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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 1999 to March 2000

Part II: Toxic Substances

Toxic Substances (CEPA Sections 11-48)

Part II contains provisions to reduce the risks posed by existing substances found in Canada or new substances coming into Canada.

As defined in CEPA, a substance is "toxic" if "it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions

  1. having or that may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment;
  2. constituting or that may constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends; or
  3. constituting or that may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health." (Section II)

Part II also authorizes the regulation of the import and export of hazardous wastes and the composition of fuels.

The Domestic Substances List

The Domestic Substances List (DSL) is an inventory of more than 23 650 substances manufactured in, or imported into, Canada on a commercial scale. It was originally based on substances deemed to have been in Canada between January 1984 and December 1986. Substances not on this list are considered new to Canada, and Environment Canada and Health Canada must be notified prior to manufacture or import to determine whether they are toxic or could become toxic.

The DSL includes the original list, published on May 4, 1994, as well as all additions or deletions subsequently published in the Canada Gazette as a result of the new substances assessments and auditing of original nominations. In fiscal year 1999-2000, there were 221 additions to the DSL and one deletion. A Web site allows a search of the current DSL and Non-Domestic Substances List (NDSL) inventories.

New Substances Notification Regulations

Before new substances can be manufactured in or imported into Canada, the New Substances Notification Regulations, 1994 require manufacturers and importers to provide information on chemical identity, toxicological and environmental effects data, manufacturing, processing and use data and the amounts proposed for manufacture or import. If a substance is suspected of being "toxic," the government may require additional information or testing, impose controls or ban the manufacture or import of the substance. New substances include new chemicals and polymers as well as products of biotechnology.

Chemicals and Polymers

During 1999-2000, Environment Canada and Health Canada jointly assessed 900 new substances and 179 transitional substances. Transitional substances were manufactured in or imported into Canada between January 1987 and July 1994 (when the New Substances Notification Regulations came into effect). These reviews resulted in the imposition of various kinds of controls on eight substances. Tributyltetradecylphosphonium chloride (TTPC), which was assessed in 1998 was added to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) on March 31, 2000.

The OECD Working Group on Good Laboratory Practice appointed Canada to lead a new project on automated data reporting and retrieval.

In an effort to harmonize the notification and assessment of new substances in the United States and Canada, Environment Canada has partnered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and American and Canadian companies and industry associations in the "Four Corners" pilot project. The pilot project, involving the exchange of technical data and assessment information, ran from July 1996 to July 1998 and has been renewed for two years. During 1999-2000, 10 substances were submitted under this project. Environment Canada and Health Canada jointly assessed nine substances under what is now known as the Four Corners Program. One of these substances was added to the NDSL, and waivers from specific data requirements were recommended for the remaining substances.

A bilateral agreement is being developed between the New Chemicals Program of Australia and the New Substances Program of Canada to share and compare assessment of new chemicals and polymers. The parties are exploring the feasibility of mutual acceptance of assessments for some of these substance categories to reduce duplication of work and to benefit from the collective technical expertise and information databases in the two countries.

The New Substances Notification Program is pursuing the development of cost recovery regulations to collect fees for services. Following extensive consultations, based on reports prepared in previous years and available at the Web site, the government is preparing to publish its cost recovery proposal in the winter of 2001.

Environment Canada and Health Canada made a commitment, at the time of the promulgation of the New Substances Notification Regulations, to review the regulations three years after their implementation. A multistakeholder consultation, involving government, industry, public advocacy groups and labour representatives, has begun to identify possible amendments to the New Substances Notification Regulations and Programs. To date, five meetings have taken place and two more are scheduled for early 2001.

Biotechnology Substances

The biotechnology portion of the CEPA New Substances Notification Regulations came into effect on September 1, 1997. Joint Environment Canada/Health Canada assessments were completed on 10 new biotechnology substances in 1999-2000. After rigorous assessments, it was determined that no controls were required for these biotechnology substances. It should be noted that beyond the assessments conducted under CEPA, Health Canada and other departments and agencies, such as the Canada Food Inspection Agency and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, also conduct assessments of new biotechnology substances under their respective legislative responsibilities.

International Activities

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

There were 29 OECD member countries in 1999-2000:

Australia, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Turkey, United Kingdom, Korea, Denmark, Mexico, Netherlands, United States, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal, Poland, Spain.

Canada now chairs a task force on new chemicals that was established in 1999-2000. Its aim is to advance the sharing of information and research on new chemicals and to establish a basis for acceptance of notifications in OECD countries.

