This page has been archived on the Web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.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2004 to March 2005

3. Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice

Part 3 authorizes the Minister of the Environment to:

  • establish environmental monitoring systems;
  • collect and publish data on environmental quality in Canada;
  • conduct research and studies on pollution control and environmental contamination;
  • formulate plans for pollution prevention and the control and abatement of pollution; and
  • publish information on pollution prevention, pertinent information on all aspects of environmental quality, and a periodic report on the state of the Canadian environment.

This Part also authorizes the Minister of Health to:

  • collect, process, correlate, and publish on a periodic basis data from any research or studies conducted relating to the role of substances in illnesses or in health problems; and
  • distribute available information to inform the public about the effects of substances on human health.

3.1 Environmental Quality Monitoring

Delivering environmental results depends, in part, on Environment Canada and Health Canada:

  • having the information needed to determine whether or not programs and tools are having their intended effect of improving environmental quality and of reducing human exposure to harmful substances in the environment with subsequent health benefits; and
  • providing the public, including industry, with information related to environmental quality and trends that might prompt it to change its behaviour.

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

Monitoring Programs

3.1.1 National Air Pollution Surveillance Network

The National Air Pollution Surveillance network is a joint federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal network, established in 1969. It is primarily an urban network, with nearly 300 air monitoring stations in 177 communities. In total, almost 840 instruments, including continuous analyzers, particulate monitors, and samplers, are used to provide air quality measurements on toxic substances such as PAHs and dioxins and furans, as well as heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. Over the years, the network has produced one of the largest and most geographically diverse databases of pollutants in Canada.

Beginning in 2002, Health Canada has collaborated with Environment Canada to measure metals in airborne particulate matter. Accomplishments in 2004-05 included the development of analytical method and interlaboratory comparisons between the Environmental Health Sciences Bureau (Health Canada) and the Environmental Technology Centre (Environment Canada) for quality assurance. A valuable outcome of this work was the assurance of consistency between Health Canada's measurements of airborne metals in indoor environments and those of the National Air Pollution Surveillance network.

3.1.2 Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network is a rural air quality monitoring network, which has been taking measurements since 1978. There are currently 29 measurement sites in Canada, located in remote and relatively pristine areas. One site in the United States and another in Canada ensure compatibility of measurement methods between the Canadian and U.S. networks.

In 2004-05, the network continued to support air quality measurements by:

  • providing the background information required for Environment Canada's environmental prediction and air quality forecasts;
  • exchanging data under the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement Ozone Annex obligations (see Section 7.7.1); and
  • providing data to the Aerometric Information Retrieval System database for near-real-time reporting of ozone levels and particulate matter in Canada and the United States.

Data have also been collected at selected sites on a wide range of other pollutants, including substances that were found to meet the criteria of section 64 of CEPA 1999, such as particulate sulphate, gaseous ammonia, nitrate, gaseous sulphur dioxide, and nitric acid. In excess of 25 000 samples of all types were analyzed in 2004-05 in support of Canadian environmental research initiatives.

3.1.3 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Environment Canada continued its research activities on spatial and temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as well as heavy metals in the Canadian Arctic. These activities have contributed to Environment Canada's improved identification of the sources, pathways, and fates of these chemicals and effectiveness of its management actions in addressing these substances. Data that are collected and published under the Northern Contaminants Program, led by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), on human health impacts of long-range transport of pollutants into the Arctic show that bioaccumulation of some POPs in the traditional marine mammal diet of our Inuit peoples can exceed human health guidelines for dietary intake. From this information, AMAP had been asked by the Arctic Council of Ministers to prepare another assessment of Arctic contaminants within five years with a greater focus on human health. The AMAP Human Health Assessment Group, co-led by Canada (Health Canada) and Denmark, has agreed to undertake a third contaminant assessment in the circumpolar Arctic, including special reference to mercury, as requested by the AMAP Working Group and Arctic Council of Ministers.

3.1.4 Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Study

The Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Study is a global network for monitoring chemicals in the environment using simple sampling devices that do not require electricity. This one-year pilot study was initiated in December 2004 at more than 50 sites around the world on all continents and is a collaborative effort managed by Environment Canada scientists working with a team of international researchers. Results from the study will contribute to Canada’s obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants under the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s POPs Protocol.

3.1.5 North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Health Canada is leading a trinational (Mexico, United States, Canada) maternal blood contaminant monitoring project under the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Staff from Health Canada, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Mexican National Institute of Public Health have designed common sampling protocols, dietary questionnaire summaries, and analytical methods to ensure comparability of data. Sampling of maternal blood should allow for the first trinational comparison of contaminants such as mercury, lead, cadmium, PCBs, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). A trinational report and peer-reviewed papers will be produced based on this research.

3.1.6 Northern Contaminants Program

Mercury monitoring has continued over northern Canada. Almost 10 years of measurements show that the gas-phase elemental mercury concentrations at Alert, Nunavut, have remained constant. These results are used to inform international initiatives such as the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Mercury Programme and the Heavy Metals Protocol of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Under the Northern Contaminants Program's baseline air monitoring project, persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative chemicals have been measured at various Canadian and Russian Arctic locations since 1992 to determine whether atmospheric concentrations and deposition of priority pollutants (such as mercury, DDT, PCBs, and hexachlorocyclohexane [HCH]) in the Arctic are changing in response to various national and international initiatives, such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's POPs and Heavy Metals Protocols of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Long-term monitoring data obtained from Alert show that levels of chemicals eliminated or restricted under one or both of these international agreements (e.g., PCBs, DDT, toxaphene, chlordane, and HCH) are generally declining in Arctic air. The role of the atmospheric circulation pattern between the south and the Arctic in the spring was investigated and was shown to be a controlling factor for the varying concentrations in POPs observed during seasonal changes.

In 2004-05, a special issue of the journal The Science of the Total Environment, entitled "Sources, Occurrence Trends and Pathways of Contaminants in the Arctic," was published. This special issue contains 13 peer-reviewed papers dealing with mercury and POPs in the non-living parts of the environment, which include all the physical elements of an organism's existence, especially the intersecting roles of the sun and solar energy, weather and climate, soil, and water. A forthcoming special issue deals with contaminants in fish, wildlife, and humans. Environment Canada scientists made a substantial contribution to and played a leadership role in both publications. These publications were used as the basis for the contaminant information given to Northerners and international partners such as AMAP and were used to satisfy Canada's obligations under international agreements such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

3.1.7 Water Quality Monitoring

The completion of a comprehensive report on elements and recommendations for a Canada-wide framework on water quality monitoring, as well as a successful CCME Water Quality Index workshop, supported Environment Canada’s commitment to better link and expand water quality monitoring networks nationally through the development of a Canada-wide framework. The Canadian Water Quality Data Referencing Network was developed to respond to the need for enhanced information access by obtaining and providing web-based information on water quality monitoring activities within the provincial, territorial, and federal governments. In 2004–05, translation efforts were under way to provide web-based access to the network.

As part of its plan to build capacity in water quality monitoring networks, Environment Canada held a national water quality workshop early in 2005, which brought together representatives from provinces, territories, federal departments, and water quality organizations. The workshop resulted in a constructive dialogue towards nationally consistent monitoring to support reporting on water quality at the national level using the CCME Water Quality Index.

