This page has been archived on the Web
Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.
ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 1999 to March 2000
- Section 1: Overview of CEPA Implementation, 1999-2000
- Section 2: Part-by-Part Report on CEPA Implementation, 1999-2000
- Part I: Environmental Quality Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice
- Part II: Toxic Substances
- Part III: Nutrients
- Part IV: Federal Departments, Agencies, Crown Corporations, Works, Undertakings and Lands
- Part V: International Air Pollution
- Part VI: Ocean Dumping
- Part VII: General
- Section 3: CEPA-Related Activities
- Section 4: CEPA-Related Information
- Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data
Part I: Environmental Quality Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice
- Part I: Environmental Quality Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice (CEPA Sections 7-10)
Part I authorizes the Minister to undertake scientific research relating to environmental pollution and to set objectives, guidelines and codes of practice relating to the quality of the environment.
Through scientific research and development, we can evaluate the impact of toxics, including substances developed through biotechnology, on the environment and human health, determine minimal-risk exposure levels to contaminants, monitor changes to the environment over time and develop solutions to problems. Scientists look for ways to minimize the risk associated with exposure to contaminants. Without this knowledge, we would not know when to set limits on the use of a substance, what limits to set, how to prevent or clean up problems, or how to replace the substance with another that has fewer, and preferably no, damaging qualities.
A wide range of scientific work supports the implementation of CEPA. This work falls into four broad categories:
- research and development,
- testing, and
Monitoring changes in the environment and in relevant human indicators is essential for assessing the impact of toxics and the effectiveness of measures meant to minimize environmental damage and real and potential threats to human life. While resources for large-scale, national monitoring programs have declined during the last 10 years, monitoring remains an important component of the scientific work supporting the implementation of CEPA. During 1999-2000, ongoing environmental monitoring continued through the following main efforts:
- National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Network -- This joint federal-provincial program, established in 1969, monitors the quality of ambient air in Canadian urban centres. There are over 239 monitoring stations in 136 municipalities throughout the country. In 1999-2000, monitoring focused on the "criteria pollutants": sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and total suspended particulates. Data were also collected on other pollutants, including particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 microns (PM-10), particulate sulphate, particulate nitrate and over 100 organic compounds. The NAPS annual data reports for 1997 and 1998 were published on the Internet as downloadable files; both reports are also available in hard copy.
- Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) -- Environment Canada is the coordinating partner in a national network of more than 140 agencies conducting long-term, multidisciplinary environmental assessment work. The network compiles material from over 100 sites across the country. The annual Network National Science Meeting, held in Victoria in January 1999, brought together over 400 participants from across Canada to discuss research findings and to explore new directions for cooperation and partnership in ecological and monitoring activities. The network's Web site promotes monitoring activities and provides tools for training, observation reporting and data management. It is one of the most popular Environment Canada sites.
- Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) -- The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) continued its internationally recognized research program on the distribution, fate and effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Canada and the circumpolar Arctic. Researchers have collected data on pesticides in Russian rivers; on contaminants in the Arctic Ocean from Russian rivers; on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides in Greenland walrus; and on circumpolar trends of POPs identified by studying ringed seals. One finding is that there are higher levels of PCBs in the Russian Arctic and of hexachlorocyclohexane in the Canadian Arctic.
- Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN) -- This joint Canada-United States program was established under Annex 15 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and has been in operation since 1990. It monitors the wet and dry deposition into the Great Lakes Basin of various priority toxic substances (for example, PCBs, lead, benzo(a)pyrene, hexachlorocyclohexane and other organochlorine compounds). The data are used to determine the atmospheric loadings and trends (spatial and temporal) of these substances. The IADN also estimates gas exchange of some of these substances with the lake surfaces, and attempts to identify the sources of the continuing input of these chemicals.
- The NWRI has established a new long-term program to monitor trends in predatory fish in Great Slave Lake. The program will focus on POPs but will include mercury, arsenic and selenium. Studies are also assessing POPs trends in other freshwater systems in the high Arctic. As well, lake sediment cores are being collected in the Canadian Arctic to learn more about the sources, long-range transport and impact of new and old organic pollutants. Environment Canada's Pacific and Yukon Region is assessing atmospheric sources of POPs in the fish of lakes and reservoirs in the Georgia Basin.