To further international harmonization, both Environment Canada and Health Canada are participating in the OECD Working Group on Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology. While the focus was previously on the development of "Consensus Documents" on the biology of microorganisms, current interest is on more topic-specific documents, such as risk assessment criteria.

Priority Substances


Section 34 of CEPA enables the federal government to take action, including making regulations, relating to the quantity or concentration of a toxic substance that may be released to the environment. Based on the advice of experts, two lists of substances that are the most important to assess for toxicity or the capacity to become toxic have been compiled. The PSL1 was published in 1989 and listed 44 substances. The PSL2, published in 1995, listed 25 substances.

When a substance is deemed toxic under CEPA, the government consults representatives from industry, from federal, provincial and municipal governments, and from Aboriginal and non-governmental organizations to identify management options for that substance. This multistakeholder PSL1 process, referred to as the Strategic Options Process, leads to recommendations to the ministers of the environment and health on the most effective and efficient management options to reduce releases of toxic substances.

Actions on PSL1 Substances

During 1999-2000:

  • A CEPA regulation on the use of tetrachloroethylene in dry cleaning was being drafted for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in early 2001.
  • The ministers accepted 10 multistakeholder issue table recommendations concerning wood preservation.
  • A report with recommendations for the management of hexachlorobenzene, (Bis-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and 1,2-Dichloroethane (DCE) was completed.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding with Refractory Ceramic Fibres manufacturers and processors was initiated.
  • A code of practice was being developed on dichloromethane for commercial paint-stripping applications.
  • Management options were being evaluated for dichloromethane releases from aircraft, paint stripping, flexible polyurethane foam, pharmaceuticals, adhesives and cleaning applications.
  • Amendments to include HCB in the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations were prepared.
  • A recommended Memorandum of Understanding on DCE was developed, and further studies to identify the sources of DEHP contamination of food were undertaken.

Actions on PSL1 Substances for Which There Was Insufficient Information to Conclude on "Toxicity"

At the start of 1999-2000, there were 13 PSL1 substances for which there was insufficient information to conclude on "toxicity" under Section 11(a) of CEPA (effects on the environment) or under Section 11(c) of CEPA (effects on human health). Environment Canada and Health Canada developed research plans and obtained new information on most of the substances. The eight substances or groups of substances for which data on effects on the environment were lacking are: 1,2-dichlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, trichlorobenzenes, tetrachlorobenzenes, pentachlorobenzene, styrene, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane and waste crankcase oils. Risk analysis on these eight substances is being updated using this new information, and the results are to be published in 2000-2001. Health Canada is also updating risk assessments for six substances with results to be published in 2000-2001. (The departments developed approaches for updating or completing the assessments on these substances in 2000-2001.)

Two Ministerial Orders proposing to add two toxic substances to the Export Control List (Schedule 3), CEPA, 1999, were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 25, 1999.

The Orders concerned:

  1. (4-Chlorophenyl)cyclopropylmethanone, O-[(4-nitrophenyl)methyl]oxime that has the molecular formula C17H15CIN2O3, and
  2. TTPC.

Orders adding these substances to the Export Control List were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on March 29, 2000, and came into force on March 31, 2000.

Priority Substances List 1 (PSL1) CEPA Toxic Substances

  1. 1,1,1-Trichloroethane*
  2. 1,2-Dichloroethane
  3. 3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine
  4. Benzene*
  5. Benzidine
  6. Bis (chloromethyl) ether*
  7. Chloromethyl methyl ether*
  8. Short chain chlorinated paraffins
  9. Chlorinated wastewater effluents
  10. Creosote-contaminated sites
  11. Dichloromethane
  12. Effluents from pulp mills using bleaching*
  13. Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
  14. Hexachlorobenzene
  15. Hexavalent chromium compounds
  16. Inorganic arsenic compounds
  17. Inorganic cadmium compounds
  18. Inorganic fluorides
  19. Oxidic, sulphidic and soluble inorganic nickel compounds
  20. Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins*
  21. Polychlorinated dibenzofurans
  22. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  23. Refractory ceramic fibres
  24. Tetrachloroethylene
  25. Trichloroethylene

* already regulated

Priority Substances List 2 (PSL2)

