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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1994 to March 1995

CEPA Part I: Environmental Quality

Research and Monitoring

To establish fair restrictions and foster the development of new technologies to meet them, the federal government supports research and monitoring activities. It uses scientific information from these activities to verify the progress of regulations, agreements and other non-regulatory instruments. To ensure that the public has access to accurate environmental information, the Government also publishes results of these activities.

CEPA Part I authorizes Environment Canada, a major science and technology department, to undertake research and development on a variety of fronts. Five Environment Canada science institutes make direct contributions to CEPA. Research not related to CEPA is not reported here.

Health Canada also conducts toxicology research and exposure monitoring to identify hazardous substances and their adverse effects on health.

Environmental Technology Centre

The Environmental Technology Centre, near Ottawa, coordinates the federal-provincial National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Network. This system, which measures ambient air quality, comprises 140 monitoring stations using more than 400 instruments in 52 urban centres across Canada.

In 1994-95, the Centre provided air monitoring instrumentation, technical assistance, calibration materials, analytical laboratory support, and program direction to cooperating agencies. The air quality data, which are maintained and archived in a computer database, are published in annual data reports and various special reports for air quality data analysts in Canada and abroad. Working with Health Canada and the Atmospheric Environment Service, the Centre monitored eight sites for acid aerosols, which are known to cause health problems.

The Centre participated in a technology development and demonstration exercise as a "scientific partner" in the Asea Brown Boveri Canadian Biomass Fluid Bed Demonstration Project to evaluate the combustion of biomass/sludge mixtures in a commercial-scale Bubbling Fluid Bed. The Centre also witnessed the Triwaste Thermal Phase Separator soil remediation tests at orphaned sites in Cremona (Alberta) and Makinsons (Newfoundland) on behalf of the Atlantic Region and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Technical and logistical support was provided for a continuous emissions monitoring course covering the performance-based protocols related to the regulations and CCME guidelines for gas turbines, commercial and industrial boilers, and power plants. Technical support was provided to the Regions in the implementation of the National Inspection Plan (e.g. the witnessing of on-site compliance tests, CEPA inspectors training, and review of test plans and results).

The Centre (in cooperation with the provinces and municipalities) maintained an extensive ambient air toxics sampling network, consisting of over 40 urban and rural sites. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organics, fine particulates and metals are measured in the program. Data related to VOC implicated in ground-level ozone formation, are provided to the NOx/VOC Science Program. Methods for measuring polar VOC and biogenic VOC were also successfully applied.

The Centre also operates a vehicle emissions testing laboratory. During the past year, the laboratory completed a variety of joint projects, including some with:

  • Transport Canada to determine the compliance of the 1995 new-model-year, light-duty vehicles with the federal standards for exhaust and evaporative emissions;
  • Canada Post, Brewer's Retail, Steelcase Transport, and Engine Control Systems to study the emissions-reduction performance of `flow-through' catalysts and diesel particulate traps in heavy-duty truck applications;
  • Engine Control Systems (ECS) and Wisconsin Engines to conduct certification engine testing on utility engines using an ECS oxidation catalyst; and
  • the Canadian Coast Guard to evaluate the hydrocarbon emissions from marine petroleum bulk carriers while at sea and in port loading and unloading.

In support of CEPA and related guidelines, the Centre also helped to develop Reference Methods to measure toxic substances and associated quality assurance programs. For example, the Centre:

  • issued the fourth in a series of certification samples under a joint agreement with the Canadian Association of Environmental Analytical Laboratories for anions and metals on air filters, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in oil;
  • completed the first draft of a new Reference Method for regulations under CEPA for PCBs in a variety of environmental media;
  • participated in a joint government-industry group to measure the polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content of fuels;
  • participated in a study with the Canadian General Standards Board to revise the methods for the analysis of sulphur in diesel fuel to be used under government-industry guidelines;
  • undertook research and development on the use of capillary electrophoresis for the improved analysis of air samples; and
  • licensed a company to use the patented Microwave-Assisted Process (MAPTM) for extracting chemicals from samples for analysis, and two companies to use the process at large scale for environmentally friendly industrial extractions.

Under section 7 of CEPA, the Centre is authorized to conduct pollution research and develop methods to control pollution. As part of this mandate, the Centre worked with private and public agencies inside and outside Canada to investigate the properties, behaviour, fate and effects of oil and chemical spills. It also undertook technology development and demonstration work on oil-spill containment booms, oil skimmers, spill-treating agents, spill modeling, soil and water decontamination technologies, and remote sensing. During the year, for example, the Centre and its domestic and international partners:

  • completed testing of an operational airborne oil spill remote system, and started design of a new generation of laser-based sensors;
  • developed and obtained a Canadian patent for an adsorption-micro filtration process for removing arsenic from water;
  • developed standard protocols for testing spill countermeasures technology, and evaluated the performance of six generic types of oil spill skimming devices; and
  • analyzed and published data from a major oil slick burn experiment conducted off Newfoundland.

