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Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Annual Report for April 2011 to March 2012

3 Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice (Part 3)

Part 3 of CEPA 1999 requires that the Minister of the Environment issue environmental quality objectives and guidelines, substance-release guidelines, and codes of practice. The Minister of Health is required to issue objectives, guidelines and codes of practice with respect to the elements of the environment that may affect the life and health of Canadians. Part 3 of CEPA 1999 also provides for research, information gathering, the creation of inventories and reporting.

3.1 Monitoring

In Canada, environmental quality monitoring is carried out through partnerships among provincial, territorial and federal governments, municipalities, universities, air and water associations, environmental groups, and volunteers.

In 2011–2012, a broad range of monitoring activities was undertaken in support of the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda and the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), as well as the Northern Contaminants Program, the Great Lakes Surveillance Program and other initiatives that focus on specific areas such as greenhouse gases, transboundary groundwater, and the environmental impacts of industrial effluents from activities such as mining and pulp and paper production.

In addition, work continued within several regional, national and global monitoring networks, including the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network, the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network, the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Network, and the Freshwater Inventory and Surveillance of Mercury Network.

In addition to data collection and reporting on a wide range of environmental issues, monitoring efforts in 2011–2012 also included upgrades to monitoring technologies and to data reporting and database infrastructure.

For more information about monitoring activities, visit the Monitoring pageof the CEPA Environmental Registry.

3.2 Research

Research conducted under CEPA 1999 focuses on pollution prevention and environmental contamination. The research is used to: evaluate the impact of toxic substances and other substances of concern on the environment and human health; determine the extent of ecological and human health exposure to contaminants; monitor changes to the environment over time; guide risk assessments; develop preventive and control measures by identifying pollution prevention and technology solutions; and provide specialized sampling and analytical techniques used in compliance promotion and enforcement.

A broad range of research was undertaken in 2011–2012, including: laboratory and field studies; development and testing of new models and methods; climate model enhancement; development of sampling methodology; development of analytical tools; development of Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for targeted air pollutants; and analytical tool updates using scientific and economic research.

Research activities covered a significant number of subjects across the spectrum of air, climate, water, wildlife, soil and human health, many of which were in support of the Integrated Oil Sands Monitoring Plan, the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda or the Chemicals Management Plan. Areas of investigation included: air quality in key regions; vehicle emissions and alternative fuels; atmospheric and aquatic fate of CMP priority chemicals; siloxanes; climate trends and variations; impacts of climate change; wastewater effluents; legacy and emerging contaminants; mercury; ambient air pollution; indoor air quality; nanomaterials; biotechnology microbes; and human, bird and wildlife exposure to various chemicals and pollutants.

For more information about research activities, visit the Research page of the CEPA Environmental Registry.

3.3 Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice

3.3.1 Environmental Quality Guidelines

Environmental quality guidelines specify recommendations in quantitative or qualitative terms to support and maintain particular uses of the environment. Table 1a lists the environmental quality guidelines that were published or being developed nationally through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) in 2011–2012. During the same period, Environment Canada developed federal environmental quality guidelines for various chemicals identified in the CMP (Table 1b). Where federal priorities align with those of the CCME (i.e., those of the various provincial and territorial jurisdictions), the federal environmental quality guidelines will be tabled with the CCME for consideration as national values.

Table 1a: Environmental quality guidelines from April 2011 to March 2012 - Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (federal, provincial and territorial)
Environmental CompartmentPublishedIn Progress
  • Chloride
  • Trichlorfon
  • Cadmium
  • Glyphosate
  • Manganese
  • Nitrate
  • Trichlorfon
  • Zinc
  • N-Hexane
  • Barium
  • Glycols
  • Methanol
  • Nickel
  • Zinc


Table 1b: Environmental quality guidelines from April 2011 to March 2012 - Chemicals Management Plan (federal)
Environmental CompartmentApprovedIn Progress
  • PBDEs
  • Cobalt
  • Hydrazine
  • Vanadium
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • Bisphenol A
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • HBCD
  • PFOS
  • Triclosan
  • PBDEs
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • PBDEs
  • Bisphenol A
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • HBCD
  • PFOS
  • HBCD
  • PFOS

Note:Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD); polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs); perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS); tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA).

3.3.2 Drinking Water Quality Guidelines

Health Canada works in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Qualityand their supporting documents. Priorities for developing guidelines are also established in consultation with the provinces and territories.

Health-based guideline values are developed for drinking water contaminants that are found or expected to be found in drinking water supplies across Canada at levels that could lead to adverse health effects.

Guidance documents are also developed under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Qualityto provide operational or management guidance related to specific drinking water-related issues (such as boil-water advisories) or to make risk assessment information available when a guideline is not deemed necessary (such as controlling corrosion in drinking-water distribution systems).

The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are used by all provinces and territories as a basis to establish their own regulatory requirements to ensure the quality of drinking water in their own jurisdictions.

Table 2 lists the documents that were completed or in progress in 2011–2012.