Environment Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, Health Canada, provinces, and territories, began implementation of the national Freshwater Quality Indicator program under the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators initiative. The program includes a nationwide water quality monitoring network expansion to support the data requirements of annual reporting on freshwater quality. The first Freshwater Quality Indicator report, released in December 2005, uses existing data from federal, provincial, and territorial water quality monitoring networks.

3.1.8 Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network provides information from various national and regional monitoring programs, more than 80 long-term integrated ecosystem monitoring sites, and a diversity of ecological monitoring initiatives conducted by numerous collaborators at all levels of government, as well as non-governmental organizations, community groups, academia, and volunteers. The network extends Environment Canada's capacity to collect, access, integrate, assess, and deliver sound information on ecosystem conditions and trends. Notable results in 2004-05 included:

  • finalization of the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network’s benthic monitoring protocol and the development of an electronic platform for the exchange and management of benthic (bottom-feeding) invertebrate (animals without a backbone, such as mayflies, freshwater shrimps, stoneflies, caddis flies, and worms) data, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the National Water Research Institute;
  • implementation of a standardized set of recommended ecosystem monitoring protocols in over 200 monitoring stations across Canada, with an additional 32 monitoring plots added in 2004-05;
  • addition of 80 new partners and associates to the network, which now tops over 460 individuals and organizations;
  • training over 130 individuals to use the network's standardized monitoring protocols;
  • completion of an inventory of protocols suitable for community-based monitoring;
  • delivery of a special session on the theme "Linking Science to Decision-Making at Community and Landscape Scales" at the international Consortium for Advancing Monitoring of Ecosystem Sustainability in the Americas Monitoring Science and Technology Symposium ( reports/publications/intro.html);
  • completion of a survey of ecological monitoring activities within the Atlantic Coastal Action Program, which compiled information on monitoring programs, data dissemination and management, and the effectiveness of data delivery, as well as its impacts on policy- and decision-making; and
  • participating in and sharing innovative approaches to enhancing the effectiveness of ecological monitoring, and developing improved links to two U.S. monitoring network initiatives: the Long Term Ecological Research Network Program Review and the design of the new National Ecological Observatory Network.

3.1.9 Framework for National Northern Strategy

On December 14, 2004, the Prime Minister and Territorial First Ministers released a draft framework for the first-ever jointly developed Northern Strategy. The framework included a draft vision for the North, along with suggested principles to guide the development of the Strategy and set possible goals and objectives.

Several monitoring programs will support the Strategy. In 2004-05, four air quality monitoring stations, through the National Air Pollution Surveillance network, were deployed in the North. Yellowknife has two monitoring sites that are equipped to sample for ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 (PM2.5) and 10 microns (PM10), and total suspended particulates. The other two stations are located in the Yukon and Nunavut. The Yukon station is set up to monitor for ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and PM2.5. The Nunavut station, located in downtown Iqaluit, allows for the collection of coarse particulate matter samples. Nunavut has plans to include additional stations and monitoring of fine particulate matter.

In addition, the Northwest Territories have made plans to expand the air monitoring network to address the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project (natural gas pipeline), diamond mines, diesel power generation, hospital biomedical waste incinerators, and overall community air quality.

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network improves understanding of ecological change in northern Canada through promoting coordination and communication of the results of long-term ecological monitoring. The network also contributes to the understanding of issues such as POPs and heavy metals, climate change, environmental predictions, and changes to fresh water. The data collected will be used to support the Northern Strategy and its goals.

Other programs that monitor the North include:

  • Air quality monitoring at Alert under the World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmosphere Watch network -- Alert (latitude 82°N, longitude 63°W) is the northernmost observatory in the Global Atmosphere Watch network of stations that has been tracking the chemistry of the atmosphere on a global basis. Some measurements include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon monoxide, ozone, peroxyacetyl nitrate, radon, mercury, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  • The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (see Section 3.1.2) -- The network is planning to upgrade its website to acquire continuous ozone and PM2.5 data for air quality forecasts.

3.1.10 Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network

The Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network is a Canada-United States network that monitors concentrations of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic pollutants in the air and precipitation near the Great Lakes. In 2004-05, the network measured the concentrations of PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, PAHs, and trace metals in the atmosphere at stations located on the shores of all of the Great Lakes. The results show that atmospheric deposition of most toxic chemicals and banned compounds is generally decreasing following in-basin emission control of these substances. In addition, data indicate that future reductions of toxic chemical levels in the water will be directly related to decreasing concentrations of these compounds in the atmosphere.

A loadings report covering the period 1999-2000 was published in 2004. Improvements to the loadings model included lakewide averaged values for precipitation rates and wind speeds as well as updated physicochemical properties for PCBs.

PCBs continued their trend of volatilizing (the process by which PCBs in surface waters become airborne) out of the Great Lakes, emphasizing the link between lake water and air levels or concentrations. Loadings of combustion and industrial by-products such as PAHs and trace metals have remained constant over time.

3.1.11 Great Lakes and Regional Environmental Quality Monitoring and Surveillance

Ambient environmental quality monitoring programs are carried out in Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, as well as in the St. Clair/Detroit corridor and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers. Water and sediment monitoring for nutrients, organic contaminants, and trace metals is conducted to assess progress towards specified goals for environmental improvement, identify problems and emerging issues, and aid in planning and decision-making. While long-term trends indicate declining concentrations of most contaminants, some chemicals exceed water and sediment quality guidelines, and fish consumption advisories continue throughout the Great Lakes.

As part of the ongoing effort to delineate potential sources of toxic contaminants in the Great Lakes, bottom sediment sampling is conducted at the mouths of several hundred tributaries/watercourses to the Great Lakes. Sampling is being conducted on a rotational cycle: Lake Erie (2001), Lake Ontario (2002, 2003), Lake Huron (2004), and Lake Superior (2005). Substances analyzed include the organochlorine pesticides, industrial by-products (e.g., mirex, octachlorostyrene), PCBs, PAHs, and metals. Results are compared with existing CCME Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines and provincial sediment quality guidelines and combined with other water quality, fisheries, and benthic information using a weight-of-evidence approach to prioritize any subsequent trackdown efforts.

The year 2004 marked the 30th year of the Great Lakes Herring Gull Egg Contaminants Monitoring Program. It is the longest-running annual wildlife contaminants monitoring program in the world. Eggs are analyzed for approximately 100 compounds, including PBDEs, PCBs, dioxins, and mercury. Contaminants may be up to one million times more concentrated than they are in water. Since the early 1970s, concentrations of most major contaminants in gull eggs have been reduced by up to 95%, in response to various initiatives that have curbed or reduced the release of pollutants into the environment.

In 2004-05, reports were released for the tributary trackdown work in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Results showed that federal and/or provincial sediment quality guidelines were exceeded for PCBs, PAHs, and metals in individual tributaries.

3.1.12 Systematic Measurement of Stratospheric Ozone and UV

The Canadian Brewer spectrophotometer observation network consists of nine stations, three of which are in the Arctic. The Brewer instruments measure total column ozone by comparing the intensities of five UV-B wavelengths in order to better correct for the influence of absorbers other than ozone. The Brewers also monitor the nitrogen dioxide column at several sites and make spectrally resolved UV-B measurements at all Canadian sites.