  1. Acetaldehyde**
  2. Acrolein**
  3. Acrylonitrile**
  4. Aluminum chloride, aluminum nitrate, aluminum sulphate+
  5. Ammonia in the aquatic environment
  6. 1,3-Butadiene**
  7. Butylbenzylphthalate*
  8. Carbon disulphide**
  9. Chloramines
  10. Chloroform
  11. N,N-Dimethylformamide
  12. Ethylene glycol+
  13. Formaldehyde
  14. Hexachlorobutadiene
  15. 2-Methoxy ethanol, 2-ethoxy ethanol, 2-butoxy ethanol
  16. N-Nitrosodimethylamine
  17. Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates
  18. Phenol*
  19. Releases from primary and secondary copper smelters and copper refineries
  20. Releases from primary and secondary zinc smelters and inc refineries
  21. Releases of radionuclides from nuclear facilities (impacts on non-human species)
  22. Respirable particulate matter less than or equal to 10 microns**
  23. Road salts
  24. Textile mill effluents

+ Owing to the considerable limitations of the available data on both exposure and effects of these substances, a definitive conclusion of "toxic" or "not toxicv with respect to human health could not be reached. Additional data are being collected.

* The assessment was completed. Notice of the assessment and a summary of the report was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 5, 2000.

**The assessment was completed. Notice of the assessment and a summary of the report was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on May 27, 2000.

Strategic Options Process

Process used to develop options for the effective management of PSL1 toxic substances

Benzidine (5)/3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine (3)**
Chlorinated paraffins (8)
Dichloromethane (11)**
Hexachlorobenzene (14)*

Dry cleaning (24)**
Wood preservation (10, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22)**
Metal finishing (15, 17, 19)**
Electric power generation (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
Refractory ceramic fibres (23)*
1,2-Dichloroethane (2)*
Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (13)*
Solvent degreasing (24, 25)**
Iron and steel (4, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22)**
Base metals smelting (16, 17, 19)**

The numbers in parentheses ( ) refer to the Relevant substance on PSL1.

* A report on recommendations for the management of the substance has been completed.

** Recommendations were completed and accepted by the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health under the Strategic Options Process.

Progress on PSL2 Assessments

The PSL2 list of 25 substances was published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on December 16, 1995. Environment Canada and Health Canada are working together to complete assessments, before December 2000, on the risks to human health and the environment associated with these substances. As of 1999-2000, eight environmental and human health assessments had been completed by Environment Canada and Health Canada, with the remaining 17 to be completed by April 2001.

Taking Action on PSL2 Assessments

In order to manage and ensure the release of the assessment reports before December 2000, Environment Canada and Health Canada jointly prepared a PSL2 Assessment Reports Review, Approval, Publishing and Communications Process in November 1998. The plan is for assessments to be published for public review and comment before ministers make final decisions. An examination of management options for control of release of several of the PSL2 substances, either declared toxic or expected to be declared toxic, got underway. Close cooperation between the assessment and management phases was initiated for specific PSL2 substances. This should ensure early discussions on preventive control management options for substances to be declared toxic.

Toxic Substances Management Policy

The federal government's TSMP was announced in Parliament on June 2, 1995. This policy provides a science-based framework for the management of toxic substances. The key management objectives in the policy are:

  • virtual elimination of releases to the environment of toxic substances that are persistent and bioaccumulative and that are present in the environment primarily due to human activity (Track 1 substances); and
  • management of other toxic substances and substances of concern throughout their life cycles to prevent or minimize their release into the environment (Track 2 substances).

All 12 substances are POPs that also enter the Canadian environment from foreign sources through long-range atmospheric transport. There is more information about Environment Canada's international efforts to control POPs in Part V, International Air Pollution. The Scientific Justification Documents that show the basis for the Track 1 designation are available on the Internet.

Twelve substances met the criteria for management under Track 1 of the Toxic Substances Management Policy when it was first published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on July 4, 1998. These substances, some of which are on the PSL1, are:

  • aldrin
  • DDT
  • endrin
  • mirex
  • PCBs
  • PCDFs
  • chlordane
  • dieldrin
  • HCB
  • heptachlor
  • PCDDs
  • toxaphene

Within Canada, action has already been taken to severely limit or ban the production, use or release of these 12 substances:

  • Dioxins and furans -- Environment Canada and a Federal-Provincial Task Force on Dioxins and Furans prepared an inventory report on releases to the environment. The report indicates that atmospheric releases of dioxins and furans declined by 43% between 1990 and 1999 due to plant closures or upgrades of existing plants, while releases to water declined by 99% due to the implementation of the 1992 Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations and the Pulp and Paper Mill Chlorinated Dioxin and Furan Regulations. The Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations, which also regulate pulp and paper mills nationwide, are under the Fisheries Act and are supported by environmental effects monitoring programs. In addition, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment is developing Canada-wide Standards for this group of substances.
  • HCB -- HCB is released from chlorinated solvents, combustion sources and pesticide use. Regulations are being developed to prohibit the commercial use of HCB alone or in a mixture in concentrations above 50 parts per billion (ppb) and are expected to be ready for publication in the winter of 2001. There will also be a reduction in HCB releases from combustion sources, because the measures to control dioxins and furans will have a direct effect on HCB releases as well.
  • The remaining Track 1 substances were active ingredients in pesticides that are now prohibited in Canada.

