Health Canada, Environment Canada find acrylamide poses risk

August 26, 2009

Acrylamide may pose a risk to human health according to Health Canada and Environment Canada, who released final screening assessments and proposed risk management approaches for 19 substances assessed in Batch 5 of the Chemicals Management Plan. (Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate)—a chemical that may be used in furniture, electronics, building, and textile industries, and in the manufacture of cars—was also found as a chemical that may pose a risk to human health. The remaining 17 substances are not of concern to human health or the environment. The Government of Canada is recommending that acrylamide and (Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate) be added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).

The majority of acrylamide is used in the manufacture of various polymers, which in turn are used in ore processing, food packaging, plastic products, and in molecular biology laboratory applications. Minute levels of acrylamide also forms when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures, such as when making French fries or potato chips.

Health Canada is implementing a three-pronged risk management approach to reduce Canadians' exposure to acrylamide from food sources. The approach includes pressing the food industry to develop and implement acrylamide reduction strategies for use by food processors and the foodservice industry; regularly updating consumption advice; and coordinating risk management efforts for acrylamide in food with key international food regulatory partners.

The Government is also proposing to add acrylamide to the Health Canada Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and to the Environmental Emergencies Regulations of CEPA 1999.

The Government’s screening assessments are final; however, stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments on the recommended risk management options until Oct. 21, 2009.