National Pollutant Release Inventory Alternate Threshold Proposal for Acrylonitrile

Environment Canada (EC) proposed to lower the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) reporting threshold for acrylonitrile (also known as 2-propenenitrile)commencing with the 2014 reporting year to capture additional significant sources of this pollutant. Consultations on this issue were conducted with the NPRI Multi-Stakeholder Work Group (WG) in February through April of 2013. After considering the comments received, Environment Canada has decided to proceed with the change, and it is reflected in the 2014-2015 NPRI Canada Gazette notice.

A) Proposal (February 2013)

B) Summary of Stakeholder Comments and Environment Canada’s Response (July 2014)

A) Proposal (February 2013)

1. Background

Acrylonitrile (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN) 107-13-1), was part of the original NPRI substance list, which was established for the 1993 reporting year. The initial NPRI substance list was derived from the 1990 U.S. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) with certain amendments, such as the removal of substances that are prohibited for use in Canada, used in quantities smaller than one tonne per year or are monitored under other legislation such as pesticides under the Pest Control Products Act.

Acrylonitrile is currently listed as a Part 1A substance on the NPRI substance list. The reporting threshold for this substance is 10 tonnes manufactured, processed or otherwise used (MPO) per reporting year at a concentration equal to or greater than 1% by weight (except for by-products and tailings for which there is no concentration threshold). In general, facilities would also need to meet the employee threshold of 20,000 or greater employee hours (approximately 10 full-time employees) or undertake certain specified activities (such as incineration or wastewater treatment) to be required to report for Part 1A substances.

Acrylonitrile is also included on the Domestic Substance List (DSL) where it is listed as 2-propenenitrile. The DSL is a list of substances that, between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1986 were in Canadian commerce used for manufacturing purposes; or manufactured in or imported into Canada in a quantity of 100 kilograms or more in any calendar year. This list originally contained approximately 23 000 substances and has been amended regularly to include additional substances that have been deemed eligible following their assessment under the New Substances Notification Regulations. As a result, it currently contains more than 25,000 substances.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999(CEPA 1999) requires the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health to prepare and publish a Priority Substances List (PSL) that identifies substances including chemicals, groups of chemicals, effluents and wastes that may be harmful to the environment or constitute a danger to human health. The Act also requires both Ministers to assess these substances to determine whether these substances present or may present a risk to the environment or human health.

Under CEPA 1999, Priority Substance Assessments focus on information critical to determining whether a substance meets the criteria for defining a chemical as toxic as set out in section 64 CEPA 1999, where:

"64. [...] a substance is 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."

An environmental and human health assessment was conducted for acrylonitrile to determine if it met the criteria of section 64 of CEPA 1999. Acrylonitrile's PSL Assessment Report which was published in May 2000 and concluded that acrylonitrile is entering the environment in a quantity or concentration under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health because of its potential to cause cancer. Acrylonitrile was not found to be harmful to the environment or its biological diversity. As a result, acrylonitrile was found to meet the criterion in paragraph 64(c) of CEPA 1999 and was added to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) of CEPA 1999 on May 9, 2001.

The assessment report recommended that options be investigated to reduce exposure in air to the Canadian general population in the vicinity of industrial point sources. Acrylonitrile is not produced in Canada but is imported and was used in the past by the chemical industry to produce synthetic rubbers and polymers. However, it is now currently used as a monomer/reactant in applications such as the production of styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) foam and polymers, acrylic emulsions and diamines. There are no known natural sources of acrylonitrile.

To ensure sound environmental management of acrylonitrile releases, Environment Canada published a Risk Management Strategy for acrylonitrile in May 2002. The objective was to reduce acrylonitrile releases from major industrial sources by applying the best available techniques economically achievable (BATEA) by December 31, 2005. The proposed risk management instrument was a Pollution Prevention (P2) Planning Notice targeted at one company which accounted for the majority of the releases in Canada at that time. This P2 Planning Notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on May 24, 2003 and required owners or operators of facilities involved in the manufacture of synthetic rubber that used acrylonitrile and resulted in releases of acrylonitrile to the environment to prepare and implement pollution prevention plans. Also, the Minister of Environment published the Environmental Emergency Regulations, on September 10, 2003, which required anyone storing or using acrylonitrile, in addition to other substances, above a threshold quantity of 9.1 tonnes and at a concentration equal or greater than 10% to prepare an environmental emergency plan.

