Volatile Organic Compound Emissions

In 2011, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions decreased to 1741 kilotonnes (kt), representing a 73 kt (4%) decrease from 2010 emission levels. The recent decrease in VOC emissions originates mainly in the oil and gas industry and transportation.

The level of VOC emissions in 2011 was 721 kt (29%) lower than in 1990. The decline in VOC emissions is mainly attributable to three factors: a reduction in emissions from transportation, 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 2011

Volatile organic compound emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Sources of volatile organic compound emissions

Among sources, the oil and gas industry emitted the highest proportion of VOC, representing 31% (538 kt) of national emissions. Other important sources of VOC emissions included the use of paints and solvents, representing 19% (331 kt) of national emissions; and off-road vehicles, representing 15% (260 kt) of national emissions.

Volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 2011

Volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory

Alberta emitted the highest proportion of VOC in 2011, representing 27% (473 kt) of national emissions (national emissions = 1741 kt). The main sources of VOC in this province were in the oil and gas industry. Ontario was responsible for 23% (403 kt) of national emissions, with transportation and general solvent use as the most important sources. Quebec was third, with 17% (302 kt) of national emissions, where transportation, home firewood burning and general solvent use accounted for almost 75% of the emissions in the province.

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2011

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2011

View data for this chart
How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
Source: Environment Canada (2012) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Volatile organic compound emissions from industrial facilities

Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial 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 industrial facilities.

Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Facility Reported Data.

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