.

As a slimicide, hydrogen peroxide is co-formulated with peroxyacetic acid to control microorganisms in pulp and paper mill systems, recirculating cooling water systems, on-shore oilfield and gas-field well operations as well as wastewater and sewage treatment systems.

Hydrogen peroxide is also registered as ready-to-use domestic and commercial class sanitizers on hard and/or soft surfaces.

As an acaricide, hydrogen peroxide used to control sea lice on Atlantic salmon. It is added to the water contained in wellboats (boats that contain large reservoirs to house fish), or to the water contained within completely enclosed tarpaulins in marine aquatic sites.

Health Considerations

Can Approved Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide Affect Human Health?

Hydrogen peroxide is unlikely to affect your health when used according to the label directions.

Potential exposure to hydrogen peroxide may occur by applying the end-use product, entering treated sites, or consuming food and water. The PMRA considers two key factors when assessing health risks, two key factors are considered by the PMRA:

  • the levels where no health effects occur, and
  • the levels to which people may be exposed.

The levels used to assess risks are established to protect the most sensitive human population (for example, children and nursing mothers). As such, sex and gender are taken into account in the risk assessment. Continued registration is only supported for uses that are determined as having no health risks of concern.
Toxicology studies in laboratory animals describe potential health effects resulting from various levels of exposure to a chemical and identify dose levels at which no effects are observed.

Hydrogen peroxide is highly acutely toxic by the oral route, slightly toxic by the dermal route, and moderately toxic by the inhalation route of exposure. Technical Grade Active Ingredient hydrogen peroxide is considered to be corrosive to the skin and severely irritating or corrosive to the eyes, but it is not expected to be a skin sensitizer.

Available information on short-term and long-term (lifetime) animal toxicity tests were assessed for the potential of hydrogen peroxide to cause neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, chronic toxicity, cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, genetic damage, and various other effects. There are no reports indicating short- or long-term effects resulting from hydrogen peroxide's long history of use as a commodity chemical and a pesticide. This is to be expected from hydrogen peroxide's inability to accumulate in animal tissues due to its rapid decomposition to simple water and oxygen.

Risks in Residential and Other Non-Occupational Environments

Estimated risk for residential and other non-occupational exposure is not of concern.

Residential exposure to hydrogen peroxide can occur through application and by handling treated surfaces. Risk from residential exposure is not of concern under the current conditions of use.

Occupational Risks From Handling Products Containing Hydrogen Peroxide

Occupational risks are not of concern when products containing hydrogen peroxide are used according to the label directions, which include protective measures.

For the assessment of occupational exposure and risks, emphasis has been placed on hydrogen peroxide's potential acute toxicity.

Risk from occupational exposures to workers mixing, loading and applying hydrogen peroxide as well as to workers re-entering treated sites, are not of concern under current conditions of use for all uses.

Exposure to bystanders is expected based upon the registered use patterns and is not expected to be of concern.

Residues in Water and Food

Dietary risks from food and water are not of concern.

Risk from dietary exposure through consumption of food commodities and drinking water is not of concern under the current conditions of use. Based on the registered use patterns of hydrogen peroxide, dietary exposure (food + water) is expected to be negligible. Moreover, considering its long history of use as a commodity chemical, its natural occurrence in animal cells, and rapid decomposition in the environment as well as in animals, dietary exposure to hydrogen peroxide residues from use as a pesticide, however unlikely, is not of concern for all populations.

Environmental Considerations

What Happens When Hydrogen Peroxide is Introduced into the Environment?

Hydrogen peroxide is not expected to pose risks of concern to the environment when used according to the proposed label directions.

Hydrogen peroxide enters the environment following application, clean-up or discharge of effluent.

Based on the use pattern, environmental release of hydrogen peroxide from post-harvest treatment of fruits and vegetables, use in greenhouses and industrial uses (such as wastewater and sewage effluent or oil and gas fields) is expected to be minimal. Risk from the discharge of effluent water is also not expected to be of concern.

Hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly in natural soils and natural aquatic environments and is not expected to build-up in soil and water. Hydrogen peroxide is not expected to be mobile in soil and has low potential to move through the soil and reach groundwater. Volatilization and long-range transport are also not expected. Hydrogen peroxide is not expected to accumulate in the tissues of organisms.

For use in aquaculture, hydrogen peroxide may pose a short-term risk to marine algae located close to the treated area. Due to the rapid reproduction rates of algae species coupled with the introduction of new algae populations by tidal flushing, hydrogen peroxide is not expected to pose a risk to algae populations. Hydrogen peroxide is not expected to pose a risk to other non-target marine organisms.

Terrestrial vascular plants can be exposed to hydrogen peroxide from drift following application to turf and outdoor ornamentals. Risk to terrestrial habitats is however not expected to be of concern.

Exposure of aquatic organisms to hydrogen peroxide may also occur following application to turf and outdoor ornamentals. A potential risk of concern from spray drift to off-target sensitive habitats was identified. As a result, buffer zones of 1 to 5 m are proposed to protect aquatic habitats.

Measures to Minimize Risk

Labels of registered pesticide products include specific instructions for use. Directions include risk-reduction measures to protect human health and the environment. These directions must be followed by law. As a result of the re-evaluation of hydrogen peroxide, the PMRA is proposing further risk-reduction measures related to human health and the environment for product labels.

  • Human Health
    • Additional precautionary label statement to minimize bystander exposure from spray drift
  • Environment
    • Buffer zone to protect non-target aquatic organisms
    • Environmental Precautions and Directions for Use label statements

What Additional Scientific Information is Required?

No additional data are required.

Next Steps

Before making a final re-evaluation decision on hydrogen peroxide, the PMRA will consider any comments received from the public in response to Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2017-12, Hydrogen Peroxide. A science-based approach will be applied in making a final decision on hydrogen peroxide. The PMRA will then publish a Re-evaluation Decision that will include the decision, the reasons for it, a summary of comments received on the proposed decision and the PMRA response to these comments.

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