Federal government deems 4 chemicals danger to humans

The federal government says four of the 19 chemicals it recently assessed are toxic to humans, although one of the four is so little used that it has only been put on a watch list.

The list of 19 released Saturday is a preliminary finding under the 2006 Chemical Management Plan, and starts a 60-day comment period on the government's proposals for managing the substances.

Those plans range from adding the substance to a do-not-use list for cosmetics to investigating floor sealers, latex paints, paint removers/strippers, sealants/caulkings, floor polishs and cleaners for DEGME (diethylene glycol monomethyl ether), the substance Canadians are most likely to run into.

A health Canada release said four substances regarded "as a high hazard to humans and as having a high likelihood of exposure to individuals in Canada" are:

DEGME, a widely used jet-fuel additive, pest-control product and solvent. Somewhere between one million kilograms and 10 million kilograms were imported in 2006. "The health effects associated with exposure to DEGME are primarily developmental and reproductive toxicity and hematological effects, based on observations in experimental animals."
2-MEA (Ethanol, 2-methoxy, acetate), an industrial solvent of which less than 100 kilograms was imported in to Canada in 2006. "Options for risk management for 2-MEA, among others, would be to investigate measures to reduce or eliminate the very small amount currently in use in Canada, and limit any future uses."
2-Methoxypropanol (Propanol, 2-methoxy), a byproduct from making a solvent which is not made in Canada, although up to 100,000 kilograms was imported in 2006. "Consumer products, particularly cosmetics" are the main source, so the government will add the chemcial to the comestic do-not -use list if it decides to take action.
The fourth product on the toxic list, 2-EEA (2-ethoxyethanol acetate) has also been put on a list of products that "currently not entering, or likely to enter, the environment as a result of commercial activity," but will be monitored in case new uses are found for it.

The other 11 substances have been found to be not toxic.

The government's assement of the 19 products was the third batch to go through its process, which will eventually assess 200 chemicals.

It was under the same program that Health Minister Tony Clement announced that the government would ban the import and sale of polycarbonate baby bottles containing bisphenol A, making Canada the first country in the world to limit exposure to the controversial chemical.

Environment Canada and Health Canada are expected to release the assessment of the next batch, which include an antimicrobial used in some shampoos and deodorants and an organic compound used in certain toiletries, on Nov. 15.

The program began in December 2006.