Wastewater Technology Centre

Established in 1971, the Wastewater Technology Centre (WTC) in Burlington, Ontario, has become the foremost Canadian facility for treatment and disposal technologies for municipal and industrial wastewater and residues, as well as site remediation.

The Wastewater Technology Centre is managed as a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) research and technology development facility.

In 1994-95, the Centre was involved in ongoing and new projects. Researchers continued work on innovative and cost-effective ways to reduce phosphorous and ammonia to very low levels in municipal sewage treatment plants, as well as to control and manage combined sewer overflows and stormwater discharges. Work also continued on optimizing the operation of municipal and industrial wastewater facilities, and the evaluation of innovative pollution control technologies.

In the remediation area, researchers continue to focus on developing and evaluating new technologies to remediate contaminated sites, including destroying or removing contaminants from groundwater, soils and sediments, as well as protocols for evaluating and regulating the disposal of solidified wastes.

In line with the national direction, the Centre has shifted its industrial research emphasis to pollution prevention from "end-of-the-pipe" treatment technologies. This shift includes the establishment of a new Clean Technology Centre, adjacent to and integrated with the WTC pilot plant building.

The Centre has made substantial progress in several industry sectors on quantifying the use of toxics, identifying options for source reduction, in-stream recovery or recycling, and assessing the efficiency of innovative technologies. The primary focus continues to be on metal finishing, automotive parts manufacturing, printing and graphic arts, textile, chemical, pulp and paper industries, and aircraft maintenance and painting facilities. In 1994, the Centre established an industrial waste audit program (IWAP) to assist industrial clients.

Additional emphasis was given to helping Canadian industry showcase its technology, and to facilitating technology transfer nationally and internationally, particularly with Mexico and China.

National Water Research Institute

The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) in Burlington, Ontario, is Canada's largest freshwater research establishment. In partnership with Canadian and international freshwater scientists, NWRI conducts a national program of research and development in the aquatic sciences to examine current and emerging water quality problems in Canada.

In 1994-95, NWRI scientists participated on the PSL II committee that reviewed Environment Canada's candidate chemical list for PSL II and served on the PSL II support network to the departmental secretariat; continued to address the research priorities and data gaps identified in the PSL I reports on chlorinated paraffins, non-pesticidal organotin compounds, fluoride, and several of the chlorobenzenes. Studies are also continuing on the effects of pulp-and-paper and mining effluents on the aquatic ecosystems, and on the source, transport, effects of organic contaminants in the Arctic and in the Great Lakes.

It was not possible to assess whether chlorinated paraffins were "toxic" as defined under paragraph 11(a) of CEPA because no data were identified on their concentrations in the Canadian environment. Samples of sediments, native freshwater mussels, zebra mussels, and fish were collected in the St. Lawrence River in the vicinity of the only Canadian manufacturing site of chlorinated paraffins. The only sample which was confirmed, so far, to contain chlorinated paraffins was the effluent sample, the total concentration was about 13 ug/L, calculated as the medium-chain chlorinated paraffin Cereclor S52. In 1995-96, this work will be extended to the determination of chlorinated paraffins in the environment near industrial areas in Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton.

The PSL report on non-pesticidal organotin compounds recommended that their current environmental concentrations be determined. NWRI initiated a national survey of water and sediment from 100 locations and sewage treatment plant (STP) influents and effluents from 15 STPs across Canada. Preliminary results indicate a substantial decrease in the concentrations of the various butyltin and methyltin species in water from many locations that were sampled in earlier surveys before 1989. The highest concentration observed for tributyltin in water is 18 ng/L, as opposed to 2300 ng/L prior to 1989. It should be noted that a concentration of 18 ng/L would still be "toxic" as defined under CEPA. This work will be extended to study organotin levels in fish and shellfish, and correlations with toxic effects.

NWRI continued a study on the toxicity of sediment-associated fluoride to freshwater benthic organisms. Fluoride-contaminated sediments near an aluminum smelter on the St. Lawrence River were found to be toxic. However, fluoride was not the primary toxic agent. The toxic thresholds of sediment-bound fluoride to four benthic organisms was also determined. The amphipod, Hyalella azteca, was the most sensitive to fluoride. The highest concentrations reported to occur in sediments near major industrial sources in Canada would be expected to cause reductions in the growth and/or survival of the amphipod, H.azteca, the mayfly, Hexagenia limbata, and the midge, Chironomus tentans, but not to the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas. These results show that there is potential for sediment-associated fluoride to have harmful effects on at least some types of benthic organisms in the Canadian environment.

