TR 103 – Toxicity of Possible Impurities and By-products in Fluorocarbon Products

Abstract

TR 103 : Toxicity of Possible Impurities and By-products in Fluorocarbon Products | December 2008

This report has been produced to accompany the ongoing series of reviews on fluorocarbons under the ECETOC Joint Assessment of Commodity Chemicals (JACC) programme.  It presents the available data on the physico-chemical properties and a critical evaluation of the toxicity of 30 (halogenated) hydrocarbons that may be found as impurities or by-products in hydrofluorocarbon and hydrochlorofluorocarbon products.  Most of the commercial fluorocarbons are not toxic (many are used as refrigerants), but the presence of a highly toxic compound, even at a modest level, could alter their toxicity.

Typically, the parent substances are produced to high levels of purity (greater than or equal to 99%). Therefore, the presence of low levels of impurities will not be a concern regarding REACH approval.  However, the identification of potential impurities that could be carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxicants (CMRs) will enable producers to set maximum levels and minimise these impurities in their commercial products.  This will thus avoid the need to register these impurities.  Products having higher levels of CMRs will require separate registration in addition to the requirements for the higher purity materials.

Looking over the list of 30 chemical substances covered in this report, there appear both saturated and unsaturated compounds with a short carbon chain (C1 to C4).  Larger molecules are easily removed in the product purification steps.  As most of the substances are not commercial products, generally there is little toxicology information available on them.  Also in some cases, reports of acute lethal concentrations vary widely and one must suspect that the purity of some of the materials may not have been known.
A list of impurities or by-products reviewed by other organisations is provided.