Since 2008, the largest emitter at the time of the publication of the PSL assessment report for acrylonitrile and P2 planning notice no longer uses nor releases acrylonitrile. Towards the end of the effective P2 planning notice in 2005, NPRI data was used to monitor releases of acrylonitrile. The NPRI data revealed that a facility in a different industry sector (the plastics industry) was now the largest emitter of acrylonitrile in Canada. Environment Canada and Health Canada began working with various agencies in Quebec, including the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs(MDDEP), and industry to characterize an increase in acrylonitrile emission reporting to the NPRI to determine if further risk management measures would be warranted. At that time, the largest emitter of acrylonitrile requested a permit for expansion of facility operations from the MDDEP. The MDDEP issued the permit with the condition that the facility prepare and implement an acrylonitrile emission reduction plan as this expansion would further increase industrial releases of acrylonitrile.

The federal and provincial government actions had resulted in significant emission reductions when in December 2008, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons tabled a report to Parliament recommending that Environment Canada review and update its risk management strategy (RMS) for acrylonitrile to take into account significant new sources of the substance. Environment Canada responded by updating the RMS for acrylonitrile in October, 2010. The RMS states that acrylonitrile releases will continue to be monitored through reviewing NPRI data and consideration will be given to lowering the NPRI reporting threshold to facilitate a more comprehensive review of industry sources. It also stated that acrylonitrile would also be considered for inclusion in the upcoming update for substances on the DSL. Acrylonitrile has now been added to the DSL inventory update along with a number of other substances. A section 71 Notice requiring reporting of quantity manufactured and imported was published in December 2012 and data collection will be completed in September, 2013.

Please refer to the following links for more information on Canada's actions on the management of chemicals as well as the the Priority Substance List (PSL) Assessment Reportand the Update to the Risk Management Strategy for Acrylonitrile:

2. Proposed Alternative Reporting Treshold for Acrylonitrile

Acrylonitrile met the criteria outlined in paragraph 64(c) of CEPA 1999, and is listed on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 (i.e. Toxic Substance List). It is proposed that the NPRI reporting threshold for Acrylonitrile be lowered in order to capture the relevant data regarding this substance which is a potential non-threshold toxicant where there is some probability of harm to human health at any level of exposure. This will also allow for the identification of new sources of acrylonitrile and thus a more comprehensive review of industry sources.

The proposed change would lower the mass threshold for acrylonitrile, without changing the concentration and employee thresholds. Under the reduced threshold, any person who owns or operates a contiguous facility or offshore installation would be required to submit an NPRI report for acrylonitrile if both of the following criteria are met:

  1. employees work a total of ≥ 20,000 hours, or activities to which the employee threshold does not apply (e.g., incineration or wastewater treatment) take place at the facility, and
  2. the total amount of the substance
    • manufactured, processed or otherwise used at a concentration (by weight) of 1% or more, plus
    • incidentally manufactured, processed or otherwise used as a by-product at any concentration,plus
    • contained in tailings disposed of during the calendar year at any concentration, plus
    • contained in waste rock disposed of during the calendar year that is not clean or inert at any concentration is ≥ 1 tonne (lowered from ≥ 10 tonnes)

3. Justification for Proposal

For the 2010 NPRI Reporting Year, seven facilities reported releases of acrylonitrile. The majority of releases, disposals and transfers were from the urethane and foam products manufacturing sector. Please refer to the table below which shows NPRI releases, disposals and transfers reported for acrylonitrile for the 2010 reporting year by industrial sector.

