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Naphthalene

CAS Registry Number 91-20-3

What Is It?

  • Naphthalene occurs naturally in the environment and is also a chemical used by industry in the manufacture of certain products.

How Is It Used?

  • Naphthalene is used in a variety of industrial uses including in solvents and fuel additives for the automotive industry, and as a solvent and corrosion inhibitor in the petroleum sector.
  • Naphthalene is also used in the manufacture of various products such as construction materials, pharmaceuticals, agriculture products and other chemicals.
  • Naphthalene is found in a variety of consumer products including paint solvents, mothballs and driveway sealant.
  • Based on the most recent data, naphthalene is both manufactured in Canada and imported into Canada.

Why Did the Government of Canada Assess It?

  • Naphthalene has been shown to cause cancer in some studies with laboratory animals and can affect the respiratory system of laboratory animals.  Although exposures to Canadians are low, the Government of Canada's objective is to minimize exposures to this substance.

What Is the Government of Canada Doing?

  • The Government of Canada has determined that naphthalene is "toxic" as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • The primary source of exposure to naphthalene is indoor air. Health Canada will undertake a study to better characterize the controllable sources of naphthalene in indoor air so that effective measures to reduce indoor air exposure to Canadians can be designed.
  • The Government of Canada will also investigate the development of guidelines for naphthalene levels in indoor air.
  • Although not currently used in cosmetics, the Government of Canada will propose to prohibit any possible future uses in cosmetics.
  • The continued use of naphthalene as an active ingredient in pest control products in Canada is being re-evaluated by Health Canada's pesticide re-evaluation program under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act. The re-evaluation is expected to be completed in 2008.

What Canadians Can Do

  • Canadians should ensure that solvents, paints and adhesives are well sealed before storing in a garage or other areas of the house, and should buy and store only the required quantity.
  • When using these products Canadians should read and follow the safety instructions provided on the label, particularly the advice to use in a well-ventilated area, and to wear the proper protective equipment.
  • Canadians who use mothballs should read and carefully follow the safety instructions provided on the label (e.g., store in airtight containers). Mothballs should be kept out of the reach of children.
  • Tobacco smoke contributes to naphthalene levels in indoor air. Health Canada recommends that Canadians should not smoke.