In 2004-05, some 300 ozonesondes, which are instrument packages carried aloft by balloons, were launched throughout the year from six locations in Canada, including three in the Arctic. Ozonesondes provide direct measurements of ozone concentrations at different altitudes in the atmosphere. The longterm trends in average tropospheric ozone concentrations over remote sites in northern Canada are similar to corresponding lower stratospheric trends, and annual average tropospheric ozone values (including surface values) are correlated with lower stratospheric ozone amounts. This suggests that ozone levels in the troposphere in northern Canada are controlled by stratospheric ozone in ways that are not yet well understood.

Previous analyses of ozone trends over Canada using data from ozonesondes have shown strong downward trends in tropospheric and stratospheric ozone concentrations. Over the longer term (1980-2001), ozone levels in both the troposphere (where it is generally regarded as a pollutant) and the stratosphere (where it blocks harmful UV-B) have declined. However, when only the data for 1991-2001 are considered, the trends are positive, even in the lower stratosphere. When the time series are examined, it is evident that ozone has rebounded to some degree at all levels below about 20 kilometres. It has been demonstrated that this rebound is probably a result of small changes in the atmospheric circulation, rather than a recovery of the ozone layer from depletion caused by CFCs.

AEROCAN is a sunphotometer and sky-scanning radiometer network that is part of the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET), a federated group of networks for observing aerosol optical properties globally. These observations can be used to help understand how air pollution events (e.g., smog) affect aerosol optical properties. (Aerosols are tiny particles in the 0.001-100 μm range suspended in the atmosphere and can be solids such as smoke and dust or liquids such as haze droplets. Either naturally occurring or produced by human activities, aerosols have an impact on respiratory health and global climate.) AEROCAN is a collaborative effort between the University of Sherbrooke, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, and the Meteorological Service of Canada. The present network consists of 14 sites, with another 2 being added in fiscal year 2005-06. As part of the Border Air Quality Initiative, the data obtained at these sites will be used for the processing of real-time aerosol optical depths, which will be assimilated into an air quality forecast model.

3.2 Research

Scientific 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 exposure to contaminants;
  • 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.

Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists published hundreds of articles, reports, and papers during this reporting period. The following examples illustrate the types and range of research effort undertaken in 2004-05.

3.2.1 Air

Examples of air research conducted under CEPA 1999 in 2004-05 include:

Detecting changes in the atmosphere's composition

  • The Middle Atmosphere Nitrogen Trend Assessment field campaign was carried out to study the changing chemical balance of the stratosphere. A series of high-altitude balloon campaigns measured stratospheric trace gases, which included ozone profiles obtained from a number of ozonesondes, along with additional groundbased instruments, which provided ozone and nitrogen dioxide total columns and vertical profiles [Research results: Data collected during the field campaign will help define future studies (on stratospheric ozone) and validate instrumentation.]
  • The statistical relationship between springtime and summertime ozone over middle and polar latitudes was analyzed [Research results: It was demonstrated that about 39% of summertime ozone levels decline over southern mid-latitudes and about 15% of summertime ozone levels decline over northern mid-latitudes. These effects can be attributed to polar ozone depletion in spring.]

Profiling chemical characterization

  • Health Canada researchers completed a study of metals and airborne particulate matter in indoor and outdoor air of 10 urban and 10 rural homes in the city of Ottawa, which quantified the public’s exposure to these substances. [Research results: Results from this study indicated that the indoor air concentrations were lower than outdoor air concentrations for most elements (unlike settled dust). A separate study investigated the sources and potential hazards of mutagenic compounds (e.g., PAHs) in settled house dust and the excess lifetime carcinogenic risk that can be attributed to pre-school exposures to settled house dust.]

Understanding the impact of POPs and heavy metals on ecosystems

  • Under the Border Air Quality Strategy, Health Canada undertook health and environmental monitoring activities in the Windsor/Detroit area and initiated the development of sampling and analytical protocols for metals and airborne particulate matter in indoor residential environments, to address data gaps associated with childhood exposures to metals through ingestion and inhalation of settled dust and airborne particles.
  • Health Canada scientists collaborated with the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Laboratory to develop a proficiency testing program to support a draft European standard for metals found in ambient air (lead, arsenic, nickel, and cadmium).

Understanding the adverse impacts of existing toxic substances (particularly ecosystem impacts)

  • The development and use of quantitative methods for assessment of the impacts of air pollution by further development of the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool and the underlying risk and monetization estimates.
  • The development of a method to determine the impact of biodiesel on air quality and subsequent impacts on public health, using the model developed for ethanol.
  • The use of a Buoyancy-Corrected Gravimetric Analysis System to improve the accuracy of mass measurements of airborne particulate matter. [Research results: Health Canada filed worldwide patents for the invention - the facility housing this technological invention became fully operational in 2004 and was used to analyze over 3000 samples collected under the Border Air Quality Strategy.]

Understanding the relative contribution of the numerous sources of pollution

  • In the Georgia Basin – Puget Sound area, Health Canada is conducting research to develop cohorts to evaluate health outcomes and exposure assessment tools. These will be linked to produce estimates of exposures to various air pollutants for each individual using validated exposure models that incorporate specific pollution sources. Models will allow assessment of the impact of these exposures on various health outcomes and the impact of alternative air quality management strategies on health outcomes. They will also allow evaluation of the impact of specific emissions sources on air quality and resulting health effects.
  • Global modelling of transport and transformation has been carried out to quantify the contributions of mercury emissions from various continents to Canada and the rest of North America. [Research results: The information is being used in international agreements to reduce mercury emissions.]
  • Estimation methods for determining atmospheric deposition of acidifying substances have been improved. [Research results: These were employed to determine to what extent critical loads are being exceeded in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and, hence, what further acid gas emission controls will be needed in Canada and the United States.]
  • The 2004 Canadian Acid Deposition Science Assessment report updated information on environmental effects of emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides (both on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999), in the form of data on critical loads and current exceedances of critical loads in consideration of damage to forest soils and aquatic ecosystems [Research results: This work provides insight into the adequacy of current pollution abatement plans and the extent of further reductions necessary to achieve environmental goals.]

Understanding why air quality is changing from

  • The use of biodiesel fuels.
  • The use of wood stoves as heat sources in a residential neighbourhood of Montreal. [Research results: the principal cause of the reduction of air quality in the residential neighbourhood compared with central Montreal was found to be the use of wood stoves by the residents.]

How to address air quality issues

  • Exhaust emission measurements were conducted on different mobile source types operating on biodiesel fuels under “real-world” conditions. [Research results: These data from marine vessels, off-road equipment, and urban buses provided both Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada with information in support of policy development, such as the use of renewable fuels under the Climate Change Action Plan.]
  • Collaborative research and development programs with industry supported the development and optimization of new aftermarket emissions control technologies for both on-road heavy-duty vehicles and off-road construction equipment. [Research results: The focus of the work was to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines using exhaust gas recirculation and selective catalytic reduction for both on-road heavy-duty vehicles and off-road construction equipment.]

3.2.2 Contaminated Sites

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

Understanding the effect on human health from exposure to

  • Mixtures of metals based on metal contaminants found at Canadian contaminated sites. [Research results: Although the study is not yet completed, the preliminary results indicate no serious impact on reproduction or growth of the test animals.]
  • Complex mixtures of PAHs in contaminated soils. [Research results: Comparisons of synthetic mixtures containing priority PAHs in amounts that correspond to those found at selected contaminated sites indicate that mutagenic effects, and presumably corresponding carcinogenic effects, of PAHs are cumulative. However, the total cumulative hazard attributable to priority PAHs in the mixture may be substantially less than that determined using standard risk assessment procedures that assume total risk is the sum of individual risks associated with each detected priority PAH. For this reason, site management decisions based on standard screening-level risk assessments may be conservative. Ongoing research will validate these initial findings.]