NPRI releases, disposals and transfers reported for acrylonitrile for the 2010 reporting year.
NAICSFootnote 1 6 CodeNAICS 6 Sector NameAir Emissions (tonnes)Land Releases (tonnes)Off-Site Disposals (tonnes)Transfers for Treatment (tonnes)
326140Polystyrene Foam Product Manufacturing0.0068000
325510Paint & Coating Manufacturing0.7891000.116
325999All Other Misc. Chemical Product Manufacturing0000
321999All Other Misc. Wood Product Manufacturing0.0001000
326150Urethane & Miscellaneous Foam Product Manufacturing3.56820.00453.0330.504
326290Other Rubber Product Manufacturing00.001900
315990Clothing Accessories & Other Clothing Manufacturing0000
Total 4.36420.00643.0330.62

The National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) monitoring data from 2005 to 2009 revealed that acrylonitrile was found in ambient air near a sampling site in British Columbia (BC) at an average concentration comparable to the ambient air concentration within proximity of the facility that is the largest emitter of acrylonitrile following the implementation of the (BATEA) in order to reduce acrylonitrile releases. There are a number of potential industrial facilities from the Veneer, Plywood and Engineered Wood Products Manufacturing sector that are located in the closest proximity to the sampling points in BC where acrylonitrile concentrations were found to be the highest. These data suggests that the current NPRI reporting threshold for acrylonitrile might be too high as no facilities from BC have reported to the NPRI for acrylonitrile since 2005.

It is recommended that the alternate threshold for acrylonitrile be introduced starting with the 2014 NPRI reporting year. This will ensure that data from industrial sources on this toxic substance listed on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 are adequately captured and made available to the public. It will also allow the Government of Canada to identify and evaluate a broader range of sources or increased releases from existing sources of acrylonitrile in the future to determine if further risk management is required. In response to this reporting change, facilities would be required to take reasonable steps to gather the required information in order to report to the NPRI for acrylonitrile. Under section 46 of CEPA 1999, an owner or operator of an industrial facility is required to report to the NPRI information in his/her possession or to which that person may reasonably be expected to have access. The NPRI recognizes that acrylonitrile emission factors for the Veneer, Plywood and Engineered Wood Products Manufacturing sector industrial sector may not currently exist. However, required data may be ascertained through other methods; engineering estimates, continuous emission monitoring systems, source testing or mass balance.

While improving the data available to the public by filling potential gaps in the inventory for a substance listed on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, lowering the Acrylonitrile reporting threshold will also support Chemicals Management Plan risk management activities. The updated RMS states that acrylonitrile releases will continue to be monitored through reviewing NPRI data. The NPRI data reporting strives to better align with other departmental programs, filling the data needs of other programs where possible to avoid the creation of new ongoing reporting obligations outside NPRI. This is to minimize the reporting burden on industry, while maximising the data made available to the public.

B) Summary of Stakeholder Comments and Environment Canada's Response (July 2014)

The NPRI Multi-Stakeholder WG provided input on Environment Canada’s proposal to lower the reporting threshold for acrylonitrile. After considering stakeholder input, EC has changed the reporting threshold for acrylonitrile commencing with the 2014 NPRI reporting year.

The mass threshold has been lowered from 10 tonnes to 1 000 kg (1 tonne) manufactured, processed or otherwise used (MPO). Although not initially proposed, the concentration threshold has been lowered from 1% to 0.1% to align with Material Safety Data Sheet ingredient disclosure requirements. As a result of this reduced reporting threshold, acrylonitrile is listed as a Part 1B substance instead of a Part 1A substance.

The table below summarizes comments received from the Multi-Stakeholder WG and provides EC’s responses.

Comments were received from the following stakeholders:

  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Chemistry Industry Association of Canada and Canadian Fuels Association (joint comment)
  • Great Lakes United
  • Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association
  • Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
  • International Institute of Concern for Public Heath
  • Community Health Opposition to Known Emissions Dangers
Summary of Stakeholder Comments and Environment Canada's Response
No./TopicStakeholder CommentEnvironment Canada’s Response
1. SupportReconsidering the reporting threshold for acrylonitrile is warranted as it is listed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) (the List of Toxic Substances). Support for the change proposed by Environment Canada is acknowledged. No response is required.
2. Reporting Instrument

This proposal appears to be speculative regarding sources of acrylonitrile releases and does not provide a sufficient rationale behind changing the reporting threshold from 10 tonnes to 1 000 kg.

The intent of this proposal appears to be to gather pollutant data for exploratory purposes as well as to regulate the reduction of releases. However, Governments have other processes than the NPRI to obtain such data.

