Banned carcinogen found in 88% of household objects, says new study

By Grace van Deelen

A banned chemical that potentially causes cancer in humans has been discovered in a wide array of household products, according to a study out today. 

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are a group of chemicals that are used in metalworking and the production of PVC, plastics, rubbers, and other materials. They are persistent chemicals, meaning they don’t degrade in the environment and accumulate in animals. Chlorinated paraffins have been detected in various wildlife and in human milk and blood. The 2017 Stockholm Convention listed SCCPs under their Annex A, which urges the elimination of the chemicals. SCCPs were largely prohibited in Canada in 2013 and in the US in 2012.

A study published today in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, shows that SCCPs are still widely present in household goods, indicating the need for more regulatory action. Researchers found SCCPs in 84 of 96 household goods tested in Canada. All the household goods were purchased at least one year after Canada’s prohibition of the chemical went into effect, suggesting that chemical regulation against SCCPs has not been entirely effective.

“We found [SCCPs] in almost everything, which was very surprising to us,” said Steven Kutarna, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and the lead author of the paper.