Understanding the effect on soil quality from

  • Flame retardant compounds PBDEs and tetrabromobisphenol A, and their degradation products, in surficial sediment samples spanning sites across Lake Erie.

Identifying and addressing the problem using

  • A new soil toxicity method that includes earthworm survival, avoidance behaviour, and reproduction testing options, which was published in support of the federal facilities’ contaminated sites program.
  • Thermally enhanced bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons by combining bioremediation and underground thermal energy storage.
  • Naturally generated organic acids to leach heavy metals from contaminated soil.

3.2.3 Water Quality

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

Understanding the effect of pollution on water quality

  • The fate and persistence of the pesticide DDT (listed on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999) in the subsurface at Point Pelee National Park were assessed. [Research results: Past use of this substance for pest control in the former orchards and recreational areas has resulted in the contamination of soil, which still contains the pesticide at concentrations far above soil quality guidelines, and increased mortality of various species. Contaminated groundwater may represent a pathway to exposure of humans through the park’s water supply wells and the aquatic ecosystem via groundwater discharge to the marsh. The results showed that the contamination of groundwater by DDT does not present a threat to humans or wildlife.]
  • More than 500 groundwater samples from various federal government departments, the provinces, and other agencies, as well as samples of ambient groundwater from Canadian military bases and from agricultural districts, were analyzed. [Research results: Health Canada has developed a drinking water guidance value for perchlorate in response to a request from the Department of National Defence. Health Canada subsequently received the results of this survey, which does not raise concerns regarding perchlorate levels in drinking water supplies. However, Health Canada will continue to monitor evolving science on this issue. Perchlorate concentrations in drinking water below 6 micrograms per litre are considered acceptable.]

Improving water quality through the use of

  • A new method to isolate, identify, and quantify PBDEs in municipal wastewater effluent. [Research results: In support of CEPA 1999 regulations for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances, a reference method has been developed and validated for the measurement of hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), HCB, pentachlorobenzene, and the three tetrachlorobenzenes in chlorinated solvents.]

Understanding the effect of pollution on health

  • Sixteen different composite samples of wastewater effluent from seafood processing plants were collected at 13 sites over the daily plant production period. The effluent samples were submitted to a wide variety of laboratory tests to demonstrate the capacity of the effluent to cause adverse effects on a wide variety of organisms (bacteria, sea urchins, and fish). The adverse effects of the tests included inhibition of cellular activity, inhibition of growth, inhibition of fertilization, and mortality. Furthermore, the tests on fish looked at both the acute and chronic potential of the effluent to cause adverse effects.
  • The capacity of beluga whales to metabolize PBDEs and PCBs was compared. This research examined the possible role of metabolism in the toxicological risks of organohalogen exposures by examining the immunochemical and catalytic characterization of Phase I and II enzymes in liver, organohalogens and metabolites in liver, and in vitrometabolism using an assay technique that looks at the liver tissue fractions that contain viable Phase I and II enzymes.

3.2.4 Ecosystem Initiatives Atlantic Coastal Action Program

The Atlantic Coastal Action Program is a community-based program that includes a network of 14 ecosystem-based organizations across the four Atlantic provinces. Since the program began in 1991, these groups have undertaken hundreds of projects involving diverse partners and thousands of volunteers. Science and monitoring projects have supported informed decision-making, linking scientists with communities and science with other forms of information.

In 2004-05, an airshed project in the Pictou region of Nova Scotia provided a better understanding of the sources, fate, and potential effects of pollution in the area by:

  • monitoring the water quality and effects on aquatic invertebrates exposed to agricultural runoff from Prince Edward Island potato fields (the effectiveness of buffer zones in reducing the contaminant content of runoff was determined); and
  • conducting atmospheric ozone profiles on Sable Island, environmental and sensitivity mapping of the Miramichi Estuary, and road salt loadings in a St. John's urban watershed.
asp?lang=En&n=B85A3121-11&referer=sitemap St. Lawrence Action Plan, Vision 2000

The St. Lawrence Action Plan has entered its fourth phase of implementation, which comprises three objectives: protecting the ecosystem, protecting the health of communities, and improving access to the St. Lawrence River.

Activities under the plan in 2004-05 that related to substances on Schedule 1 included:

  • review of sediment quality criteria; and
  • remediation of contaminated sediments along the river.

A monitoring committee involving Environment Canada and the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks was established in the fall of 2003 to oversee the review of the chemical sediment quality criteria currently used in Quebec. It tabled its final report in Parliament in January 2005. As a result, the criteria published in 1992 will be replaced by new sediment quality evaluation criteria based on the approach developed by the CCME for Canadian guidelines.

The proposal to securely contain 16 000 cubic metres of highly contaminated sediments in the St. Louis River, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River, was approved by the Quebec government in March 2005. The preparatory work began in 2005.

A report was published on the monitoring of the Great Blue Heron along the St. Lawrence River. The level of contamination in the St. Lawrence River was generally below the levels associated with toxicological effects in the Great Blue Heron. Globally, the health status of the St. Lawrence Great Blue Heron population was judged to be sufficient to maintain the population. However, plasma retinol (the main form of the vitamin A molecule) concentrations were found to be lower when concentrations of PCBs and organochlorines were higher. A lower retinol concentration may impair growth and development of heron fledglings. Great Lakes

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

Understanding the impacts on water quality from

  • Several substances on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, including hormone-disrupting substances and flame retardants, as well as other emerging chemicals of concern, such as pharmaceuticals, veterinary drugs, and personal care products.
  • Chlorinated and brominated phenolics (e.g., the anti-microbial agent triclosan and hydroxylated PCB metabolites) and hydroxylated PBDEs (apparent metabolites of PBDE flame retardants). These substances were found in the blood plasma of 13 species of benthic (bottom-feeding) and pelagic (non-bottom-feeding) fish from the Detroit River system. Many of these pollutants have the potential to disrupt the endocrine systems, particularly the thyroid hormone system, in exposed organisms. Work is under way to determine the effects of the substances found to be present. Georgia Basin Action Plan

The multiagency Georgia Basin Action Plan (2003-08), which includes several areas in Canada and Puget Sound in the state of Washington, was announced on April 2, 2003.

Priorities for research and monitoring needs pertaining to 20 substances of concern in the Georgia Basin were identified. Recommendations are currently being finalized in conjunction with other levels of government for future work to address these priorities. Fourteen of the 20 priority substances are also on the List of Toxic Substances under CEPA 1999 or are proposed for addition to the list. They include nonylphenol and its ethoxylates, PAHs, PCBs, DDT, HCB, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), ammonia (dissolved in water), and metals such as cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel.

An emissions inventory and preliminary health risk assessment of over 200 air toxics were undertaken. The results will be used to inform decision-makers in the Lower Fraser Valley on the risk to human health from air toxics and to address air emissions.

Examples of research activities in 2004–05 include identifying the effect that emerging chemicals (atrazine and galaxolide) have on the environment and the toxicogenomic effects on salmonids and amphibian early life stages when exposed to municipal wastewater effluents and effluents containing select pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Northern Ecosystem Initiative

The Northern Ecosystem Initiative supports research activities to enhance the health and sustainability of communities and ecosystems across Canada's North.