Acrylonitrile is listed on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 and is a potential non-threshold toxicant, i.e., there is probability of harm to human health at any level of exposure. The National Air Pollution Surveillance program detected high levels of acrylonitrile in ambient air samples near facilities that are not reporting to the NPRI, possibly due to the current reporting threshold. EC considers it important to adequately monitor and risk manage this substance of concern. The reduced threshold is expected to capture additional data on this substance.

Because acrylonitrile is already reported to the NPRI, it will be more efficient and effective to lower the reporting threshold using this existing data collection instrument. Through this approach, more comprehensive data will be available in the NPRI, for use by the public and to support risk management activities for acrylonitrile.

3. Recommend to PostponeIt is recommended to postpone consultations on this proposed change following the receipt of substance data collected through the Domestic Substance List Inventory Update 2 (DSL IU2). Analyses of these data should provide insight into what degree the reporting threshold should lowered, as well as impacts on national coverage of industrial releases.

Preliminary DSL IU2 data support the conclusion that this substance is being imported in large quantities and is being distributed to end users. However, the data do not provide information on end users’ quantities and types of applications. A reduced reporting threshold is expected to offer data on acrylonitrile releases and associated end users (i.e., facilities) that are not currently reporting to the NPRI.

Since only acrylonitrile importers and manufactures were required to report to the DSL IU2, there were not sufficient data to estimate impacts on national coverage of industrial substance releases at different reporting thresholds. However, given the rationale in response #2 above, EC has decided to proceed with the change for 2014.

4. Air EmissionsIf EC is most concerned with air emissions of this substance, EC could consider adding acrylonitrile to the list of Part 5 volatile organic substances (VOC) as an alternative proposal to changing the reporting threshold.Part 5 reporting is intended to support air quality modeling which is not the sole purpose of this proposal.  EC is interested in all forms of acrylonitrile releases: air, water and land. Therefore, adding acrylonitrile to the Part 5 list of VOCs as an alternative proposal would not meet the desired objectives of the change.
5. Other ActionsThe proposal cited high levels of acrylonitrile in ambient air samples at a site in British Columbia to support an alternate threshold. However, further exploratory action such as enforcement and compliance initiatives should be executed prior to proposing an alternate threshold.Preliminary DSL IU2 data and NAPS data offer information to support NPRI compliance promotion activities for acrylonitrile. However, a reduced reporting threshold is still required to identify other sources of releases of acrylonitrile, which is a potential non-threshold toxicant and for which there is probability of harm to human health at any level of exposure.
6. NPRI Alternate Thresholds

NPRI alternate threshold proposals should contain the following:

·         Numerical evidence demonstrating a reporting gap and that implementation of the proposed alternate quantity and concentration thresholds will have a substantial impact on that gap.

·         Confirmation that the proposed threshold is not so low as to impose an unintended burden on facilities reporting trace quantities.

This proposal should provide an estimate of the impact on the portion of industrial releases that would be reported as a result of the reporting threshold change.

EC agrees that NPRI alternate threshold proposals should include, where available, numerical evidence demonstrating a reporting gap, an analysis of the potential reporting burden on facilities and an estimate of the impact on the portion of industrial releases that would be reported as a result of the reporting threshold change. However, data is not currently available to address such questions. Using the NPRI, an existing reporting instrument, to collect addition data on acrylonitrile will permit for these types of analyses.

It is important for the NPRI to proceed with this change to make more comprehensive data available through the NPRI, and to meet data user needs. The updated Acrylonitrile Risk Management Strategy cites a commitment to the Office of the Auditor General to consider adjusting the NPRI acrylonitrile reporting threshold to help determine if additional risk management is needed. 

7. TimingThe tentative publication of March 2014 for the 2014-2015 NPRI Canada Gazette Notice is too late. NPRI notices for a given year should be published by December preceding the reporting year to allow facilities sufficient time to gather data.EC recognizes that the publication of Canada Gazette notices for the NPRI should occur as early as possible. However, under CEPA 1999, NPRI reporting is based on information in the possession of the facility or that can be reasonably accessed. If a facility genuinely has little or no information on this substance, they would be required to report only the information that they do have for 2014, and should take reasonable steps to gather the full required information for future years. In addition, acrylonitrile was listed on the NPRI in previous years, meaning that some facilities will already have information on this substance.



Footnotes

Footnote 1

NAICS Code: North American Industry Classification System.

Return to footnote1

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