- Pacific and Yukon Region completed the report Water Quality Trends in British Columbia Waterbodies. This report, prepared in partnership with the Province of British Columbia, summarizes the trends and status of water quality in 68 water bodies in the province. Variables monitored since 1985 include metals, nutrients and bacteriological indicators. The majority of sites had no observed changes or showed improving water trends. However, 10% of the surface water sites and 20% of the groundwater sites exhibited deteriorating trends. In addition, some sites with no changes displayed conditions that did not meet established water quality objectives or guidelines. Monitoring at many of the sites will continue and will be conducted largely under the auspices of a federal-provincial water quality monitoring agreement.
State of the Environment Reporting
There are four principal components to the federal government's "New Vision for Reporting on the State of the Environment":
- environmental indicators,
- State of the Environment (SOE) reports based on science assessments,
- ecological monitoring, and
- Canada's State of the Environment Infobase on the Green Lane, which provides public access to a variety of information.
Researchers from Environment Canada are working with other experts in Canada and around the world to learn more about the presence and extent of contaminants in Arctic ecosystems. The research, under the AMAP, has focused on the scientific assessment of POPs in the circumpolar Arctic. Scientists involved in this northern contaminant research not only publish their work in scientific journals but also bring the information back to the North to share it with the people who are directly affected by these substances in their environment. During a tour of the eastern Arctic, organized by Indian and Northern Affairs and Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, scientists presented results from their work on POPs and metals in marine mammals and birds. The meetings provided information on wildlife health, on the benefits of eating local wild foods and on methods to minimize exposure to substances.
- Environment Canada continues to produce environmental indicators in the National Environmental Indicator Series. During 1999-2000, the following environmental indicator bulletins were released: Urban Air Quality; Stratospheric Ozone Depletion; Acid Rain; and Sustaining Canada's Forests: Timber Harvesting. Work continued on developing new national indicators on the environmental sustainability of Canada's agricultural soils.
The National Environmental Indicator Series is available in hard copy and electronically on the State of Canada's Environment InfoBase Web site.
Environment Canada's Pacific and Yukon Region posted five new regional indicators on its Web site during 1999-2000. These included indicators on Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, Pesticide Poisonings in Raptors, Toxins in Great Blue Heron Eggs, and Nitrate Levels in the Abbotsford Aquifer. Five existing regional indicators were updated with new information. The regional indicator Web site now reports on 14 indicators, and work is continuing on developing new indicators on smog, seabirds, climate change and water use.
- Two State of the Environment (SOE) reports were published this year. The reports carry the new symbol for SOE reports to indicate that they meet the federal SOE reporting guidelines. Forest Health in Canada: An Overview, produced by Natural Resources Canada, was released in December 1999. The report is available free from the Atlantic Forestry Centre, Canadian Forestry Service, 506-452-3500. The Health of Our Water: Toward Sustainable Agriculture in Canada was produced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in March 2000 and is available electronically.
In addition, The State of the Great Lakes 1999 was released by Environment Canada's Ontario Region and the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1999.
- The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) is part of the "New Vision" for SOE reporting. Scientists and others have identified core variables that will provide an early warning of changes to ecosystem health. The goal is to have all EMAN partners across the country monitor these variables at the representative environmental monitoring sites they operate. To this end, two reports were produced: A Comparison between the EMAN Core Monitoring Variables and Monitoring Activities at EMAN Sites and EMAN Core Monitoring Variables Field Methods Manual: A First Approximation. An environmental monitoring survey was launched to help identify which other Environment Canada programs currently monitor these core variables.
This symbol means that a document meets federal guidelines for State of the Environment reporting. Around the map of Canada, the words read "Contributes to reporting on the state of Canada's environment/ Contribue aux rapports sur l'état de l'environnement au Canada."