Table 2: Guideline documents for Canadian drinking water quality from April 2011 to March2012
Finalized – publication pendingIn Progress
  • Protozoa
  • Heterotrophic plate count
  • E. coli
  • Total coliforms
  • 1,2-dichloroethane
  • 2,4-dichlorophenoxylacetic acid
  • Ammonia
  • Chromium
  • Nitrate/nitrite
  • Selenium
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Lead
  • Bromate
  • Aluminum
  • Manganese
  • pH
  • Atrazine
  • Waterborne bacterial pathogens
  • Overarching document
  • Microcystins
  • Uranium
  • Turbidity
  • Toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes

3.3.3 Air Quality Guidelines

In 2011–2012, Health Canada published the following notices in the Canada Gazette, Part I:

3.4 State of the Environment Reporting

Environmental indicators provide a straightforward and transparent way to convey the state of Canada's environment. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) are a system of national environmental indicators used to inform citizens about current environmental status and trends and to provide policy makers and researchers with a baseline of comprehensive, unbiased and authoritative information about key environmental issues. CESIsystematically measures progress towards the goals and targets established through the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

The selection of environmental indicators is based on a number of key criteria. Indicators must be relevant to the government's policy direction. They must be useful and easily understood by decision makers and the public, built on consistent and solid methodology that is comparable over time and across geographies, and based on high-quality data expected to be maintained and updated for the foreseeable future.

The indicators are prepared by Environment Canada with the support of other federal departments, including Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as their relevant provincial and territorial counterparts. CESIpublishes extensive environmental baseline data from statistical surveys, environmental measurement networks and research that supports the government's environmental initiatives. The CESIwebsite presents national and regional results, along with the methodology that explains the indicator, and links to related socio-economic issues and information. It provides results and information for 32 environmental indicators, including greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, water quality and protected areas. Below are the 2011–2012 national results for a selection of the key CESIindicators:

  • Air quality: Nationally, average concentrations of ground-level ozone in the air increased by approximately 9% from 1990 to 2009. No trend in the average concentration of fine-particulate matter in the air was detected between 2000 and 2009.
  • GHG emissions: Canada's total GHG emissions in 2009 were 690 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This concentration represents a decrease from the 2008 level of 732 megatonnes.
  • Freshwater quality: Freshwater quality for the protection of aquatic life for the 2007 to 2009 period was rated as excellent or good at 71 sites (41%), fair at 67 sites (39%), marginal at 30 sites (17%) and poor at 5 sites (3%).
  • Protected areas: As of 2012, Canada had protected 9.8% of its land area and about 0.7% of its marine territory. Since 1990, the overall protected area in Canada has nearly doubled.

3.5 Gathering and Reporting of Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Information

3.5.1 National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is Canada's legislated, publicly accessible national inventory of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling. The NPRI includes information reported by industrial facilities that meet certain criteria. It also includes emission estimates for a number of key air pollutants from other sources such as motor vehicles, residential heating, forest fires and agriculture. Over 8000 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRIfor 2010 (see Figure 1).

The NPRI supports the identification and management of risks to the environment and human health, including the development of policies and regulations on toxic substances and air quality. Public access to the NPRI encourages industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases and improves public understanding about pollution and environmental performance in Canada.

Figure 1: Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI in 2010

Over 8000 NPRI Locations in Canada.

The following NPRI data were made publicly available in 2011–2012:

  • the 2010 NPRIfacility-reported data and summary report (published in March 2012); and
  • the 2010 national air pollutant emissions data and trends for all sources (published in February 2012).

Environment Canada continued a number of initiatives to improve the quality of NPRI data during 2011–2012. For example, the Department worked with industrial sectors and provincial governments to improve technical guidance information for facilities that report to the NPRI. The Department also published additional information to assist data users in how to use and interpret NPRI data.

3.5.2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program

Environment Canada requires reporting of GHG emissions from facilities (mostly large industrial operations) through its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP). The GHGRP is part of Environment Canada's ongoing effort to develop, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, a single, domestic, mandatory GHG reporting system, in order to meet the GHG reporting needs of all jurisdictions and to minimize the reporting burden for industry and government.

The main objectives of the GHGRP are to provide Canadians with information on GHG emissions, support the development of regulations, support provincial and territorial requirements for GHG emissions information, and validate estimates presented in the National GHG Inventory. The data are reported through a single reporting system, by facilities, to Environment Canada.

For 2010, 537 facilities reported to the GHGRP. The 2010 facility-reported data and related overview report were prepared for public release as part of a broader departmental consolidated release of GHG information products to occur in April 2012. The consolidated release, which also includes the National GHGInventory and updated CESIGHG indicators, provides Canadians with a coherent picture of emission levels across the country. The facility-reported data is available through data tables, an online query tool and a downloadable file.

3.5.3 Single Window Reporting Initiative

In 2011, the Single Window Reporting Initiative, an initiative managed by Environment Canada in collaboration with various partners, launched its expanded single, harmonized online system for regulatory reporting of air emissions and pollutant releases. The system reduces burden on industry and improves compliance with Canadian environmental regulations. It also supports the shared interest across jurisdictions of tracking and reporting progress on the reduction of GHG emissions and pollutant releases. Environment Canada's NPRI (see section 3.5.1) and GHGRP (see section 3.5.2), as well as the CMP and other activities related to CEPA 1999 provisions, are using the Single Window Reporting System for their environmental data collection efforts. This initiative will continue to expand as additional partners integrate their GHG and pollutants reporting requirements into the Single Window Reporting System.

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