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

  • The impacts from contaminant exposure (organochlorines, PCBs, PBDEs, mercury, and selenium) on the physiology, condition, and development (focusing on variables related to endocrine and immune function and oxidative stress) in the Arctic marine bioindicator species, the Glaucous Gull (the study is to be conducted from 2004 to 2007).
  • The linkage between climate change and mercury levels in Arctic lakes (sediment) and fish (arctic char).
  • Detecting the changes in soil contaminated by PCBs and fuel in Hopedale, Labrador.

3.2.5 Hormone-Disrupting Substances

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

Understanding the potential impacts on human health from the exposure to:

  • Mixtures of contaminants (PCBs, DDT, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [DDE], PCDDs, and PCDFs). [Research results: The effects of this mixture and other mixtures (organochlorine pesticides, methylmercury, and PCBs) were compared following both in utero and postnatal exposure in rodents. (In the latter investigation, indicators of hormone disruption and other effects were selected for their potential to reveal long-term adverse health consequences).]
  • A commercial PBDE mixture. [Research results: The results indicate that exposure of avian neuronal cells to this mixture resulted in the alteration of genes associated with key hormonal (such as the thyroid hormone) and neurotransmitter pathways (such as the cholinergic system), with potential impacts on organism development, mobility, bioenergetics, and homeostasis.]
  • Chlorinated and brominated phenolic and methoxylated pollutants in the blood plasma of 13 species of benthic (bottom-feeding) and pelagic (non-bottom-feeding) fish from the Detroit River system. [Research results: Chlorinated phenolics (e.g., the anti-microbial agent triclosan and hydroxylated PCB metabolites) and hydroxylated PBDEs (apparent metabolites of some flame retardants) were found in the blood plasma of all fish examined. ]

3.2.6 Technology Development

Examples of research in 2004-05 include:

Reducing the health and safety impacts of environmental threats by using

  • Advanced wastewater treatment systems (pilot-scale) to remove endocrine disrupting compounds such as nonylphenol and polybrominated flame retardants found in municipal effluents. The results will guide future wastewater technology development.
  • Microwave-Assisted ProcessesTM technologies (large- scale applications) to reduce energy use, solvent use, and greenhouse gas emissions in industrial processing, such as those found in the commodity food oils industry and manufacturing operations -- ongoing work included substituting n-butane for hexanes, thereby adding significant clean air co-benefits to the greenhouse gas reductions.
  • Microwaves for chemical synthesis to reduce energy use in the order of 95% when taking into account the overall energy production cycle (solvent production, synthesis, purification, solvent removal).
  • After-treatment reduction technology for nitrogen oxides to determine the potential for emissions reductions from the marine propulsion engines.
  • The digestion of municipal sludges with potato wastes as a low-cost and sustainable source of hydrogen from organic waste materials, which could reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
  • A low-cost technology to improve the economics of recovering energy from biogases recovered from landfills and from the digestion of municipal sludges and manure. [Research results: Removal of hydrogen sulphide from biogas.]

3.2.7 Substances that Meet the Criteria of Section 64 and Other Substances of Concern

Research in 2004-05 included efforts to understand the health effects from:

  • The releases of HCB from green pigments in consumer products into the environment. [Research results: Results obtained will be considered when identifying whether further preventive or control actions are required.]
  • The consumption of fish and mammals (containing mercury, other metals, POPs, and potential candidate POPs) commonly consumed by indigenous peoples with a focus on the causal factors for differences in levels between life forms and locations, and the temporal trends.
  • The exposure of fish-eating wildlife (mink, otter) to environmentally realistic dietary concentrations of methylmercury. [Research results: Exposure was found to be associated with significant neurochemical alterations, at tissue mercury concentrations lower than currently accepted no-effect levels. Neurochemical approaches may generate novel biomarkers of mercury exposure and preclinical effects in wildlife.]

3.2.8 Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

In 2004-05, work under CEPA 1999 included the development of analytical methods related to acidic pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and neutral drugs in sewage. A number of these drugs have been found in municipal wastewater influents and effluents and in natural waters. Research continued on the efficiency of treatment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products by municipal wastewater treatment plants, on their occurrence in the Canadian environment, and on their effects on aquatic life forms.

Other research studies conducted in 2004-05 included:

  • Effects of pharmaceuticals on microbial community structure;
  • Effects of acidic pharmaceutical substances on a benthic invertebrate;
  • Neutral pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment;
  • Long-term fish exposures to pharmaceutical compounds; and
  • Pharmaceutical metabolism in fish.

3.2.9 Wildlife

Research in 2004-05 included efforts to identify the health impacts from:

  • Dioxins on gene expression (e.g., altered fatty acid biosynthesis, effects on thyroid hormone receptors) in cultured chicken liver cells. [Research results: This research is expected to increase knowledge about the complex toxicological effects of dioxins, furans, and PCBs in wildlife and humans.]
  • POPs and new potential pollutants such as brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated acids and metals. [Research results: Results from the multiyear study include the spatial and temporal trends, tissue distribution, and relationships to immune, endocrine, and physiological health biomarkers such as POPs in the tissues of polar bears collected in circumpolar Arctic regions.]
  • PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, and mercury. [Research results: Seabird eggs were collected along the Atlantic coast as part of an ongoing program to monitor long-term temporal and spatial trends of contaminants in the marine environment. Contaminant trends in seabird eggs provide the best available indicator to assess the success of efforts to manage toxic chemicals in the marine environment of Atlantic Canada. Results will be published in 2006.]
  • Certain dioxins, furans, and PCBs. [Research results: Significant relationships have been found between some organochlorine contaminants and biochemical markers in the livers of a northern bird species (fulmars) breeding in the Canadian High Arctic. This suggests that concentrations of some contaminants found in these birds are high enough to induce enzymes that may inhibit or interfere with normal biochemical activity. Research continues to elucidate the scope of the interaction.]
  • Mercury in birds across northeastern North America. [Research results: Factors affecting high exposure were studied. While some geographic areas with high exposure were associated with high hydrological and biogeochemical factors, areas of high exposure in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia were associated with emission point sources and acid precipitation. This research also documented adverse effects of mercury on loon reproduction and behaviour.]
  • PBDEs -- flame retardants. [Research results: Temporal, spatial, and interspecific trends were determined retrospectively in eggs of marine and freshwater bird species (Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, and Leach's Storm-Petrel) collected from the province of British Columbia and stored in the National Specimen Bank of the Canadian Wildlife Service at the National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa. PBDEs increased exponentially with a doubling time of 5.7 years in eggs of cormorants and herons in the period 1979-2002. Extrapolation of mammalian toxicological information and dearth of avian effects data point to the need for studies to assess the toxicological significance of these PBDE residues in birds.]
  • Nine trace elements -- zinc, copper, mercury, selenium, lead, manganese, cadmium, aluminum, and arsenic. [Research results: Trends in levels of metals in the diet, feathers, and feces of the American Dipper from the Chilliwack watershed in British Columbia were examined to determine differences between the resident population and altitudinal migrants. Most metals detected were within the range of a tolerable daily intake, except for selenium, aluminum, and zinc. Mercury was only a concern for dippers with high fish diets. Mass balance models demonstrated how shifts in diet and breeding location within a watershed can result in changes in exposure that may be of toxicological significance.]
  • PCBs, DDE, mercury, and cadmium. [Research results: Environment Canada continued to monitor and investigate persistent contaminants in seabirds and marine food chains. Recent data revealed high concentrations of contaminants in endangered albatross species that winter on the Pacific coast. Concentrations were strongly related to trophic level, increasing with increasing trophic level and body mass, and low concentrations of organochlorine pesticides were detected in all samples. A more comprehensive study may determine temporal and spatial variation in trophic level and contaminant exposure.]