Environment Canada redesigned its State of Canada's Environment Infobase Web site on the Green Lane, which has been online for four years, to improve access to environmental and ecological information and reports. The public can now access SOE related information using different filters -- national and regional. Principal information categories include the National Environmental Indicator Series; SOE reports; ecosystem status and trends; advisories on the most recent results of ecosystem monitoring and research; early warning advisories, which will include information on emerging trends in Canada's ecosystems; and tools, including the National Ecological Framework. This framework provides a consistent, national context within which ecosystems can be described and monitored. Links connect to other Internet sites, such as ones put up by EMAN and Environment Canada's Pacific and Yukon Region, and ones offering information about SOE reporting and about programs managed by one of the five natural resources departments (5NR) with an interest in science and technology related to sustainable development.
An interactive software package on sustainability community indicators helps communities to develop indicators to assess and monitor their progress toward sustainable development. It also facilitates the exchange of indicator-related information.
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) oversaw the development of a national water quality index to standardize and simplify reporting on water quality trends across Canada. This index, modified from one used in British Columbia, was tested by Alberta, Ontario and several other provincial jurisdictions. The Environmental Quality Branch (Environment Canada) will be investigating the national application of the index as a state of the environment reporting tool over the next few years.
Research and Development
It is impossible to describe all the CEPA-related research and development work that was completed or begun in the period covered by this annual report. The following section categorizes the types of research and development work undertaken and provides examples of some important projects and their results.
In general, scientific research and development related to CEPA can be grouped into four categories:
- Classification of substances: Is it toxic? In what situations? At what levels?
- Detection of substances: Is it present? At what concentration?
- Development of cost-efficient tests for substances: Is this test accurate and reliable?
- Reduction in the use, release or presence of toxic substances: Does this measure work?
The Index: Tracking Water Quality in Canada
The national water quality index is a tool to translate complex technical water quality information into a simple description of the state of water quality. The index divides water quality into categories -- excellent, good, fair, poor -- and describes its suitability for various uses -- drinking water, recreation, irrigation, aquatic life, livestock watering. The index incorporates the CCME Water Quality Guidelines, which note the level of a substance that, according to scientific studies, would make a particular water use unacceptable. The index takes the wealth of technical information currently available and makes it accessible to the public and to managers of water resources by providing a report card on the quality of water in individual bodies of water throughout Canada.
Classification of Substances
One of the main activities under CEPA is the identification and categorization of some widely dispersed substances as toxic to the environment or human life. Solid scientific research is essential to the ongoing process of identifying and classifying toxic substances. This work leads to the development of guidelines, objectives and codes of practice for the acceptable use and disposal of substances and, when necessary, to the creation of policies or regulations to control their use and disposal. Following are some examples of 1999-2000 research relating to the classification of substances:
- Endocrine-disrupting substances (EDS) interact with the hormone-producing systems of many species, resulting in adverse effects on growth, development or reproduction. During 1999-2000, Health Canada and Environment Canada scientists made a significant contribution to the development of a science strategy to assess the impact of EDS on humans and ecosystems. There are about 50 research studies on EDS being conducted or supported by the Wastewater Technology Centre, the NWRI or the National Wildlife Research Centre in communities across the country. Many of these studies received funding from the Toxic Substances Research Initiatives. As well, through participation in a working group of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), scientists were able to ensure that Canadian perspectives were included in international work to develop screening and testing methods.
- The NWRI is collaborating on EDS research projects throughout Canada. For example: British Columbia -- analysing the presence of EDS in the atmosphere and precipitation in the lower Fraser Valley; Alberta -- determining the extent of endocrine disruption in fish populations downstream from pulp mills; Ontario -- studying the effects of refinery and municipal effluents on trout; New Brunswick -- assessing the ability of natural and synthetic hormones and hormone mimics (such as nonylphenol) to affect Atlantic salmon; and Prince Edward Island -- determining the impact of pesticide residues from potato fields on hormonal balances in fish.
- On the international front, the NWRI contributed expert knowledge on field monitoring of endocrine disruption to a newly published book on endocrine disruption in invertebrates. The book is the first compendium on the subject, with information on physiology, testing methods, field approaches and case studies.