CEPA assessment reports on all chlorobenzenes concluded that "although significant exposure of benthic organisms in sediment may be occurring in specific aquatic ecosystems in Canada, adequate data on the toxicological effects on these organisms were not identified". In 1994-95, NWRI, together with the Atlantic Region, initiated research to provide the necessary information on 1) the toxicity of the chlorobenzenes to marine and freshwater benthic invertebrates, and 2) the environmental occurrence and toxicity of field collected sediments. The toxicity of 1,2-dichlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, 1,3,5-trichlorobenzene and 1,2,4,5-tetrachlorobenzene to two species of freshwater invertebrates (i.e., the mayfly, Hexagenia spp. and the oligochaeate worm, Tubifex Tubifex), one species of marine amphipod, the sea urchin and the MicrotoxTM screening bioassay was determined. Little toxicity to any of the organisms tested was observed for any of the chlorobenzenes tested with the exception of 1,4-dichlorobenzene which was toxic at nominal concentration > 50 ug/g bulk sediment. A full report on the results of this collaborative study is expected in 1995-96.

In cooperation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Industry Canada, the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (PAPRICAN), several pulp mills and three Canadian universities, NWRI continued its research to close information gaps identified in the CEPA Assessment of Effluents from Pulp Mills using Bleaching. This program has already resulted in new methods to test effluents for their capacity to cause sub-lethal effects in fish. Using these methods in combination with effluent fractionation, results from the Toxicity Identification and Evaluation (TIE) study of pulp mill effluents have clearly demonstrated that the worst of the toxic and sub-lethal effects on aquatic ecosystems can be controlled through chlorine substitution (use of chlorine dioxide in place of elemental chlorine) in the plant bleaching process. However, a number of previously masked lessor effects are then observed which are due to non-chlorinated substances from a variety of sources including the wood itself. These results were presented and confirmed at a major gathering of relevant international researchers in Vancouver: the Second International Conference on Environmental Fate and Effects of Bleached Pulp Mill Effluents, November 6 to10, 1994. Investigations continue.

Several reports were published on the results of multidisciplinary studies on the environmental effects of metals and trace elements released from past and present mining activities in British Columbia and Ontario. Studies have been carried out to evaluate the feasibility of subaqueous disposal of acid drainage generating mine wastes into natural lakes and man-made reservoirs. The study done in cooperation with mining companies and university will continue in 1995-96.

Under the interdepartmental Arctic Environmental Strategy, NWRI is examining the source, transport, fate and effects of organochlorines (OCs), PCBs, chlorobenzenes (CBs) and PAHs. There are three studies: contaminants deposited by rivers into the Arctic Ocean; atmospheric depositional fluxes measured in fresh snow, accumulated snowpack and ice cores; and mass balance assessments of arctic lake systems (Amituk Lake on Cornwallis Island and Lake Laberge near Whitehorse). Work on the deposition and net flux of organic contaminants to the Great Lakes continues. The results were summarized at a special review meeting in Windsor, Ontario, in June 1994. The net fluxes of most of the OCs are out of the system via volatilization; only -HCH showed a net input from the atmosphere.

Canadian Wildlife Service

The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) conducts CEPA research and monitoring at its National Wildife Research Centre (NWRC) in Ottawa-Hull and regional offices. By detecting and measuring the effects of toxic substances on wildlife, CWS researchers can assess the overall health of species, predict the impact of pollutants, and provide an early warning system for potential environmental and human health problems.

During 1994-95, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in conjunction with provincial/territorial wildlife agencies and local hunters, collected waterfowl and other game birds from six communities throughout the Yukon Territory and 14 designated areas throughout British Columbia for chemical analyses as part of a national CWS assessment of the toxic contaminant levels in wild foods. Recommendations from Health Canada based on residue data collected during 1988-1992 for samples from Ontario and Quebec have been made available to the public. Contaminant levels found in those waterfowl were, for the most part, either non-detectable or very low and were not considered to pose a hazard to the health of consumers.

A monitoring study, around the northern hemisphere, of chlorinated hydrocarbon contaminants (CHCs) in polar bears from eastern Russia, Alaska, North America, Greenland and Svalbard was completed. The data show relatively uniform distribution of a number of contaminants, including the pesticides hexachlorocyclohexane and chlordane, and the industrial contaminants, chlorobenzenes, throughout the hemisphere. PCB levels were significantly higher in eastern Greenland and Svalbard, reflecting combined North American and European sources. Another peak in PCBs occurred in the Arctic Ocean near Prince Patrick Island. This peak may be explained by differences in feeding ecology in this area. The pesticides, DDT and dieldrin, tended to increase from west to east in the western hemisphere, probably reflecting the influence of North American land and lake surfaces as sources to the Arctic via atmospheric transport. The liver enzyme system of the polar bear was characterized. Activities and levels of the enzyme induced by dioxin-like compounds were shown to be high and correlated to PCBs, indicating the possibility of biological effects.

A comprehensive review of the environmental impacts of lead shotshell ammunition and lead fishing sinkers in Canada was completed. This report provides the scientific basis for the development of a CWS policy on lead sinkers, and will allow the CWS nontoxic shot zoning policy to evolve toward a policy of broader controls on the use of lead shot for hunting and target shooting. The report will be published in the summer of 1995.

