Workers in Many Sectors
What are Designated Substances in Ontario?

Written by: Lisa Hallsworth

Published on: 8 March 2017

In Ontario, the Designated Substances (DS) are defined in Table 1 of Ontario Regulation 490/09. O. Reg. 490/09 consolidates eleven of the twelve stand-alone regulations for designated substances being used, handled or stored in Ontario and it came into effect on July 1st, 2010. The only regulation that was not consolidated was O. Reg. 278/05 – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations.

What Chemicals are Covered under O. Reg. 490/09?

Designated substances are known to result in health problems (cancer, severe allergic reactions, genetic defects, organ disease), if handled improperly, and have been clearly identified under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure their use is strictly controlled.  Table 1 contains the following 11 substances: Acrylonitrile, Arsenic, Asbestos, Benzene, Coke Oven Emissions, Ethylene Oxide, Isocyanates, Lead, Mercury, Silica and Vinyl Chloride.

How do I Know if O. Reg. 490/09 Applies to Me?

If you use, handle or store any of the 11 designated substances or if ingredients of chemicals that you use, handle or store are in Table 1, then O. Reg. 490/09 applies to you.

How do I Know if Products Contain Designated Substances?

Your WHMIS SDS is the best resource to determine if a chemical contains designated substances.  Section 3 of the SDS under WHMIS 2015 or Section 2 or 3 of the SDS under WHMIS 1988 list all chemical ingredients by name, Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number and percentage composition. You must compare the ingredient CAS #s to those in Table 1 of O. Reg. 490/09. For example, many commonly used adhesives and spray foams contain large percentages of the Isocyanates, listed in Table 1. The 8 hour time-weighted exposure limit is exceedingly low – 0.005 ppm and the ceiling exposure limit can be as low as 0.015 ppm, meaning that in a 10 ft by 10 ft by 8 ft room, a worker would be above the ceiling exposure with a tenth of a teaspoon of vapour dispersed in the room! These products must be used with great care in the workplace or in any other location with limited ventilation.

I Handle, Use or Store Designated Substances. Now What?

If you have designated substance ingredients, you must assess the likelihood of employee exposure to the designated substance and record this in writing (O. Reg. 490/09, s.19 (1)).   The assessment is best done by a qualified industrial hygienist and depending on the results of this assessment, further actions may be required to properly comply with the regulation.  A qualified safety professional can help you understand the requirements.

Contact Rillea Technologies at [email protected] if you require further information or help identifying your chemicals that contain designated substance ingredients and the need for further action.

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SDS RiskAssist is brought to you by award-winning Rillea Technologies, an Ontario-based company that uses the power of technology to give employers control and understanding over the otherwise pervasive and worrisome use of chemicals. SDS RiskAssist ensures workers know why chemicals are being used, what their benefits and hazards are and how to use them safely! RilleaTech’s 10-step chemical management process guides employer action to mitigate their risk and ensure workers have the right knowledge to prevent harm. Workers can access this knowledge via mobile or desktop devices as often as needed, from anywhere in the world. SDS RiskAssist is the winner of 2018 and 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine; the 2019 Innovation Guelph Startup of the Year Award; the 2019 Quinte Business Achievement Award (Trailblazer category) and The Ottawa Network’s 2020 Bootstrap Award (SaaS category). Rillea Technologies supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, working with our clients to take action for a sustainable planet.


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