To prepare for the implementation of subsection 44(4), CEPA, 1999, Environment Canada and Health Canada, in partnership with other federal natural resources departments, organized a workshop in February 2000 to establish a national science agenda on EDS. Participants discussed current Canadian research and approaches to risk assessment, reviewed international activities and identified knowledge gaps.
Environment Canada's Pacific and Yukon Region, in partnership with Simon Fraser University, is conducting research to determine if the health and development of fish and crayfish are affected by stream waters that receive run-off from agricultural or urban activities. The research is assessing the presence of contaminants, for example suspected EDS, in the stream waters and identifying how fish and crayfish respond to these substances, using indicators such as the presence of ovarian tissue in male testes. This research is supported by the Region's Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative.
Other research supported by the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative concerns the concentration of airborne toxins in air and precipitation in the lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Surveys of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mosses, invertebrates and amphibians are underway on the forested slopes of the Coast Range mountains to assess the impact of atmospheric depositions of nitrogen, sulphur, metals and PAH pollutants emitted from the Vancouver area. The analysis of this new data with existing data on air quality, water quality and chemistry in plants will be used to evaluate potential biological impacts.
Information on clean air and clean water projects and other projects related to ecosystem health can be found at the Georgia Basin Web site.
The Environmental Technology Centre managed several projects to assist in determining acceptable levels for CEPA substances:
- The Centre completed studies on the Level of Quantification for Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in soil, ash and solvents and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/F) in soil, ash and stack emissions in support of the Toxic Substances Management Policy (TSMP) on the virtual elimination of CEPA Track 1 substances. The final report, " Level of Quantification Determination: PCDD/F and Hexachlorobenzene," is posted on the Environment Canada Web site.
- The Centre coordinated federal input to a Canada-wide Standard for Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHC) in Soil. The work included co-chairing a national multistakeholder workshop; preparing the draft Canada-wide Standard Ministerial Agreement; chairing the Analytical Development Technical Advisory Group; developing a draft national analytical reference method for PHC in soil; coordinating research and development on eco-toxicity testing of PHC; and developing and applying a technique to generate fractions for exo-toxicity testing.
- The Centre finalized and published a sediment toxicity test reference method for the Ocean Disposal Regulations.
During 1999-2000, the NWRI organized a meeting of experts to develop a common understanding of potential risks to ecosystems, wildlife and biodiversity from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The participants worked to identify areas of uncertainty in the environmental risk assessment of GMOs and areas where Environment Canada could and should be involved. They took the first steps in developing a strategy and action plan for Environment Canada to implement to ensure that these organisms are used in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Health Canada has several important groups of studies relating to the classification of substances.
- Experiments are being conducted to identify the specific components of particulate matter as determinants of acute and chronic toxicity. Major research efforts during the last years suggest that both soluble and insoluble fractions of particles may have a serious effect on lungs and hearts. A project funded by the Toxic Substances Research Initiative involving researchers from Health Canada, University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba and the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval is studying this effect using animal and cell culture models. Additional studies by Health Canada and the Gage Institute (University of Toronto) are making the links to humans. New biomarkers are providing clues on the effects of ambient particles on health.
- Testing is underway to assess the mutagenicity of metabolites of 1,3-butdiene, a Priority Substances List 2 (PSL2) chemical, in mouse cells using a transgenic marker gene. Health Canada, through funding provided by the Toxic Substances Research Initiative,is also assessing the ability of air pollutant chemicals to induce micro- satellite instability (changes in the DNA sequencing in lung cells) and determining if this form of genetic instability has the potential to cause adverse effects on health.
- The potential for children to develop neurological disturbances when they have been exposed to POPs has become a serious health concern. Some POPs are on the Priority Substances List 1 (PSL1) and on Track 1 of the Toxic Substances Management Plan. A Health Canada study is investigating effects on the offspring of rats that have been exposed to a reconstituted mixture of organic pollutants, similar to that of a human exposure scenario. Studying functional, neurochemical, molecular biological and morphological effects in a controlled laboratory setting will help in the assessment of health hazards of POPs and the development of guidelines and health advisories for at-risk populations, particularly children and Aboriginal peoples living in the North.