3.3 Pollution Prevention Demonstration Projects

There are numerous programs across the country that are intended to demonstrate that pollution prevention practices can be cost-effective.

3.3.1 Pacific and Yukon Region

Switch Out BC

The Switch Out BC Program, which is designed to reduce uncontrolled discharges of mercury to the environment from end-of-life vehicles. The program works with auto recyclers to promote and coordinate mercury switch recovery and build partnerships with government and industry to support and fund the collection and sustainable disposal of the switches. Of key interest are mercury switches used to control under-hood and trunk convenience lighting in automobiles. The program received in-kind support from the Automotive Recyclers Association and the BC Automotive Recyclers.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Commercial Chemicals Division of Environment Canada participated in the Beyond One-Tonne pilot project, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Government of Canada operations under the Kyoto Plan for Canada. Beyond One-Tonne encourages employees to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work and through their commute to work, by assessing emissions and arriving at site-specific plans to reduce them. The assessment found that the division emitted 106.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases (or carbon dioxide equivalents) between July 2003 and 2004. Respecting individual actions, staff pledged to reduce their carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 7.3% by April 2006. In addition, addressing primarily Environment Canada staff in downtown Vancouver, implementation of the Green Commuting Action Plan resulted in increased car/van pooling, cycling, and other forms of active transportation and transit use, resulting in reductions in greenhouse gases and criteria air contaminants from vehicle emissions.

Reducing Emissions from Paint Stripping

Environment Canada contributed partial funding to CFB Esquimalt, Department of National Defence, to replace a paint stripping process and associated equipment used on the base in order to reduce pollution from air emissions. The previous process used dichloromethane, which is listed as a toxic substance on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999. The new paint stripping process uses a less harmful solvent.

Reducing Emissions from Auto Industry

Environment Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection helped fund efforts by the Burnside Gorge Community Association to educate the automotive industry sector in the Rock Bay watershed about adopting best management practices that can be used to reduce levels of contaminants in stormwater runoff from automotive businesses. Rock Bay was one of the most polluted water bodies in Victoria and is currently being remediated.

3.3.2 Prairie and Northern Region

Green Team/One-Tonne Challenge

The Green Team/One-Tonne Challenge* activities continued in 2004-05. Activities in the region aim to raise awareness and emphasize the co-benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in terms of saving money and increasing fitness levels. Results from this activity include:

  • launching in-reach initiatives in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Iqaluit;
  • developing an "Options" paper for the Regional Management Team to align Green Teams with the One-Tonne Challenge;
  • designing an internal in-reach One-Tonne Challenge webpage; and
  • conducting an online survey to determine topics and information that would be most helpful to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

* The One-Tonne Challenge asked Canadians to reduce their annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1 tonne (

The North

Through departmental programs like Weather Watchers (individual Canadians who submit information on weather status and trends), the One-Tonne Challenge, and EcoAction (the program that funds projects that protect, rehabilitate, or enhance the natural environment and builds the capacity of communities to sustain these activities into the future), Environment Canada works directly with Northerners to encourage them to become more aware of their environment and take action on climate change and other environmental priorities. In addition to such efforts, Environment Canada has undertaken new relationships with local governments and Aboriginal organizations across the North to build understanding and action to address environmental issues.

3.3.3 Ontario Region

Business Water Quality Program

A partnership with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Environment Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment led to development of the Business Water Quality Program, which provides technical assistance and financial incentives to promote eco-efficiency practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to prevent spills to groundwater, surface water, and sewers. Launched in June 2001, the Business Water Quality Program provides financial assistance to regional businesses to share the cost of a professional facility review and assessment and implementation of best management practices. The facility review and assessment provide an inventory of chemical substances, identify risk areas and potential for spills, review pollution prevention plans, and identify opportunities to implement best management practices.

Increasing SME awareness of water protection issues and the region's Water Resource Protection Strategy are other key objectives of the program. Through intensive marketing and face-to-face interactions with businesses, awareness of spill prevention has increased within the local business community. In addition, employees gain skills and knowledge to enhance their job performance when Business Water Quality Program participants implement recommended training programs. Program results and successes up to mid-2005 include:

  • 46 facilities from 21 business sectors requested proposals to participate;
  • 31 facility reviews and assessments completed or in progress;
  • total business investment: $200 000;
  • total Business Water Quality Program grant support committed to businesses: $176 500; and
  • over 160 pollution prevention opportunities identified.

Border Air Quality Program Pilot

Under the Canada-United States Border Air Quality Strategy, the Business Air Quality Program Pilot focuses on reducing air emissions from small to medium-sized industrial manufacturing facilities in Southwest Ontario. The goal of the Border Air Quality Program Pilot is to motivate industrial SMEs to improve their environmental performance and economic competitiveness through material substitution and process improvements. The objective is to reduce key criteria air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.

In order to develop the work plan for this pilot, an analysis was conducted to characterize reported air emissions by the industrial SME manufacturing base in the Southwest Ontario airshed. This provided information on a county-wide and major urban centre basis and permitted the identification of "high-risk" industrial sectors to target, including an estimate of the number of SME manufacturing locations in each sector.

Environment Canada contributes a front-end subsidy of 50% of pollution prevention audit costs, to a maximum of $5000 per facility. The participating SMEs are responsible for the remainder of the audit costs. This pilot is being coordinated with Natural Resources Canada's existing Industrial Energy Audit Incentive to capture air quality co-benefits that are currently not being quantified. Emission reductions for this pilot cannot be quantified at this time, but will be available as SMEs complete the program.

The Toronto Region Sustainability Program

This program aims to improve the environmental performance of small- to medium-sized manufacturing facilities in areas of pollution prevention and sustainable development. Specific objectives include encouraging businesses to take action to reduce smog precursors, reduce or eliminate the use of toxics, and move to zero generation of toxic wastes. The program is a collaborative multistakeholder effort, in partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and is being delivered through the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement, addressing reductions in toxics listed in both the Canada-Ontario Agreement on the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy. Annual pollution prevention results and savings from the 33 businesses that have completed the pollution prevention assessments through the program include:

  • volatile organic compounds: 522 tonnes;
  • metals: 2.2 tonnes;
  • process wastes: 1300 tonnes;
  • toxics: 32 tonnes;
  • water: 241 000 tonnes;
  • greenhouse gases: 1600 tonnes;
  • particulate matter: 2.5 tonnes;
  • ozone-depleting substances: 45 kilograms; and
  • annual cost savings (total): $2 300 000.
3.3.4 Quebec Region


EnviroclubOM is a Quebec organization that encourages small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises to voluntarily reduce harmful emissions as well as their dependency on natural resources, while increasing their competitiveness. Three new clubs were established in 2004-05, in Beauce, Montreal, and Montérégie. The projects carried out have resulted in savings to the participating facilities of $1 million. Environmental reductions for the year included:

  • 242 000 litres of gasoline and propane;
  • 730 000 cubic metres of natural gas;
  • 470 000 cubic metres of water;
  • 127 tonnes of chemicals;
  • 1900 tonnes of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide equivalent);
  • 76 tonnes of hazardous wastes; and
  • 290 tonnes of other wastes.

