OTTAWA, Ont. — Environment Canada announced this month that it has recommended a new regulation limiting D4 and D5 silicones in waste streams to prevent their buildup in the environment. D5 is an ingredient in many personal-care products in Canada and the United States, as well as the main ingredient in GreenEarth solvent.
The silicones are not released in quantities sufficient to cause concern for human health, the agency says, but have displayed potential to persist in aquatic environments and bioaccumulate, presenting a toxicity risk to fish and other aquatic organisms. As a result, Canada is developing the regulation to limit the amount of D4 and D5 released into wastewater streams in the products’ use and manufacture.
Most personal-care products available in Canada and the U.S., including deodorants, lipsticks and shampoos, include the cyclic siloxanes as emollients or lubricants. D4 and D5 are also used in textiles, paint products, food additives and medical applications. Canada’s Chemicals Management Program (CMP) will treat the chemicals as Batch 2 toxic substances — the first edict covering their use.
“The government of Canada is doing its part to protect Canada’s environment from the harmful effects of chemical substances,” says Environment Minister Jim Prentice. “This means harmful substances will be stopped from entering the environment and becoming a problem for future generations.”
The assessment is part of a comprehensive review of 200 different chemicals to confirm their safety for human health and the environment. No action has yet been taken on this recommendation, and will factor in additional information from recent scientific studies on silicone persistence and toxicity, according to the Silicones Environmental, Health & Safety Council (SEHSC).
“We fully expect these studies to demonstrate that D4 and D5 are safe for the environment and that action is not needed,” the group said in a statement. “More than 130 studies show these cyclic siloxanes are safe for human health and the environment in all intended uses.”
Officials with GreenEarth are confident that Canada will continue to approve the company’s silicone-based drycleaning process. Because GreenEarth runs in closed-loop machines and never enters the wastewater stream, users should be subject to minimal regulatory requirements.
“We are pleased with the measured approach Canada has been taking,” says Tim Maxwell, president of Kansas City-based GreenEarth Cleaning. “The science on chemical substances is constantly evolving, and it is important that regulatory decisions remain science-driven. We feel very good about what the future holds for our Canadian affiliates.”
Interest in GreenEarth is at an all-time high, Maxwell adds, and the company now has more than 1,400 licensed machines in operation. “We have proven time and again that we are a safe alternative to perc. We clean effectively, and we have the unique advantage of being economically viable in the marketplace.”