Low concern polymers

Our Stage 2 work on low concern polymers

Low concern polymers are generally regarded as those having inherently low human health and environmental hazards. We are using our Inventory Multi-Tiered Assessment & Prioritisation (IMAP) framework to identify these polymers.

As part of IMAP Stage 2 we are continuing to carry out pre-prioritisation work. This involves screening and categorising about 6,000 previously unassessed polymers that are listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (the Inventory).

We are doing this pre-prioritisation to identify polymers that are of low concern and therefore low priority for assessment to:

  • human health
  • the environment or
  • both.

Once we have identified polymers of low human health and environmental concern, we can then prioritise higher risk polymers for more detailed assessment.

This approach builds on the screening methods we used in IMAP Stage 1.

In identifying polymers of low regulatory concern, we review recent international work on the regulation of polymers, and draw on expertise of scientists within the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE).

Identifying low concern polymers—a phased approach

Phase 1

In this phase we identify polymers meeting the polymer of low concern (PLC) criteria as used in IMAP Stage 1.

Polymers that meet criteria established by chemical regulatory agencies in several countries including Australia, Canada, and the United States, are also regarded as PLCs.

We determine all the monomers for each of the more than 6,000 polymers by using an automated collation process.

We then screen the monomers against the reactive functional groups (RFGs) considered as low concern in the revised PLC criteria set out in NICNAS Consultation Paper 5 (Attachment B - Polymer of low concern criteria).

PLCs identified as meeting Tier I criteria for human health and the environment have been published from IMAP Tranche 21 onwards.

Phase 2

Polymers that do not meet the PLC criteria may still be categorised as being of low regulatory concern and therefore considered a low priority for assessment.

In this phase we determine the hazard and exposure profiles of the polymers that do not meet the criteria used in Phase 1.

We use the IMAP risk matrix and the IMAP polymer assessment methodology to identify additional low concern polymers.

Publication of polymers that meet Tier I criteria for human health and the environment commenced from Tranche 22.

View the IMAP Stage 2 list of low concern polymers to human health and the environment [Excel 109 KB]

Go to IMAP Tier 1 human health assessments

Go to IMAP Tier 1 environmental assessments

Phase 3

The IMAP polymer assessment methodology sets out certain circumstances under which polymers are classified into hazard bands. Additional polymers may be considered to be of higher concern due to their specific degradation products.

For most unassessed polymers on the Inventory, we cannot work out from only their chemical name if their monomers/functional groups that are considered reactive/toxic are released/degraded from the polymer matrix.

In this phase, we identify groups of polymers associated with one or more very specific concerns. These groups are sometimes composed of large numbers of polymers.

We evaluate the specific concerns as abbreviated Tier II assessments and make recommendations to address these concerns.

If companies using/marketing the polymers in these groups submit enough information to satisfy us that the polymers do not meet the higher concerns conditions:

  • we consider these to be polymers of low concern and therefore low priority for further assessment.

Publication of polymers that are assessed at Tier II for human health started from Tranche 23.

View the IMAP Stage 2 list of polymers with abbreviated Tier II human health assessments [Excel 73 KB]

Our Stage 1 work on low concern polymers

In IMAP Stage 1 we developed an approach for identifying polymers with reactive functional groups (RFGs) consistent with our polymer of low concern (PLC) criteria.

We used the NICNAS New Chemicals Program PLC criteria, which are based on the presence of chemically or metabolically reactive or toxic functional groups within the polymer. The low concern category containing RFGs generally lack reactivity, or have low adverse reactivity, in a biological setting.

We examined polymers in Stage 1 to identify the presence of potential RFGs. We then screened the RFGs against RFGs considered to be of low concern.

We had this approach validated by independent Australian scientific experts.

Polymers identified in this way did not proceed to Tier II assessment, regardless of the level of exposure. This is because at Tier 1 we determined they are not expected to pose a concern to human health.

For the assessment of existing chemicals, we only have access to the chemical name listed on the Inventory. For this reason, an IMAP assessment against the PLC criteria used by our New Chemicals Program cannot be carried out for certain characteristics.

No chemical-specific data are available for existing polymers in respect of their:

  • Number Average Molecular Weight (NAMW) and low molecular weight (LMW) species; and
  • Functional Group Equivalent Weight (FGEW) for RFGs.

We considered the majority of polymers on the Inventory to meet the NAMW and LMW species criteria. There are certain exceptions to this assumption (see  IMAP polymer assessment methodology).

We do not consider the degradability criterion within the PLC criteria, which mostly applies to biologically derived polymers, relevant for human health considerations. This is because it relates mainly to environmental considerations which are separately assessed (refer to IMAP polymer assessment methodology).

Stage 1 chemicals – identifying PLCs to human health

We applied the above validated approaches when assessing the Stage 1 list of 3,000 chemicals.

We identified 43 polymers of low concern to human health at Stage 1.