A chicken embryo hepatocyte (CEH) bioassay developed at NWRC was used to provide strong evidence that current levels of non-polar organic contaminants in some areas of the Great Lakes remain high enough to cause elevated porphyrins in livers of herring gulls. The toxicological consequence of these elevated porphyrins is not known because the porphyrin levels are, at most only 15-fold higher than normal levels. Severe porphyria results in levels that 1,000 to 10,000 times normal. This research has validated the usefulness of porphyrins in herring gulls as a biochemical marker of exposure to non-polar organic contaminants. Collaborative research with scientists at the National Water Research Institute has demonstrated that the CEH bioassay has considerable potential in helping identify toxic chemicals in pulp mill effluent. Two major improvements were made to the biochemical assays used in the CEH bioassay and two papers describing these methods were published in the scientific literature. NWRC successfully transferred these new methods to several laboratories in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Field surveys conducted during the spring and summer of 1994 indicate that herring gulls breeding on Lake Superior are in poorer condition, lay smaller eggs and experience lower reproductive success than populations measured on the lower Great Lakes. Furthermore, the number of breeding pairs occurring at two monitoring colonies on Lake Superior have declined steadily in the past three years. Analysis of diet remains indicate the pairs producing the fewest young tend to eat garbage while the more successful pairs (found on Lake Erie) consume primarily fish. The availability of a high protein fish diet may be limited on Lake Superior which, in turn, is affecting the reproductive performance of birds breeding in numerous colonies along its northeastern shore. Research will continue by developing early warning biomarkers of nutritional status in fish-eating birds.

As part of a collaborative project with McMaster University, NWRC studies the relationships between the mutation rate of DNA in herring gulls and the exposure to PAHs. Preliminary results suggest that fewer mutations occur on less contaminated sites when compared with more contaminated sites, such as Hamilton Harbour. CWS also collaborated with researchers from the University of Windsor and McGill University to examine the effects of zebra mussels on levels of contaminants in fish-eating birds in Lake Erie, and the effects of feeding Lake Erie zebra mussels to captive scaup. This was ongoing in 1994-95.

Blood samples from eight week-old bald eagle chicks were obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources which had been collected from nests located along the Canadian Great Lakes from 1991 to 1994. Organochlorine analysis revealed relatively low levels of total PCBs and DDE. Blood lead levels were generally extremely low. These results indicate the eagle chicks do not appear to be exposed to significant levels of persistent organic contaminants.

Laboratory services for support of the wildlife toxicology research and monitoring are located at the National Wildlife Research Centre. This year, over 7,000 wildlife samples were processed for various analyses including 850 for organic contaminants, 5,000 for metals and 3000 for a variety of biomakers (measures of biochemical and physiological effects). The expansion of the National Specimen Bank facility was completed. This bank houses Canada's largest collection of deep frozen (-40 to-105deg.C) wildlife tissues to be used for retrospective analyses of contaminants and certain biomarker trends. The laboratory added a number of new tests methods to its arsenal including measurement of polyaromatic hydrocarbon in avian and amphibian bile, vitamin A metabolites in vertebrate livers and a method for collection of avian blood on filter paper to facilitate transport from the field for subsequent testing.

CWS Atlantic Region

In the Atlantic Region, CWS continued to assess the effects of pollution at five Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) sites. This initiative included volunteer wildlife surveys to assess potential exposure to toxic chemicals, and monitoring of contaminant levels in indicator species such as bald eagles, ospreys and tree swallows. In a joint project with the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), carcasses of dead fish-eating birds found in the Atlantic Region by the public and government agencies were collected for post-mortem examination and toxicological analysis. Fifteen dead loons, 16 bald eagles and 10 ospreys were examined at AVC and preliminary lab results indicate that many of the loons had unhealthy levels of lead or mercury.

CWS Quebec Region

In Quebec Region, studies of mercury contamination of osprey in hydroelectric reservoirs indicated that while both adults and young have elevated levels, no effects on reproduction were noted. In a similar study, no effects were observed on the health of herring gulls, mergansers and mink that were exposed to dioxins and furans discharged in the effluents of a pulp and paper mill in the Saint-Maurice River. Surveys of the contaminants in terrestrial wildlife continued: preliminary results indicate low levels of mercury in golden eagles compared to bald eagles. Research to identify wildlife indicators for monitoring clean-up of contamination of the St. Lawrence River has progressed to the point of finalizing selection of species and sites for the next year. As well, the levels of selenium in three species of sea ducks along the St. Lawrence shoreline and from the Northern interior will be surveyed to determine their saftey for human consumption.

CWS Ontario Region

In Ontario Region, populations of double-crested cormorants on Lake Ontario decreased by approximately 10% and may be responding to density-dependent factors. Cormorants had been increasing dramatically for the last 10 to15 years in response to reduced contaminant levels and abundant fish stocks. The Herring Gull Egg Monitoring program is in its 22nd year and tracks both temporal and spatial trends of contaminants. Studies in western Lake Erie have shown that zebra mussels have had no effect on gull and cormorant populations.