- Exposure to mixtures of chemicals could have more deleterious short and long-term health effects than exposure to a single chemical. Therefore, studies were initiated to: (1) identify appropriate regulatory testing strategies for endocrine disrupters; (2) test the short and long-term toxic effects of in utero and neonatal exposure to mixtures of POPs; and (3) assess if the safety guidelines established for single chemicals are still adequate when a person is exposed to a mixture of compounds. Studies are being conducted on male and female rodents, testing for adverse effects on normal development, the reproductive and thyroid system, and the risk to develop breast cancer and prostate dysfunction. These investigations are in part funded by the Toxic Substances Research Institute and are performed in collaboration with the University of Ottawa, Université du Québec, University of Toronto, McMaster University, and Fox Chase Cancer Center (Pennsylvania, USA).
- In order to reduce uncertainties caused by using toxicity data in animals to predict effects in humans, scientists in Health Canada have developed expertise in physiologically based pharmacokinetic modelling, which permits direct extrapolation of animal data to humans using physiological parameters such as organ size, heart rate and blood flow.
- Collaborative research between Health Canada and the University of Toronto has delineated underlying mechanisms of toxicity of formaldehyde, a PSL2 chemical. It as also demonstrated interactive effects between methanol, ethanol and formaldehyde. These results indicate the need to develop exposure guidelines for mixtures because of interactive effects among the chemicals.
Detection of Substances
One of the areas of rapidly evolving research is the technology associated with monitoring and controlling the release of substances to the environment.
- The NWRI developed and used a sensitive new method for the analysis of bisphenol A (BPA) to assess the extent of BPA contamination in sewage treatment plants and pulp and paper mills across Canada and in some industrial sites in the Toronto area. BPA is a compound widely used in the manufacture of many plastic products and a toxic and endocrine-disrupting substance. It appears to be widespread in the environment. Further work is being conducted on its occurrence in the environment, and Environment Canada scientists are planning to evaluate its impact on aquatic organisms.
- The microwave-assisted process (MAPTM) liquid-phase extraction for analytical sample preparation, developed by the Environmental Technology Centre, is now an official Environment Canada and United States Environmental Protection Agency reference method. The method can be used for the determination of over 100 analytes, including semi-volatile organic compounds, organophosphorus pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, chlorinated herbicides, phenoxy acid herbicides, substituted phenols, PCB and PCDD/F, in solids such as soils, clays, sediments, sludge and other solid waste. Commercial equipment capable of performing the method is already available through two licensees.
Through its labs at the Environmental Technology Centre and Wastewater Technology Centre, Environment Canada continues to provide financial support for university research on the development and validation of laboratory techniques for predicting the survival and gene flow of genetically modified microorganisms prior to their release into the environment. In addition, the Wastewater Technology Centre is working on the development of microbial techniques for detecting the presence of waterborne pathogens in an aquatic environment. These activities support both regulatory development and enforcement.
Development of Cost-Efficient Tests for Substances
Cost-effective and scientifically reliable tests are essential for the ongoing monitoring of substances in the environment and for checks on particular substances. Here are some examples of tests developed by Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists that relate to the implementation of CEPA:
The Toxic Substances Research Initiative (TSRI) is a $40 million program managed by Health Canada and Environment Canada, which was launched in 1998. The research funded by the TSRI will help to protect the health and environment of Canadians by gathering an improved knowledge of toxic substances and their adverse effects. The TSRI enhances existing research partnerships and fosters the development of new collaborations between non-government and federal government researchers to focus on emerging issues.
- Transgenic mutation assays are being evaluated by Health Canada to determine if they can be used in the testing of new substances.
- Technology developed under contract to Health Canada to measure changes in chromosome number in human sperm has been adapted for use in mice. In a project funded by the Toxic Substances Research Initiative, the method is being used to measure the induction of aneuploidy in mice exposed to trichloroethylene and its metabolites.
Technology at Work
The Environmental Technology Centre is providing support to a MAPTM (microwave-assisted process) licensee to demonstrate the potential use of MAPTM as a clean industrial process that reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Another goal is to find a substitute for the solvent hexane, a GHG contributor, which is currently used for canola oil production.
