Canadian Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, and Minsiter of Environment, Jim Prentice, have announced that assessment measures of batches of chemical substances used in Canada have concluded that five of them are potentially harmful to human health (thiourea, Pigment Yellow 34, Pigment Red 104, isoprene and epichlorohydrin), while three others appear to be of concern to the environment.
“Although Canadians’ exposure to the five substances of concern to human health is very low, regulations are being proposed for four of these substances to prevent them from being used in the future without undergoing a new series of assessments. In addition, two of these substances will be added to the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist to prevent their future use in cosmetics,” the Government announced.
The substances that will be prohibited ain cosmetics are epichlorohydrin and isoprene, which are sometimes used to manufacture lipstick and other personal care products in the USA and Canada.
Three other substances were found toxic to the environment: siloxanes D4 and D5, and 2,4,6-tri-tert-butylphenol or TTBP.
Siloxanes D4 and D5 are used as emollients to soften the skin. Siloxanes are found in most personal care products on the market in Canada and the United States. The siloxanes are also used in textiles, paints and coatings, antiperspirants, sealants, lubricants, plastics, non-medical ingredients in pharmaceuticals, silicone polymers, food additives, surface treatments.
The final assessments conclude that siloxanes are not a concern for human health, based on the amount of these substances that an individual would be exposed to through the use of various products, including personal care products. However, siloxanes D4 and D5, which are widely used in products across Canada, are considered as entering the environment in relatively large quantities, stay in the environment a long time (persistent), and may harm fish and aquatic organisms.
“To limit the amount of D4 and D5 that is released to the environment, the Government of Canada is proposing to set a concentration limit for D4 and D5 in products. This will minimize the amount of D4 and D5 in personal care products that is released to municipal wastewater streams when they are washed off,” the Government explained.
The third substance (TTBP), a fuel additive, will be managed so that releases to the environment will be reduced below levels that can be measured.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 requires every new chemical substance made in Canada or imported from other countries since 1994 be assessed against specific criteria. In 2006, Canada completed the major task of systematically sorting through the approximately 23,000 existing substances introduced into Canada before the creation of stronger environmental legislation. This exercise was called "categorization."