The mudpuppy, a long-lived, sedentary amphibian of the lower Great Lakes continues to show promise as an indicator species. Contaminant levels and effects in mudpuppies from Lakes Ontario and Erie and the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers were assessed to determine baseline information on wildlife health in areas of concern in the Great Lakes prior to remediation. In apple orchards in southern Ontario, studies are continuing to assess the impacts of agricultural sprays on the immune systems of tree swallows and Eastern bluebirds nesting in the orchards. A large volunteer project (involving 700 volunteers) is being co-organized with Long Point Bird Observatory to monitor bird and amphibian populations in marshes in all 42 areas of concern (Canadian and U.S.) and other priority areas.

Major partnerships have been established throughout southern Ontario where nest platforms have been erected to encourage nesting by ospreys, bald eagles and peregrine falcons. The populations were nearly annihilated on the Great Lakes due to the effects of toxic chemicals. Recent studies of ospreys have shown no major population effects at current contaminant levels. Birds are now nesting in some areas of concern.

CWS Prairie and Northern

In Prairie and Northern Region, a study is being done on the Wapiti and North Saskatchewan Rivers to evaluate whether riparian wildlife is being exposed to and affected by feeding on pulp mill effluent-exposed prey. This study will assess whether existing Environmental Effects Monitoring Guidelines for Aquatic Biota adequately interpret the effects of pulp and paper mill effluents on riparian wildlife.

A study on lead exposure in bald eagles and golden eagles continues in the prairie provinces. Lead poisoning is an important mortality factor in eagles found dead in the prairie provinces, accounting for more than 10% of the total mortality. However, a relatively small percentage of live eagles migrating through the Prairies show evidence of exposure to lead.

Contaminant levels in a small sample of muskrats and canvasback ducks were examined in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. From a socio-economic perspective, these species are important to residents of the Delta. Chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations were extremely low in these species. There was some evidence that the low levels of some of the dioxins, furans and chlorophenols in these animals originated from pulp mill sources hundreds of kilometers upstream. None of the contaminants were deemed to be present in the animals at levels that were high enough to be toxic. Health Canada concluded that contaminant levels in these animals would not pose a hazard to people eating them.

CWS Pacific and Yukon

In British Columbia, dioxin and furan levels in herons and cormorants from the Strait of Georgia have stabilized following an initial decline after implementation of federal and provincial regulations. Bald eagles, which prey on both fish and fish-eating birds, have the highest levels monitored to date, and research is continuing on toxicological effects. It is not known whether the continuing moderate levels are the result of past discharges of pulp mill effluents, or ongoing sources such as air emissions from power boilers using salt-laden logs (sea salt supplies the chlorine needed for chlorination of the compounds). In the interior, uptake of dioxin and furan and other organochlorine contaminants in osprey, through aquatic food webs, continues on both the Fraser and Columbia River systems. Toxicological research on osprey on the Thompson River (tributary to the Fraser) is being initiated in 1995. On the lower Columbia River, osprey eggs also have elevated PCB levels, although a specific source is not known.

National Hydrology Research Institute

Located in Saskatoon, the National Hydrology Research Institute (NHRI) of Environment Canada conducts research on environmental issues related to the integrity and sustainability of Canada`s aquatic ecosystem. In collaboration with many national and international partners in universities, government agencies, other research facilities, and the private sector NHRI participates in interdisciplinary research programs addressing regional, national, and international environmental problems.

In 1994-95, NHRI continued its involvement in two major federal/provincial research programs investigating the effects of contaminants on large river systems. Under the Fraser River Action Plan and the Northern River Basins Study, Institute scientists are assessing the effects of pulpmill effluents on aquatic ecosystem integrity and developing new bioassays for ecotoxicological assessment. A current project is to develop stable isotope analytical methods for determining the extent to which effluents are incorporated and dispersed in downstream foodwebs.

In the North, a research study continues on the role played by snowcover in controlling the release of inorganic contaminants, accumulated in the snowpack, and on their impacts on northern ecosystems. On the Prairies, current research projects include a study of the impacts of agrochemicals on prairie wetland ecosystems. To improve detection methods, a new technique for extracting lipids from aquatic invertebrates to analyze for contaminant levels has been developed.

In related research, scientists have developed a new probe mass spectrometry technique for measuring trace levels of contaminants in aquatic biota. A major benefit of the new technique is that it permits detection of trace levels of pesticides but requires a much smaller number of organisms for analysis, significantly reducing costs and time involved. Innovative mass spectrometry techniques also play a large part in another NHRI project to characterize the nitrogenous contaminants in the ground water at sour-gas plants. Results to date suggest that these techniques are well-suited for other hydrophilic contaminants, including glycols.

In partnership with industry, groundwater specialists are continuing their research into the development of biotechnological techniques, such as biobarriers, and bioremediation technologies for in situ treatment of contaminated sites.

Atmospheric Environment Service

Atmospheric Environment Service (AES), in collaboration with the regional components of the Department of the Environment, is responsible for the development and delivery of scientific information on the weather, atmospheric air quality issues, climate change and water resources.

In 1994-95, AES scientists participated on the PSL II committee that reviewed Environment Canada's candidate chemical list for PSL II and served on the PSL II support network to the departmental secretariat. Studies focussed on air pathways of toxic chemicals and on the "air criteria" for defining a toxic substance. While atmospheric levels of many toxic chemicals are very low, these chemicals can bioaccumulate to more significant levels throughout the ecosystem.

Monitoring of levels of metals and organochlorines in the atmosphere at background sites in the Great Lakes Basin and the Arctic was carried out. Preliminary analysis of the data indicates that sources to the atmosphere of these trace chemicals are both inside Canada and international. For example, high background measurements of arsenic/selenium ratios in the atmosphere were circumstantially linked to atmospheric flow from some of Canada's large smelters. A modeling program is being developed to address this, initially focussing on long range transport of sulphur compounds to the Arctic, but moving on to organochlorines as soon as inventories are available.

A chemical reaction "chamber" has been established at York University collaboratively with several partners through the Canadian Institute for Research in Atmospheric Chemistry (CIRAC).

A Canadian Global Emissions Inventory Center was established in partnership with ORTECH Int. to participate in international programs to develop global inventories for the use of atmospheric modelers worldwide. A global standard two level, seasonal inventory of SOx/NOx was developed and submitted for publication and a global lead inventory is under development.

A data base system (RDMQ) was developed to handle atmospheric contaminant data for quality assurance and control purposes. This data base was accepted for use by all the other agencies participating in the Great Lakes program.

A special review meeting was organized by AES in Windsor, Ontario in June 1994, to assess the state of knowledge of Canadian and U.S. research organizations on the net flux of contaminants to the Great Lakes. Results indicate some interesting implications for regulators; for example, the net flux of PCBs was out of the lakes via volatilization. Results also reconfirm that the atmosphere is a very important pathway of toxic chemicals into the Great Lakes, one that must not be neglected in developing management programs.

AES also has active research programs on ozone depletion and climate change which support a number of Canada's international commitments. AES runs the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC) which processes, archives and publishes world ozone data reported by over 300 stations. In addition, high resolution ultraviolet (UV) spectral data is submitted yearly by Japan and Canada to be posted on the file transfer protocol (ftp) server for worldwide use. AES is, of course, the caretaker of Canada's climate data. AES's GCM, being supported and developed by the group in Victoria, is providing global climate scenarios, and an active climate adaptation program is encouraging the incorporation of climate change into future planning activities. The major areas of focus for adaptation research are the Great Lakes Basin and the Mackenzie River area.

The Working Group on Air Quality Objectives and Guidelines met last May and has:

  • Prepared draft recommendations for National Ambient Air Quality Objectives for Hydrogen Fluoride and Carbon Monoxide to be presented to CEPA/FPAC in April 1995. Economic impact assessments for these recommendations have begun.
  • Continued discussion with CEPA/FPAC on the process for implementing the economic assessment and stakeholder consultations, and for taking the Working Group recommendations through to publication in the Canada Gazette.
  • Initiated the development of protocol documents for recommending effects-based air quality objectives to protect human health and the environment.
  • Continued the scientific review of environmental and health effects of particulate matter and ground-level ozone. The tentative completion date for these reviews is December 1995.
  • Initiated contract work for the scientific review of nitrogen dioxide.
  • Reviewed the plans for the Total Reduced Sulphur scientific review effort. The first draft of this review will be completed September 1995.

CEPA/FPAC supports the plans to review the current three-tiered air quality objectives framework and develop protocols for the development of air quality objectives.

The next meeting of the Working Group on Air Quality Objectives and Guidelines will be held in October 1995, in Victoria.

State of the Environment

Canadians need credible, timely and comprehensive information on environmental trends and conditions if they are to make informed choices leading toward sustainable development. For that reason, the federal government reports periodically to Canadians on the state of the environment (SOE). In its reports, the Government relates environmental information to social and economic considerations.

Environment Canada's State of the Environment Directorate (SOED), in accordance with CEPA's legislative mandate, is working to:

  • publish a national report on the state of Canada's environment at regular intervals; and
  • develop and release a comprehensive set of national environmental indicators on a regular basis.


The State of Canada's Environment, Canada's second national SOE report was released in April 1992. Prepared over a four-year period with substantial contributions from a broad range of stakeholders, the report has become a Canadian best-seller. To date, approximately 17,000 copies have been sold. An extensive evaluation of the report revealed that 93% of respondents felt that the Report met their expectations and needs. Drawing on the results of this evaluation, the SOE organization developed a strategic plan for development of the next national SOE report, to be released in 1996. It also established SOE networks and coordinating committees to permit a wide range of stakeholders to participate in the preparation process. Work on chapter manuscripts began in 1993-94.