The Environmental Technology Centre assisted with a variety of testing projects:
- it provided proficiency testing samples to the Canadian Association of Environmental Analytical Laboratories (CAEAL) for their accreditation programs on anions and trace metals on air filters and PCBs in oil. Auditors supported Standards Council of Canada and CAEAL laboratory audits, including 10 audits for biological testing methods.
- research and development work continued on the development of an airborne laser-acoustic sensor to measure oil slick thickness remotely. The prototype sensor was modified to include a new photo-refractive crystal detector, which was mounted in a new support structure in an aircraft.
A transgenic murine model has been established and is routinely used to assess genotoxicity of CEPA toxics. Another molecular- based, multigene array assay, addressing the detection of tumor-promoting chemicals, is in the final stages of validation. Also, laboratory and field research is being conducted to validate new methods for characterization (assessing quality), detection of exposure and effects in the environment and in humans to microbe-based biotechnology products.
In 1999-2000, the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy supported the completion of two key projects, which addressed immune effects in migrant worker exposure (with University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Ohio, USA) and validation of a model for screening pathogenic effects of microorganisms. These detection methods were also used to support acquisition of data from provinces and other federal departments on identification, quantification and movement of biopesticides in the environment.
Reduction in the Use, Release or Presence of Toxic Substances
Research and development can identify ways to reduce or avoid the use, release or presence of substances that may have a harmful effect on the environment or human health.
Sample tests are used to establish the presence of toxic substances and verify compliance with CEPA regulations. In 1999-2000, the Environmental Technology Centre:
- performed stack sampling in support of inventory development and strategic options planning to evaluate emissions from a variety of sources including three active landfills, conical waste incinerators, coal-fired power plants, federal heating plants and gas flaring stacks
- analysed legal samples for Environment Canada regional offices. The analyses included samples collected by regional inspectors regarding the levels of dioxins under the CEPA Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Regulations; levels of dioxins and furans under the CEPA Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations; and PCBs under the various CEPA regulations concerning the production, use, storage, disposal, export and discharge of PCB-containing materials.
An important contribution to pollution prevention is the sharing of expertise -- internally, among regional and national offices of Environment Canada, and externally, with other federal and provincial government departments, the regulated public, international agencies and foreign governments.
Environment Canada maintains an extensive Web site, which is a major source of CEPA-related information.
In addition, as required by section 12, CEPA, 1999, an Environmental Registry has been set up to meet the commitment to encourage and support public participation. On June 14, 1999, the CEPA Registry Office began the design and development of a Web site prototype to provide user-friendly, up-to-date online access to CEPA-related public documents, including the Act, regulations, notices, orders, policies, agreements, plans and substances lists. The Environmental Registry was developed in consultation with Environment Canada and Health Canada organizations responsible for the implementation of CEPA, 1999. Stakeholders also provided input through workshops and other public events. The Web site was launched on March 31, 2000.
The Environmental Technology Centre prepared a handbook on the in situ burning of oil spills. The handbook provides guidance to contingency planners and emergency response units who may have to respond to an oil spill situation.
Environmental Quality Guidelines and Objectives
Environmental quality guidelines and objectives are established under CEPA Part I for air, water (freshwater and marine), tissue, sediment and soil. In addition, Environment Canada participates in the development of Canadian environmental quality guidelines under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). These guidelines are widely used across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions for assessing the status and trends of environmental contamination in water bodies and for managing toxic substance risks in the environment. Guidelines specify a limit or concentration of a substance in the environment that is recommended in order to protect and sustain the environment and its uses. In the case of persistent and bioaccumulative toxic substances, guidelines may be used as "action levels" -- interim management objectives that assist with tracking progress toward the virtual elimination of the substances.
During 1999-2000, a significant concerted effort took place to launch the compendium on Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines under the auspices of the CCME. Guidelines are developed for all media (water, sediment, soil and tissue), resource uses (irrigation and livestock watering) and land uses (agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial).) In 1999-2000, eight national guidelines were finalized and approved, and eight were under development:
Water Quality Guidelines
Finalized: ammonia, aluminum, reactive chlorine species, inorganic fluorides, and mercury
Initiated: nonylphenols and its ethoxylates, nitrates/nitrites, and phosphorous
Work in progress: revised guidelines for metals -- copper, selenium, and silver
Sediment Quality Guidelines
Finalized: dioxins and furans
Initiated: nonyphenols and its ethoxylates
Soil Quality Guidelines
Assessment finalized: petroleum hydrocarbons
Initiated: nonyphenols and its ethoxylates, dioxins and furans
Work in progress: selenium and uranium
Tissue Quality Guidelines
Finalized: dioxins and furans
Work in progress: risk assessment of mercury to Canadian wildlife
Sydney Tar Sands Clean-up
Cleaning up the pollution at the Sydney Tar Sands is a huge challenge. The Environmental Technology Centre has evaluated innovative processes for treating the contamination using bench-scale testing samples. The next phase involves field-scale testing of the technologies that provided the best results in the laboratory.
Environment Canada's Research Facilities
- Environmental Technology Centre
- monitors air quality through the NAPS Network
- provides science and analysis in support of regulations
- conducts mobile and stationary emissions measurement research, as well as audits
- supports quality laboratory management (for example, Good Laboratory Practice)
- develops chemical and biological test methods
- contributes to science and technology outreach
- Wastewater Technology Centre*
- develops and assesses novel wastewater treatment technologies
- investigates applications of environmental genomics and DNA microassay technology
- develops the MAPMC family of technologies and other technologies that have a high potential for reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions
- provides analytical support to selected Environment Canada programs (for example, EDS) as well as technical support to developing protocols for substances added to the PSL and methods in support of Wastewater Technology Centre programs
- provides outreach, including intellectual property management, technology transfer and protocol development for technology verification programs
- St. Lawrence Centre
- works to support the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 Project to protect and conserve the St. Lawrence River ecosystem
- National Wildlife Research Centre
- studies the impact of toxic substances on wildlife
- Climate and Atmospheric Research Directorate
- studies the levels and movements of pollutants in the atmosphere
* From 1994 to 1999, the Wastewater Technology Centre was operated as a government-owned, company-operated facility. Environment Canada retook possession of the Centre in mid-1999, refurbished its laboratories and redefined its mandate.
Two Important Resource Materials
Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines 1999
This multimedia document summarizes environmental toxicity data and environmental quality guidelines for over 200 substances in air, soil, water, sediment and tissue residue for the protection of both human and environmental health. It is published by the CCME in hard copy and on CD-ROM and is the most comprehensive compilation of environmental quality guidelines in the world.
A Compendium of Environmental Quality Benchmarks
Environment Canada's Pacific and Yukon Region has prepared, under the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative, a collection of guidelines, criteria, objectives and standards from 33 countries. The document contains up-to-date benchmarks for 1200 variables, including chemicals, bacteria and physical characteristics, divided into three sections for water quality, sediment quality and tissue residues for freshwater and marine systems. The compendium is available on CD-ROM and on the Internet.
The CEPA Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Air Quality Objectives and Guidelines (WGAQOG)
The WGAQOG consists of representatives of both environment and health departments. The group reviews scientific information and prepares recommendations for National Ambient Air Quality Objectives. Science-based guidance is also provided to support the development of Canada-wide Standards. The group was formed to support the CEPA Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee (subsequently the National Advisory Committee under CEPA, 1999).
- In 1999, Health Canada and Environment Canada, through the WGAQOG, published the Science Assessment Document for ground-level ozone. This document contains a broad review of the scientific issues, including identification of the lowest levels at which effects have been demonstrated for human health, and provides a risk characterization for human health, vegetation and materials. The group also published the non-monetary risk and benefit analysis for particulate matter (PM Addendum).
- The WGAQOG completed stakeholder consultations for the non-monetary risk and benefit analysis of ground-level ozone. The risk and benefit analysis will be revised to reflect the input of stakeholders. This work will ultimately be published as an Addendum to the Science Assessment Document for ground-level ozone.
The WGAQOG has revised and updated the Science Assessment Document for Total Reduced Sulphur in the context of peer review comments.
- Date modified: