Epichlorohydrin Profile

INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS  PROBABLE CARCINOGEN (IARC 2A)

CAS No. 106-89-8
IARC Supplement 7, 1987 (Group 2A)
IARC Monograph Vol. 71, 1999 (Group 2A)

Epichlorohydrin Profile

General Information

Epichlorohydrin is a colorless liquid with an irritating, pungent odour.[1,2] It does not occur naturally in the environment[3]; it is a chemical intermediate used to make a wide variety of products.[4] Epichlorohydrin may also be referred to as chloropropylene oxide or 1-chloro-2,3-epoxypropane.[5] There are numerous other synonyms and product names; see the Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for more information.[5]

Epichlorohydrin has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans, with sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals.[6] Studies of mice and rats show increased digestive, respiratory, nasal cavity, and dermal cancers following exposure to epichlorohydrin.[6] One epidemiological study of exposed factory workers showed an excess of respiratory cancers; however there was concomitant exposure to another potentially carcinogenic substance.[1] Some epidemiological studies have shown possible excesses in lung and central nervous system cancers; however results were inconsistent and based on small study numbers.[6]

Additional health effects following short-term exposure to epichlorohydrin may include skin irritation and damage to the liver, kidneys, and/or central nervous system.[2] Long-term exposure may result in eye, skin, and stomach irritation, chromosome aberrations, adverse changes in blood, and cancer.[2]

Regulations and Guidelines

Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21]

Canadian Jurisdictions OEL (ppm)
Canada Labour Code 0.5 [sk]
AB, MB, NB, NL, NS, ON, PE 0.5 [sk]
BC 0.1 [sk, rt]
NT, NU, SK 0.5 [sk]
1.5 [stel]
QC 2 [sk, em]
YT 5 [sk]
10 [stel]
Other Jurisdiction OEL (ppm)
ACGIH 2018 TLV 0.5 [sk]
ppm = parts per million
sk = easily absorbed through the skin
stel = short term exposure limit (15 min. maximum)
rt = reproductive toxin
em = exposure must be reduced to the minimum
ACGIH = American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
TLV = threshold limit value

Canadian Environmental Guidelines

Jurisdiction Limit Year
BC’s Contaminated Sites Regulation,
BC Reg 375/96
Sets vapour standards for the protection of human health:
Agricultural, urban park, residential use standard: 1 μg/m3
Commercial use standard: 3 μg/m3
Industrial use standard: 9 μg/m3
Parkade use standard: 8 μg/m3
(Vapours derived from soil, sediment, or water)
2017[22]
Health Canada’s List of Permitted
Food Additives
Not permitted 2016[23,24]
Cosmetic Ingredients Hotlist Not Permitted 2010[25]
μg/g = micrograms per gram
μg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter

Epichlorohydrin was not included in other Canadian government environmental guidelines reviewed.[26,27,28,29,30,31]

Canadian Agencies/Organizations

Agency Designation/Position Year
Health Canada DSL – high priority substance with greatest potential for exposure 2006[32]
Challenge to Industry Batch 2 (health for ‘oxirane (chloromethyl)’) 2008[33]
CEPA Schedule 1 (‘oxirane (chloromethyl)’) 2011[34]
National Classification System
for Contaminated Sites
Rank = “High hazard”, potential human carcinogen 2008[35]
Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory Reportable to NPRI if manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at quantities greater than 10 tonnes. 2016[36]
DSL = domestic substance list
CEPA = Canadian Environmental Protection Act
Epichlorohydrin was not included in other Canadian government chemical listings reviewed.[37,38] The 2008 screening assessment concluded that epichlorohydrin meets the CEPA criteria for danger to human life or health (based on the critical effect of carcinogenicity), and also for persistence in air. Epichlorohydrin did not meet the criteria for bioaccumulation potential as stated in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations, nor did it meet the criteria for persistence in water, soil or sediment.[4]

Main Uses

Epichlorohydrin is primarily used to produce epoxy resins for protective linings in food and beverage cans.[4] Epoxy resins are also used in paints and other coatings, structural composites, printed circuit board laminates, semiconductor encapsulants, tooling, molding, casting, and adhesives.[3,4]

Other products manufactured using epichlorohydrin include phenoxy resins used to make thermoplastic polymers; anion exchange resins and flocculants used to treat drinking and waste water; and resins and polymers used to produce textiles, paper, and cellulose products.[4] Epichlorohydrin is also commonly used as a stabilizer,[1] and to produce synthetic glycerol, a component in manufacturing personal care products, drugs, food, and beverages.[4]

Canadian Production and Trade

In 2006, epichlorohydrin was not manufactured in or imported into Canada at amounts exceeding 100 kg per company.[4] It is likely imported into Canada in small quantities as a residual monomer in products containing epichlorohydrin-derived resins.[3]

Production and Trade

Activity Quantity Year
Global Annual Production 903,000 t 2008[4]
Canadian Production Not manufactured in Canada above
the 100 kg threshold
2006[4]
Export: None recorded N/A 2015[39]
Import: 15 t of ‘1-chloro-2,3-epoxypropane’ 2015[39]
t = tonne

