The government of Canada has concluded that talc may be harmful to human health and therefore meets the criteria set out in paragraph 64(c) of CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act). Based on information presented in the draft screening assessment,1 it has been proposed to add talc to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1 of CEPA). The proposed risk management actions are outlined in the risk management scope.2
According to evidence presented in the draft screening assessment, there is a low risk of environmental harm due to talc. With respect to human health, no critical health effects were identified via oral and dermal exposure routes. Given the limited scope of Canadian talc production, inhalation exposure from industrial and commercial uses was also not identified to be of concern. The primary focus of the assessment is on inhalation and perineal exposure to self-care products containing talc.
Non-cancer lung effects of talc have been identified as a critical health effect for risk characterization. Additionally, human studies in the peer-reviewed literature indicate a positive causal association between perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer. Given that there is potential for exposure from the use of various self-care products, talc has been identified as a potential concern for human health.
The Government of Canada has outlined suggested risk management actions for talc should the proposed conclusion be confirmed in the final screening assessment. Measures include the prohibition or restriction of talc in certain cosmetics which can be inhaled or used perineally. This would be accomplished by modifying the existing entry on Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. Additionally, measures to reduce exposures from talc in certain natural health products and non-prescription drug products which can be inhaled or used perineally may be accomplished by modifying the existing entry in the Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Finally, communications to the public to help avoid inhalation and perineal exposure to talc have been proposed.
Comments with respect to the publication may be submitted to the Minister of the Environment until February 3rd, 2019. Stakeholders are encouraged to provide information pertaining to talc that may help inform the next steps. This may include new or planned manufacture, import, or use of the substance that has not yet been reported.