Ecological Monitoring and Assessment

Business plans have now been developed for five Ecological Science Co-operatives (ESCs) comprising some 30 individual sites. The five ESCs are Atlantic Maritime, Boreal Shield, High Arctic, Northern Yukon, and Pacific Maritime. Work is proceeding actively to complete the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network which is formed of the ESCs. The Network was established in 1994 and held its first meeting of active and potential ESC participants in January 1995.

Environmental Indicators

Canada uses bulletins to report regularly on a national set of environmental indicators. Six indicator bulletins were published in 1994-95: Energy Consumption; Climate Change; Sustaining Marine Resources: Pacific Herring Fish Stocks; Stratospheric Ozone Depletion (Fall 1994 update); Energy Consumption (Winter 1995 update); and Climate Change (Winter 1995 update).

The Department continued indicator research and development in the following areas: acid rain, urban green spaces and land-use change, marine fish resources and marine ecosystem health, forest resources, agricultural soil resources, biodiversity and state of wildlife, toxic contaminants in the ecosystem, and waste management.

Effort is increasingly being focused on the links between environmental indicators and social and economic indicators in an sustainable development context. Environment Canada, in cooperation with the B.C. Ministry of the Environment, the University of Victoria's Institute on Sustainable Regional Development has begun a project to develop a conceptual and operational framework for indicators of sustainability. Phase 2 of the project will test the application of the potential sustainability indicators in the Fraser River Basin.

Consultations and partnerships with stakeholders remain an integral part of the indicators program. Stakeholders are being invited to review and comment on proposed indicators during the development process. Extensive stakeholder involvement is essential to having indicators accepted and used as "common currency". Work with the provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) resulted in the identification of a core set of environmental indicators focused on five CCME priority areas: hazardous waste; contaminated sites; solid waste management; air issues; and water quality and water use efficiency. The application of these identified indicators will be tested, using British Columbia as a pilot province.

During 1994-95, SOED coordinated Canada's input and advice to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD's) initiative on sustainable development indicators, and participated in the Indicators working Group under the North American Environment Information Initiative.

Ecological Framework

The ecozone concept continues to be a useful concept to discuss the environmental issues which affect Canada. Numerous federal, provincial and private environmental groups have published and used their own specific subsets of the national ecological framework. The Ecoregions of Saskatchewan report is an example. The federal departments of Forestry and Agriculture have been very cooperative in further integrating specific types of environmental information concerning issues related to vital renewable resource sectors. Statistics Canada has been further integrating human activity data and expanding the socioeconomic dimensions of the ecosystem classification. The National Conservation Area Data uses the framework to assess ecosystem biodiversity.

Acceptance of this framework continues to grow. The framework is serving as a common protocol to promote the sharing of information and expertise between agencies. Most jurisdictions acknowledge that they are faced with an increasing number of similar administrative needs. Cross border cooperation and consensus building is virtually a necessity for successful business and conservation plans. The application of the framework is helping greatly to build a better understanding of how to assess the ecological sustainability of Canada's resources, regardless of jurisdictional barriers. The highly integrative basis of this information is encouraging the application of an ecosystem approach and the evaluation of concerns from a broader perspective of interest groups.

Under the Tri-lateral Committee on Environmental Information, this work has been extended to cover Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation has also considered this type of framework to be crucial for reporting on the continental state of the environment.

Environmental Information Network

Environment Canada is developing the Green Lane, an environmental information domain within the Internet (/envhome.html) intended to help Canadians to make sound decisions and take action about environmental issues and sustainable development. Anyone in the world that has access to Internet may access the Green Lane. The Green Lane comprises various sub-domains of information (products, services, regions, etc.) supporting Environment Canada's business lines. It is regarded as a cost-effective approach to the dissemination of information to a large and growing audience, nationally and internationally. The Green Lane provides interactive access to Environment Canada services, products, information holdings, programs and policies. It is a road map to environmental information and knowledge found within Environment Canada, across Canada and throughout the world.

The Green Lane is comprised of eight WWW (World Wide Web) servers located in Environment Canada's regional offices. There is a server in each of the following cities: Halifax, Montreal, Hull, Toronto, Burlington, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

There are six major Environment Canada home pages: the departmental home page, and five regional home pages: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie and Northern, and Pacific and Yukon. In general, national information is made available through the departmental home page, and regional information is made available through the regional home pages. There are links that allow navigation among all the home pages as well as links to other sources of environmental information. Some of the home pages provide keyword searching.

Non-regulatory Instruments

CEPA Part I and Part IV gives the federal government responsibility for a wide range of non-regulatory actions.

Researchers are devoting considerable effort to developing guidelines and codes of practice to give industries and regulators clear directions on how to reduce emissions, effluents and wastes.

Recently developed non-regulatory instruments include

  • Glycol Guidelines; and
  • Technical Guidelines for Federal Underground Storage Tanks

Environmental Quality Guidelines

The Minister of the Environment has the legislative mandate and authority to formulate environmental quality guidelines and objectives under Part 1 Section 8 of CEPA. Federal, provincial and territorial agencies use these non-regulatory, scientifically-established tools for assessing and managing environmental quality issues.

In 1994-95, Environment Canada, in conjunction with the CCME, published water quality guidelines for the following substances: chlorothalonil and methylchlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA). Linuron and tebuthiuron are currently in press. Ethylbenzene, toluene, dioxins and furans, and PAHs are now in final review stages by the national Task Group. Guidelines for cadmium and for plant biomass in running water are at review stages. Water quality guideline development for chlorobenzenes, ammonia, chlorine/chloramines, benzene, arsenic, antimony, fluorides, carbaryl, bromacil, chlorpyrifos, and deltamethrin has been initiated. Continued harmonization efforts between Environment Canada and the provinces and territories are underway in water quality guideline development.

The Derivation of Canadian Tissue Residue Guidelines for the Protection of Wildlife Consumers of Aquatic Life is in review. Tissue residue guidelines for dioxins and furans, arsenic, and cadmium are being developed. Tissue residue guidelines for DDT, PCBs, and toxaphene are also underway.

The Protocol for the Derivation of Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life has been published. Sediment quality guidelines for cadmium and mercury are in review. Draft guidelines are being developed for 13 PAHs, and total PCBs. Sediment quality guideline development has been initiated for arsenic, zinc, copper and lead. There are assessments underway for PCBs, DDT and toxaphene as well as dioxins and furans.

Environment Canada has also been involved in a collaborative effort with the National Water Research Institute to develop a Spiked Sediment Toxicity Bioassay Methodology. This data will contribute to the information base on the toxicity of chemicals in sediments to associated biological organisms.

The Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines are proposed for use as screening levels in assessing dredged sediments in the Ocean Disposal Program. Public consultation on this evaluative process has been underway as part of the Ocean Disposal Program's regulatory revisions under CEPA Part VI.

Environment Canada and the CCME have developed a National Protocol for the Development of Soil Quality Guidelines which is currently in press. The Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) document is also in publications along with supporting national guidance documents. Two other reports, Guidance Manual on Site Specific Objectives and Application of Whole Organism Bioassays, have recently been approved for publication by the Advisory Group of the CCME. Other national soil quality guidelines currently under final review are cadmium, copper, mercury, and lead. Documents currently under review by the CCME Advisory Group are for: arsenic, vanadium, benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), pentachlorophenols, (PCPs), phenol, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, ethylene glycol, tetrachloroethylene and zinc. Soil quality guideline development has also been initiated for chromium, cyanide and naphthalene.

Environment Canada and the CCME have also produced A Framework for Developing Goals, Objectives and Indicators of Ecosystem Health: Tools for Ecosystem-Based Management, which is currently in press. The document provides guidance on: (1) the acquisition of a common knowledge base, (2) the establishment of ecosystem health goals and objectives which incorporate stakeholder views and societal values, (3) the development or selection of ecosystem health indicators, (4) the conduct of directed research and monitoring to augment the knowledge base, and (5) the assessment of the effectiveness of the decisions on the health of the ecosystem.

The Environmental Choice Program

Environmental Choice

The Environmental Choice Program (ECP), Canada's voluntary ecolabelling program, helps consumers identify products and services that significantly reduce the burden on the environment. The EcoLogoM , three doves intertwined to form a maple leaf symbolizing Canadian government, business and consumers working together for the environment, identifies products and services which meet the ECP's stringent environmental criteria.

The ECP is cooperating internationally with numerous other countries that are establishing comparable labeling programs. In Canada, the EcoLogo is being well received in the marketplace and generating increasing interest from both consumers and industry. Based on ECP's achieved credibility, increasing interest is also being shown by private and public sector procurement officials in the ECP's established environmental criteria for various products and services.

Protected under the Trade Marks Act, the "Environmental Choice" and "EcoLogo" word marks and the EcoLogo symbol are official marks of Environment Canada. They may be used only under license or through authorization from the Program.

Between April 1994 and March 1995, considerable effort has been made in reviewing and revising product-specific environmental criteria contained in existing ECP guidelines to improve relevancy (i.e. reflect technological and market conditions and changes). Concurrently, work has continued on the development of new guidelines to supplement existing ones in the following areas:

  • residential sector and home care;
  • cleaning products and services;
  • office and school products and services;
  • paper products;
  • automotive products and services;
  • personal care products.

This work will result in the establishment of a critical mass of approximately 70 significant product and service guidelines by 1996 which will greatly increase the number and variety of ECP-certified products and services.

A complementary "panel review" process for the establishment of environmental criteria for certification has also been developed. It enables the ECP to consider the environmental attributes and relative merits of products and services for which guidelines have not been, and are not expected to be, developed. This process will be operationalized in May 1995.

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