Environmental Exposures Overview

Environmental exposure to epichlorohydrin may occur through inhalation, dermal absorption, or ingestion.[4] Environmental and consumer product exposures in Canada are expected to be very low, since epichlorohydrin is present only as a residual substance.[3] Measured concentrations of epichlorohydrin in the environment, food, or water in Canada were not available.[3]

There is potential for exposure to epichlorohydrin from food in contact with polyamide-epichlorohydrin resin papers and cans lined with epoxy resin coatings. However, estimates for these types of exposures are low.[4] Low levels of epichlorohydrin have been detected in water.[6] Very low levels of epichlorohydrin may contaminate water after it is used in water treatment to remove suspended solids. Contamination is also possible when epoxy resin coatings leach into water.[1,40,41] However, these levels are expected to be very low.[4]

Health Canada predicts that exposure to epichlorohydrin in indoor or ambient air by inhaling emissions from commercial products (such as epoxy resins, adhesives, coatings, and putties) is negligible.[3]

Residual epichlorohydrin in cosmetic products may lead to exposure via inhalation and dermal routes. Although residual concentrations in these products are unknown and exposure cannot be quantified, it is expected to be low.[3]

Epichlorohydrin is reportable to Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory but no releases have been reported since 2003, when a resin/synthetic rubber company released 0.002 tonnes.[42]

A search for ‘epichlorohydrin’ in the United States Household Products Database produced the following results:

US Household Products Database

US Household Products 2016[43]
Search Term Quantity Product Type
‘Bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin polymer,
tall oil fatty acids ester’
1 Spray enamel (aerosol)
‘Bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin polymer’ 33 Resins, epoxies, and hardeners
‘Bisphenol A, formaldehyde,
epichlorohydrin polymer’
2 Epoxies
‘Fatty acids, tall-oil, polymers with bisphenol A,
diethylenetriamine, epichlorohydrin and
tetraethylenepentamine’
3 Epoxies, primers

Occupational Exposures Overview

Exposure may occur through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact when epichlorohydrin is produced and/or synthesized in occupational settings.[1]

CAREX Canada estimates that approximately 6,600 Canadians are exposed to epichlorohydrin in their workplace. Exposure typically occurs in the following industries: automotive repair and maintenance; paint, coating, and adhesive manufacturing; and miscellaneous manufacturing. The largest exposed occupational groups are other labourers in processing, manufacturing, and utilities, followed by motor vehicle body repairers. Other important occupations that are likely exposed to epichlorohydrin in Canada involve aerospace products and parts manufacturing and plastic products manufacturing.

For more information, see the occupational exposure estimate for epichlorohydrin.

Sources

1. National Toxicology Program (NTP). 13th Report on Carcinogens for Epichlorohydrin (2014)
5. US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) (Search term: ‘Epichlorohydrin’)
6. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monograph summary, Volume 71 (1999) (PDF)
12. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Regulation 5,12 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (2012)
13. Government of the Northwest Territories. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, R-039-2015 (2016) (PDF)
15. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Government of Nunavut’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Nu Reg 003-2016 (2010)
17. Government of Prince Edward Island. Occupational Health and Safety Act Regulations Chapter 0-1 (2013) (PDF)
19. Government of Saskatchewan. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 (2016) (PDF)
20. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Yukon’s Occupational Health Regulations, O.I.C. 1986/164 (2012) (PDF)
21. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Annotated PELs (2018)
22. Government of British Columbia. Contaminated Sites Regulation B.C. Reg. 375/96 (2017)
25. Health Canada. Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist (2014)
28. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards, O Reg 169/03 (2017)
29. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water, CQLR c Q-2, r 40 (2014)
30. Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria (2016)
31. Alberta Environment and Parks. Ambient Air Quality Objectives (2017)
35. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). National Classification System for Contaminated Sites (2008) (PDF)
37. Environment and Climate Change Canada. CEPA List of Toxic Substances (1999)
38. International Joint Commission. Revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 (1978) (PDF)
39. International Trade Centre. TradeMap (Free subscription required)
42. Environment and Climate Change Canada. National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Facility Search (Substance name: ‘Epichlorohydrin’)
43. US Household Products Database (HPD). Household Products (Search term: ‘Epichorohydrin’)

Other Resources

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Epichlorohydrin in Drinking Water (2004) (PDF)
  2. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) INCHEM. Epichlorohydrin Health and Safety Guide No. 8 (1987)
  3. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) INCHEM. Environmental Health Criteria 33 Epichlorohydrin (1984)
  4. Environment Canada. Summary of Public Comments Received on the Government of Canada’s Draft Screening Assessment Report and Risk Management Scope on Epichlorohydrin (CAS 106-89-8) (2013)
  5. Bell et al. “Glycerin as a renewable feedstock for epichlorohydrin production: The GTE Process”Clean – Soil Air Water2008;36(8):657-661.

Subscribe to our newsletters

The CAREX Canada team offers two regular newsletters: the biannual e-Bulletin summarizing information on upcoming webinars, new publications, and updates to estimates and tools; and the monthly Carcinogens in the News, a digest of media articles, government reports, and academic literature related to the carcinogens we’ve classified as important for surveillance in Canada. Sign up for one or both of these newsletters below.

CAREX Canada

Faculty of Health Sciences

Simon Fraser University
Harbour Centre Campus
2602 - 515 West Hastings St
Vancouver, BC  V6B 5K3
CANADA

© 2019 CAREX Canada