Emission of Toxic Substances to Air

Toxic substances in the air can increase the risk of harmful effects on human health, wildlife and biological diversity. For instance, toxic metals and organic pollutants can be inhaled or deposited onto the soil and into water, where they can enter the food chain and accumulate in body tissues of living organisms. Some of these substances can also be transported over great distances through the air.

The following Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) track the emission of two toxic substances, mercury and hexavalent chromium, to the air. Both of these substances are listed as toxicFootnote [1]under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999(CEPA1999) and therefore their release to the environment is closely monitored. The data used to calculate these indicators are taken from the Air Pollutant Emission Summaries and Trends and the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), Canada's legislated, publicly accessible inventory of pollutant releases.

National and regional emissions of these substances are provided, with emissions broken down by source. A comparison of Canadian mercury emissions to those of other countries is also presented.

Emission of toxic substances to air by substance

Theme III: Protecting Nature of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
This indicator is used to measure progress toward Target 4.8: Chemicals Management – Reduce risks to Canadians and impacts on the environment and human health posed by releases of harmful substances of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016.


Footnote 1

Section 64 of CEPA 1999 defines a substance as toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that a) have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity, b) constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, or c) constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Return to footnote 1 referrer