Help the Government of Canada organize its website!

Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now.

Volatile Organic Compound Emissions

In 2012, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions reached 1768 kilotonnes (kt), representing a 33 kt (2%) increase from 2011 emission levels. The recent increase in VOC emissions originates from industrial sources mainly in the oil and gas, and wood industry.

The level of VOC emissions in 2012 was 648 kt (27%) lower than in 1990. The long-term decline in VOC emissions is mainly attributable to three factors: a reduction in emissions from transportation and off-road vehicles, given the progressive introduction of cleaner technology and fuels for vehicles; a reduction in emissions from industrial sources such as petroleum refineries, the chemical industries and the wood industry; and a reduction in emissions from lower levels of VOC in products such as paints, solvents and cleaners.

Volatile organic compound emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2012

Volatile organic compound emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2012

Long Description

The line chart shows volatile organic compound emissions in Canada from 1990 to 2012. In 2012, volatile organic compound emissions reached 1768 kilotonnes, representing a 33 kilotonne or 2% increase from 2011 emission levels.

View data for this chart
How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (such as biogenics) and open sources (such as road dust) are not included. However, emissions from open sources related to waste (such as landfills) were included.
Source: Environment Canada (2014) 2012 Air Pollutant Emission Summaries and Historical Emission Trends.

Sources of volatile organic compound emissions

In 2012, the oil and gas industry emitted the highest proportion of VOC emissions, representing 34% (606 kt) of national emissions. Other important sources of VOC emissions included the use of paints and solvents, representing 18% (323 kt) of national emissions; and off-road vehicles, representing 14% (253 kt) of national emissions. The largest reduction in emissions between the years 1990 and 2012 occurred in transportation (road, rail, air and marine) with an emission reduction of 504 kt.

Volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2012

Volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2012

Long Description

The stacked area chart shows volatile organic compound emissions in Canada by source for the years 1990 to 2012. The emissions are expressed in kilotonnes. The largest reduction in emissions between the years 1990 and 2012 occurred in transportation (road, rail, air and marine) with an emission reduction of 504 kilotonnes.

View data for this chart
How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (such as biogenics) and open sources (such as road dust) are not included. However, emissions from open sources related to waste (such as landfills) were included. Other Sources include fuel for electricity and heating, and incineration and miscellaneous.
Source: Environment Canada (2014) 2012 Air Pollutant Emission Summaries and Historical Emission Trends.

Volatile organic compound emissions from facilities

Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides access to this information through an online interactive map.

With the CESI interactive map, you can drill down to local areas and obtain details on VOC emissions specific to reporting facilities.

Source: Environment Canada (2014) National Pollutant Release Inventory Online Data Search - Facility Reported Data.

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory

Environment Canada is currently revising, in collaboration with provincial/territorial counterparts, the breakdown of total emissions by province and territory to reflect methodological improvements. Consequently, air pollutant emissions by province and territory could not be included in the update of the indicator at this time.

Related indicators