Code of Practice for the Reduction of Dichloromethane Emissions from the Use of Dichloromethane-Based Paint Strippers in Commercial Furniture Refinishing and Other Stripping Applications

In order to promote the use of the recommended practices in the code of practice for the reduction of dichloromethane emissions from the use of dichloromethane-based paint strippers in commercial furniture refinishing and other stripping applications, Environment Canada, Quebec Region, partnered with the Quebec School of Furniture and Woodworking in order to develop a one-day course focused specifically on this code.

3.3.5 Atlantic Region

Metal Finishers

Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Canadian Association of Metal Finishers partnered to deliver a program of education and pollution prevention auditing to the 24 confirmed metal finishers in the Atlantic Region. Six facilities were given detailed audits, with another five volunteering for a less intensive audit. A formal follow-up is planned for the fall of 2005, but initial communications indicate that two facilities are making changes already. The facilities generally scored low on issues where training/education of staff was important to good environmental performance, and education is seen as essential to improve results on these issues.

Demonstration Projects

A report on the CEPA Pollution Prevention Demonstration Fund was completed in 2005. The five-year program, which began in 1999 and ended in March 2004, was designed to promote and implement pollution prevention in management activities and production processes across industry, government departments, and communities. The program completed 119 regional pollution prevention projects. Both clients and partners appreciated the leadership and expertise that came from working with Environment Canada on these projects. While the main goal was to act as a catalyst for pollution prevention concepts and conduct pilot projects, several individual projects tracked benefits:

  • 18% of projects focused on product substitution;
  • 75% focused on awareness and actions to achieve efficiencies;
  • 25% used policy development as the preferred pollution prevention approach;
  • 14% explicitly included on-site reuse/recycling; and
  • one or more of the other regions adopted 20% of original projects.

It is anticipated that these projects will result in future actions, significantly advancing the state of pollution prevention in the target areas, or a broader application under other initiatives.

Workshop with Hospital Administrators

Environment Canada conducted a workshop with regional hospital administrators, focusing on reducing overall use of toxics, with an emphasis on mercury. Part of the session also focused on green procurement and how to use that as a means of reducing toxics, energy use, etc.

Nova Scotia Eco-Efficiency Business Assistance Program

The Nova Scotia Eco-Efficiency Business Assistance Program finished its 16-month pilot phase with 15 SMEs undergoing pollution prevention assessments by qualified consultants, resulting in appropriate pollution prevention recommendations. The program paid 75% of the assessment cost, up to a maximum of $6000, with the company paying the remainder. For the 15 companies, reports estimated potential annual savings of:

  • 103 000 gigajoules of energy;
  • 7370 tonnes of greenhouse gases;
  • 20 000 cubic metres of water and wastewater;
  • 3000 tonnes of solid waste;
  • 2.3 tonnes of other toxics; and
  • annual cost savings (total): $1 115 000.

Federal Motor Vehicle Fleet Environmental Workshop

In March 2005, Environment Canada hosted a federal Motor Vehicle Fleet Environmental Workshop to encourage federal operations to reduce emissions within their vehicle fleets through purchasing appropriate vehicles, anti-idling policies, and driver training. Twelve federal departments attended, and representatives of the Government of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality attended as guests.

3.4 Objectives, Guidelines, and Codes of Practice

Subsection 54(1) of the Act requires the Minister of the Environment to issue environmental quality objectives, environmental quality guidelines, release guidelines, and codes of practice. These instruments must relate to:

  • the environment;
  • pollution prevention or the recycling, reusing, treating, storing, or disposing of substances or reducing the releases of substances into the environment;
  • works, undertakings, or activities that affect or may affect the environment; or
  • the conservation of natural resources and sustainable development.

Subsection 55(1) requires the Minister of Health to issue objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice with respect to the elements of the environment that may affect the life and health of the people of Canada.

3.4.1 Environmental Quality Objectives

Environmental quality objectives specify goals or purposes for pollution prevention or environmental control, including goals or purposes stated in quantitative or qualitative terms.

In 2004, Health Canada published a document entitled "From Source to Tap: Guidance on the Multi-Barrier Approach to Safe Drinking Water." This technical guidance document shows how to apply the concept of the multi-barrier approach to Canadian water supplies from source to tap. The multi-barrier approach is an integrated system of procedures, processes, and tools that collectively prevent or reduce the contamination of drinking water from source to tap in order to reduce risks to public health (e.g., preventing the entry of contaminants into source water in the first place and subsequently treating the source water, including disinfection, before safely distributing it to consumers). It also provides language and tools for communicating with decision-makers and consumers. In addition, the document gives decision- makers at the municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal levels a structure for integrating health and environmental quality objectives, for collaborating and sharing information, and for setting objectives, goals, and priorities.

3.4.2 Environmental Quality Guidelines

Environmental quality guidelines specify recommendations in quantitative or qualitative terms to support and maintain particular uses of the environment.

In 2004-05, five Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, developed under the CCME, were finalized, and 19 others were under development (see Table 2). Revisions were ongoing to the protocols used to develop Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the protection of aquatic life and Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the protection of environmental and human health. Work was initiated on a new protocol for the development of source water guidelines. The Sediment Quality Index, a suite of sediment quality guidelines, serves as a communication tool for the management of contaminated sediment.

Table 2: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines from April 2004 to March 2005
In progress
WaterCanadian guidance framework for the management of phosphorus in freshwater systemsalcohol ethoxylates*; aluminum; biocriteria framework; diisopropanolamine*; guidance for the deposition of organic matter/feed from aquaculture operations; marine eutrophication guidance framework; nickel; pesticides (dimethenamid, imidacloprid, permethrin); phosphorus ecoregion guidelines; sulfolane*; uranium; aquatic life protocol revisions; source water guideline protocol
SedimentN/Asediment quality index
Soilbenzene**; ethylbenzene; toluene; xylenecarcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons**; diisopropanolamine*; propylene glycol; sulfolane*; uranium; trichloroethylene; protocol revisions

* In partnership with industry
** On Schedule 1 under CEPA 1999

3.4.3 Drinking Water Quality Guidelines

Drinking water quality guidelines are established by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water and published by the Minister of Health. They establish maximum acceptable concentrations of contaminants in drinking water.

In 2004-05, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water continued its development of Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Table 3 lists the status of guidelines. A number of other guidelines are at various stages of completion, and they include haloacetic acids, methyl tertiary butyl ether, radiological contaminants, haloacetonitriles, and corrosion control.

Table 3: Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality from March 2004 to April 2005
Status as of mid-2005
Arsenicapproved for consultation*
Trihalomethanesapproved for consultation*
Bromodichloromethaneapproved for consultation*
Chlorate/chloritesubmitted for approval for consultation*
Turbidityfinal approval**
Enteric virusesfinal approval**
Trichloroethylenesubmitted for final approval*

* Approvals are provided by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water
** Final approvals are received from the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Health and the Environment

The publication vehicle for the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality is through the Health Canada website. Health Canada regularly publishes updates of the summary of guidelines.