PLCs identified at Stage 1

CAS Registry Number

Inventory chemical name

9002-86-2

Ethene, chloro-, homopolymer

9002-89-5

Ethenol, homopolymer

9003-04-7

2-Propenoic acid, homopolymer, sodium salt

9003-18-3

2-Propenenitrile, polymer with 1,3-butadiene

9003-20-7

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, homopolymer

9003-22-9

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, copolymer with chloroethene

9003-27-4

1-Propene, 2-methyl-, homopolymer

9003-28-5

1-Butene, homopolymer

9003-29-6

Butene, homopolymer

9003-53-6

Benzene, ethenyl-, homopolymer

9004-36-8

Cellulose, acetate butanoate

9004-70-0

Cellulose, nitrate

9005-84-9

Amylodextrin

9010-77-9

2-Propenoic acid, polymer with ethene

9016-00-6

Poly[oxy(dimethylsilylene)]

9032-42-2

Cellulose, 2-hydroxyethyl methyl ether

24937-78-8

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, copolymer with ethane

24937-78-8

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, copolymer with ethene

25085-02-3

2-Propenoic acid, sodium salt, polymer with 2-propenamide

25101-28-4

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with 1,3-butadiene, butyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

25213-24-5

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, polymer with ethenol

25322-99-0

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, butyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate and methyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate

25852-37-3

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate

26813-14-9

1,3-Pentadiene, polymer with 2-methyl-2-butene

27136-15-8

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

27965-85-1

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with 1,3-butadiene, ethenylbenzene and ethyl 2-propenoate

29497-08-3

2-Propenoic acid, butyl ester, polymer with 1,1-dimethylethyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

52624-57-4

Oxirane, methyl-, polymer with oxirane, ether with 2-ethyl-2-(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol (3:1)

58205-99-5

Oxirane, methyl-, polymer with oxirane, ether with 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol (4:1)

64754-90-1

Ethene, homopolymer, chlorinated

66071-86-1

Soybean oil, polymer with isophthalic acid and pentaerythritol

67762-94-1

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, methyl vinyl

68002-19-7

Urea, polymer with formaldehyde, butylated

68037-01-4

1-Decene, homopolymer, hydrogenated

68441-17-8

Ethene, homopolymer, oxidized

68442-33-1

1-Propene, homopolymer, chlorinated

68648-89-5

Benzene, ethenyl-, polymer with 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene, hydrogenated

68957-96-0

Cellulose, 2-hydroxyethyl ether, polymer with ethanedial

69430-47-3

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, reaction products with methyl hydrogen siloxanes and 1,1,3,3-tetramethyldisiloxane

70131-67-8

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, hydroxy terminated

70879-60-6

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, polymers with ethyl acrylate and polyethylene glycol monomethacrylate C16-18-alkyl ethers

70900-21-9

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl hydrogen terminated

103651-02-1

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, butyl ester, polymers with acrylonitrile, (butylated formaldehyde, melamine polymer), 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate, methyl methacrylate and styrene

118539-59-6

9-Octadecenoic acid, 12-hydroxy-, [R-(Z)]-, homopolymer, ester with .alpha.-2-naphthalenyl-.omega.-hydroxypoly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl)

9032-42-2

Cellulose, 2-hydroxyethyl methyl ether

24937-78-8

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, copolymer with ethene

25085-02-3

2-Propenoic acid, sodium salt, polymer with 2-propenamide

25101-28-4

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with 1,3-butadiene, butyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

25213-24-5

Acetic acid, ethenyl ester, polymer with ethenol

25322-99-0

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, butyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate and methyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate

25852-37-3

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate

26813-14-9

1,3-Pentadiene, polymer with 2-methyl-2-butene

27136-15-8

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with butyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

27965-85-1

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, methyl ester, polymer with 1,3-butadiene, ethenylbenzene and ethyl 2-propenoate

29497-08-3

2-Propenoic acid, butyl ester, polymer with 1,1-dimethylethyl 2-propenoate and ethenylbenzene

52624-57-4

Oxirane, methyl-, polymer with oxirane, ether with 2-ethyl-2-(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol (3:1)

58205-99-5

Oxirane, methyl-, polymer with oxirane, ether with 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol (4:1)

64754-90-1

Ethene, homopolymer, chlorinated

66071-86-1

Soybean oil, polymer with isophthalic acid and pentaerythritol

67762-94-1

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, methyl vinyl

68002-19-7

Urea, polymer with formaldehyde, butylated

68037-01-4

1-Decene, homopolymer, hydrogenated

68441-17-8

Ethene, homopolymer, oxidized

68442-33-1

1-Propene, homopolymer, chlorinated

68648-89-5

Benzene, ethenyl-, polymer with 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene, hydrogenated

68957-96-0

Cellulose, 2-hydroxyethyl ether, polymer with ethanedial

69430-47-3

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, reaction products with methyl hydrogen siloxanes and 1,1,3,3-tetramethyldisiloxane

70131-67-8

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl, hydroxy terminated

70879-60-6

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, polymers with ethyl acrylate and polyethylene glycol monomethacrylate C16-18-alkyl ethers

70900-21-9

Siloxanes and silicones, dimethyl hydrogen terminated

103651-02-1

2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, butyl ester, polymers with acrylonitrile, (butylated formaldehyde, melamine polymer), 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate, methyl methacrylate and styrene

118539-59-6

9-Octadecenoic acid, 12-hydroxy-, [R-(Z)]-, homopolymer, ester with .alpha.-2-naphthalenyl-.omega.-hydroxypoly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl)

Last update 2 July 2019