The Accelerated Reduction and Elimination of Toxics (ARET) program is a multistakeholder pollution prevention and abatement initiative involving industry, health and professional organizations as well as governments across Canada. Through voluntary action, ARET seeks the virtual elimination of 30 substances that met the ARET criteria for persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity during the ARET substance selection process. ARET also seeks significant reductions in emissions of another 87 substances. Overall, there has been a 67% reduction in the release of toxics included in the ARET program from base-year levels. Of 316 facilities participating in ARET, 136 have already met or exceeded year 2000 targets for all categories of substances on which they report. A commitment was made to develop a successor program, Environmental Leaders. The development of this program has been guided by the recommendations of the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, the department review of ARET, the draft policy for environmental performance agreements and the latest generation of provincial and United States leadership/pollution prevention/toxic use programs.

Fuel Regulations

Sulphur in Gasoline

It is estimated that, over a 20-year period, lowering of sulphur levels in gasoline will prevent over 2,100 premature deaths, 93,000 incidents of bronchitis in children, five million other health-related incidents, such as asthma attacks, and 11 million acute respiratory symptoms, such as coughs, pneumonia and croup.

The Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on June 24, 1999. These regulations will significantly lower the allowable level of sulphur in gasoline sold in Canada. The new limit is 30 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur content in gasoline by January 1, 2005, with an interim limit of 150 ppm by 2002. In 1998, the average Canadian level of sulphur in gasoline was 350 ppm, among the highest in the world.

Benzene in Gasoline

Amendments to the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations (1997) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on May 26, 1999. The amendments allowed companies to apply for an extension of up to six months to comply with the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations.

Gasoline and Gasoline Blend Dispensing Flow Rate Regulations

The Gasoline and Gasoline Blend Dispensing Flow Rate Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on February 16, 2000. In general, these regulations will limit the dispensing flow rate of gasoline and gasoline blends into on-road motor vehicles to a maximum of 38 litres per minute, beginning on February 1, 2001. The regulations will protect the health of Canadians by reducing emissions of benzene and other volatile organic compounds into the environment during the refuelling of cars and light-duty trucks.

Collecting Data to Assist with Substance Assessment and Management

Sections 15 through 18 of CEPA allow the federal government to collect information and conduct investigations to support the assessment of existing substances and the development of management options for substances considered toxic. The following surveys were completed after the notices were sent to specific companies:

  • Notice with Respect to HCB in Ferric Chloride and Ferrous Chloride, Canada Gazette, Part I, October 30, 1999. The notice requests samples of products related to ferric chloride and ferrous chloride for the determination of HCB concentration to assist in developing regulations to prohibit the use of HCB in Canada.
  • Notice to Anyone Engaged in the Production, Import or Use of Ozone-depleting Substances (ODS), Canada Gazette, Part I, September 11, 1999. The notice describes the criteria, process and schedule that Environment Canada will use to determine the relevance of nominations for an exemption for an essential use of ODS as agreed to under the Montreal Protocol.
  • Notice with Respect to Certain Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Canada Gazette, Part I, May 15, 1999. The information was requested for two purposes: to assist the climate change program in calculating the contribution of HFCs to Canadian emissions and to assist in the development of strategies to control emissions from certain uses of these chemicals.
  • Notice with Respect to Certain n-Propyl Bromide and bromochloromethane, Whether Alone or in Mixture, Canada Gazette, Part I, June 26, 1999. The information was used to develop Canada's position for the 11th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and assist in the development of the amendment of theOzone-Depleting Substances Regulations, 1998.
  • Duty to Report Information that a Substance Is Toxic

Section 17 puts an onus on people involved with the commercial importation, manufacture, processing or distribution of a substance to inform the Minister of the Environment of information they may obtain that reasonably supports the conclusion that a substance is toxic or is capable of becoming toxic. In 1999, eight new submissions under Section 17 were received and evaluated by Environment Canada and Health Canada officials.

Hazardous Wastes

The Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations provide a way of tracking the movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable material into and out of Canada, including transits passing through Canadian territory. Exports of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials from Canada have remained relatively stable over the year. Imports, however, show a consistent increase. Information on imports and exports of hazardous waste is published twice a year in the RESILOG newsletter, which is available on the Internet.

Volume Imported and Exported Hazardous Wastes

During the 1999 calendar year, 850 notices for proposed exports of hazardous waste, 7 330 notices for imports and 220 notices for shipments in transit through Canada were processed. During the same period, 47 000 manifests were processed for tracking shipments approved under these notices. This represents an 18% increase over 1998.

In 1999, 77% of exports and 41% of imports were destined for recycling operations. In 1998, these figures were 73% and 58% respectively. The compliance rate for submitting the required documents for waste generator and waste receiver increased for imports, from 90% in 1998 to 97% in 1999, while for exports the compliance rate remained the same at 99%.

Regional Activities

The Quebec Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada, assisted by its Quebec Region staff, developed procedures for the enforcement of the regulations. The Quebec Region also prepared a poster on the documents required to import or export hazardous wastes for customs offices and importers and exporters. A study on the role of railways in the import and export of hazardous wastes in Quebec was also completed.

Training sessions on hazardous waste regulations were offered to businesses in the Quebec Region. Interest in the training was so high that more workshops will be offered in 2000-2001.

Ontario Region also delivered several training workshops to the private sector community, not only in Ontario but also in the Pacific and Yukon Region and the Prairie and Northern Region. Two studies focused on the rail industry's role in the export and import of hazardous waste. The first study provided insight into the rail industry and the export and import of hazardous waste in Ontario, while the second study presented a national statistical analysis on the export and import of hazardous waste by rail and ship.

The Basel Convention

The major goals of the Basel Convention are to control the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure that they are managed in an environmentally sound manner. At the Fifth Conference of Parties held in December 1999, the ministers signed a declaration to focus the work of the Convention for the next decade on environmentally sound management practices. As well, the Parties adopted a Protocol on Liability and Compensation, which is now open for signature. Under CEPA, 1999, Environment Canada intends to work with provinces to develop environmentally sound management criteria that will be applied to imports and exports of hazardous wastes.

Interdepartmental Cooperation

Protecting the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities

The major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment result from human activities on land -- in coastal areas and further inland. Some 80% of the pollution load in the oceans originates from land-based activities. The marine environment is also threatened by physical alterations of the coastal zone, including the destruction of habitats of vital importance to maintain ecosystem integrity.

The draft document "Canada's National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (NPA)" was released for public consultation in March 1999. This initiative was co-led by Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The public consultations and the collaborative efforts of the federal, provincial and territorial governments contributed to the development of the final document. The NPA responds to Canada's commitment under the 1995 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. (Environment Minister David Anderson and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Herb Dhaliwal released "Canada's National Programme of Action" on Oceans Day, June 8, 2000).

Implementation of the NPA will involve using sustainable and integrated environmental management approaches, such as the harmonization of coastal, river basin and land use plans.

Arctic Regional Programme of Action

Canada continues to make progress toward the implementation of the Global Programme of Action through its leadership role in the development of the Arctic Council's Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (RPA). The RPA focuses on regional cooperation and capacity building to address pollution sources in the Arctic, particularly those found in the Russian Federation. The RPA supports the implementation of the Russian NPA-Arctic projects, which have the support of Arctic Council countries. The projects may receive financial assistance from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is a national, legislated, publicly accessible inventory, providing Canadians with access to pollutant release information for facilities located in their communities. The NPRI tracks on-site releases of pollutants to air, water and land and underground injection and off-site transfers for recovery, reuse, recycling and energy recovery.

For the 1998 NPRI National Overview, released in 2000:

  • 2007 Canadian facilities filed reports with NPRI in 1998, an increase of 12.8% from 1995, and
  • 7448 pollutant reports were filed (one report is filed for each substance released or transferred), an increase of 17% from 1995.

The NPRI also has mandatory reporting data on recycling activities.

Extensive consultations during 1999 resulted in the addition of 23 substances to the NPRI for 2000, bringing the total to 268 substances. Fifty-five of these substances are CEPA-toxic. Included in the additions were dioxins and furans, HCB and PAHs at lower release thresholds. The reporting threshold for mercury and its compounds was lowered.

Pacific and Yukon Region held an information session in 2000 to explain the NPRI reporting requirements to British Columbia facilities.

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