A complete list of guidelines under development will be added to the first referenced website address in the near future to fulfil one of Health Canada's commitments to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's observations noted in Chapter 4 of the 2005 report.

3.4.4 Release Guidelines

Environment Canada is taking important steps to help improve the state of wastewater management in Canada. Environment Canada's vision is to ensure that, across the country, the release of wastewater effluents does not pose unacceptable risks to human and ecosystem health and fishery resources. In working towards this vision, recent legislative actions have been taken to address pollutants in wastewater, such as ammonia dissolved in water, inorganic chloramines, and chlorinated wastewater effluents. On December 4, 2004, Environment Canada published the CEPA Guideline for the Release of Ammonia Dissolved in Water Found in Wastewater Effluents. The guideline is aimed at owners of wastewater systems discharging 5000 cubic metres or more of effluent per day to surface water. The guideline includes standards for both acute and chronic toxicity caused by ammonia.

The Proposed Guidelines for the Reduction of Ethylene Oxide Releases from Sterilization Applications were published on April 3, 2004. The proposed guidelines recommend that health care facilities and commercial facilities that use ethylene oxide for sterilization purposes install an emission control system to reduce releases of ethylene oxide to the ambient air, thereby reducing exposure of the Canadian population.

3.4.5 Codes of Practice

Codes of practice are instruments respecting pollution prevention or specifying procedures, practices, or release limits for environmental control relating to works, undertakings, and activities during any phase of their development and operation.

On April 3, 2004, the Minister published the final Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts. The code is designed to help municipalities and other road authorities better manage their use of road salts in a way that reduces harm to the environment while maintaining road safety. It recommends that road authorities develop salt management plans and implement best management practices.

Codes of Practice

3.5 State of the Environment Reporting

State of the environment reports and environmental indicators provide Canadians with timely and accurate information and knowledge about current environmental issues and foster the use of science and data in policy- and decision-making. Indicators, reports, data, and tools are housed at or referenced through Environment Canada's State of the Environment Infobase. This site also includes resources for reporting and indicator practitioners.

3.5.1 Environmental Indicators

Environment Canada collaborated with federal departments and agencies, other levels of government, and stakeholders to develop environmental indicators in support of decision-making on priority environmental issues, policies, and actions. Actions in 2004-05 include the following:

  • Environment Canada, together with its partners Statistics Canada and Health Canada, worked to complete the first annual report on the Competitiveness and Environmental Sustainability Indicators, for release in December 2005. These three indicators, on air quality, water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions, are part of those recommended by the National Round Table for the Environment and the Economy. As part of this initiative, the second CCME National Water Quality Index Workshop was held in February 2005, to communicate progress, seek advice, and promote a consensus towards nationally consistent data generation and reporting on water quality.
  • Environment Canada also initiated work in collaboration with federal partners to update Canada's Environmental Signals. Since 2001, these national environmental indicators track human activities and their impacts, the state and quality of Canada's environment, and some actions taken to respond to pressing environmental issues. The updated indicators will discuss observed status and trends in the context of sustained use of our resources and ecosystems and of the health and well-being of Canadians. Environmental Signals are becoming a significant source of integrated data and information to foster understanding and support decision-making on environmental sustainability.

3.5.2 Regional Reports

During 2004-05, Environment Canada also contributed to the advancement and completion of state of the environment reports for several ecosystems in Canada:

  • The Mackenzie River Basin Board, a federal-provincial-First Nations cooperative forum, released its first state of the aquatic ecosystem report in 2004, entitledMackenzie River Basin State of the Aquatic Ecosystem Report, 2003. Created to inform about and advocate for the maintenance of the ecological integrity of the Mackenzie River watershed, the Board aims at improving water quality, ensuring sufficient water quantity, sustaining in-stream water uses, ensuring healthy, abundant, and diverse aquatic species and habitat, and ensuring human health and safety.
  • Environment Canada and provincial partners completed a pilot study and assessment of the application of the CCME Water Quality Index to selected water bodies in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia (
  • Environment Canada also collaborated with local groups to produce a national synthesis of the state of freshwater ecosystems in selected Canadian watersheds, based on existing regional and local state of the environment reports. Slated for release in 2005, the report will focus on the range of environmental issues covered in the source documents and identify gaps in coverage.
  • Progress was made towards continued, periodic reporting on Environment Canada's ecosystem initiatives, including Georgia Basin in British Columbia, the Great Lakes in central Canada, and the Bay of Fundy on the east coast. For example, the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference 2004 was held in Canada from October 6 to 8, 2004, and focused on using existing indicators to assess the state of the Great Lakes ecosystem components with an emphasis on physical integrity. Building on the conference, a State of the Great Lakes report is scheduled for release in 2005 to provide decision-makers with accurate and meaningful environmental information for managing risks to Great Lakes ecosystem health.

3.5.3 Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy

In response to the challenge of managing and sharing knowledge creatively to better serve Canadians, Environment Canada began work during 2004-05 on a report entitled Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy, 2004-2009: Environment Canada. Several key documents were prepared to support the strategy, including:

  • a background report, which synthesizes current trends, status, and perceptions in environmental indicators and state of the environment reporting in Canada and internationally; and
  • a synthesis of indicator and reporting initiatives at all government levels in Canada, and selected international initiatives, along with a preliminary compendium of indicators.

3.6 Gathering and Reporting of Pollution Information

3.6.1 National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides Canadians with access to information on the releases and transfers of key pollutants from industrial facilities in their communities. Public access to the NPRI can motivate industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases. The NPRI also helps the Government of Canada track progress in pollution prevention, evaluate releases and transfers of substances of concern, and identify priorities for risk management.

The NPRI tracks releases to air, water, and land; quantities sent to disposal and recycling; and pollution prevention activities for 323 pollutants, such as mercury, dioxins and furans, HCB, PAHs, and criteria air contaminants (common air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides that affect our health and contribute to air pollution problems such as smog).

During 2004, 8173 facilities reported to the NPRI for the 2003 reporting year, an increase of 3643 reporting facilities (80%) compared with the previous year. This increase was largely due to the removal of the reporting exemption for oil and gas installations.

The One Window to National Environmental Reporting System (OWNERS) was launched in March 2005. OWNERS is a secure online reporting tool being used by Environment Canada, provincial and municipal governments, and private sector organizations to collect environmental data from industry. Over time, OWNERS will be able to consolidate many environmental reporting requirements into a single, online, and integrated reporting platform, decreasing the reporting burden for Canadian industry while improving compliance with environmental regulations and increasing the quality of reported data, the timeliness of their collection and publication, and their usefulness for environmental decision-making by governments, industry, and the public alike.

3.6.2 Compilation of National Emission Inventories for Key Air Pollutants

Comprehensive emission inventories were compiled by Environment Canada during 2004 (and are compiled on an annual basis) for key air pollutants that contribute to environmental effects such as smog, acid rain, and poor visibility. These inventories are used to track the progress of current emission reduction strategies for various pollution sources, including industrial activities, residential fuel combustion, transportation vehicles, forest fires, and road dust. In addition, they are used to identify priorities for future pollution prevention actions and to support the negotiation and implementation of domestic environmental programs and international agreements.

3.6.3 Personal Care Products and Pharmaceuticals

Personal care products and pharmaceuticals are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act. Health Canada’s Environmental Impact Initiative studies the potential effect of these products on the Canadian environment and human health. Additional information on this initiative can be accessed at:


Date modified: