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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2002 to March 2003

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.

3.1 Environmental Quality Monitoring

Environmental quality monitoring is an essential function for assessing exposure to and impacts from toxic substances and determining the effectiveness of risk reduction measures. Monitoring remains an important component of the scientific work supporting the implementation of CEPA 1999.
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 253 air monitoring stations in 156 communities. In total, almost 800 continuous analyzers and samplers are used to provide air quality measurements for a variety of purposes.

In 2002-03, Environment Canada replaced numerous old monitors for measuring criteria air pollutants and supplied new monitors to satisfy the monitoring needs of the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement Ozone Annex and the Canada-wide Standards for particulate matter and ozone. Monitoring and sampling equipment worth a total of $5.3 million has now been purchased for this network under the Ozone Annex funding.

Data were also collected on other pollutants, including coarse and fine particulate matter, particulate lead, particulate sulphate, nitric oxide, over 150 organic compounds, and over 70 metals and ions. Over 15 000 samples of all types were analyzed in support of the network and other toxics-related priorities. The 2001 annual data report was completed.

3.1.2 Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN), coordinated by Environment Canada, links the many groups and individuals involved in ecological monitoring in Canada in order to better detect, describe, and report ecosystem changes as a result of toxic substances. Essential elements include 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, non-governmental organizations, and volunteers.

Projects also focus on standardization of methods and approaches, engagement of new sectors and partners, and the delivery of information to improve knowledge and the basis for choice. Working solely through the development and maintenance of partnerships, the EMANprovides Environment Canada with a mechanism to enhance its capacity to collect, access, integrate, manage, interpret, apply, and deliver sound data and information on ecosystem changes.

Notable results in 2002-03 included:

  • Participation by the EMAN Coordinating Office (EMAN CO) in the development of a common approach to monitoring and assessment of target toxics in Canada, the US and Mexico under the NAFTA-CEC's Sound Management of Chemicals (SMOC) initiative. Towards the end of the 2002-2003 CEPA AR reporting period the EMAN CO took the lead in the collaborative development of the aquatic and terrestrial monitoring components which will continue in 2003-04.

  • Implementation of a standardized set of ecosystem monitoring protocols with national programs for plant and lake ice phonologies and draft protocols for benthic invertebrates and lichens;

  • Partial implementation of standardized protocols through NatureWatch, a suite of community-based monitoring programs implemented in cooperation with the Canadian Nature Federation. Almost 10 000 participants contribute their observations on indicators of ecosystem health from every province and territory, creating a clearer picture of the Canadian environment;

  • Finalization of a second special issue of the journalMonitoring Ecological Change in Canada;

  • A national science meeting on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Ecological Monitoring; and

  • Development and testing of the Canadian Community Monitoring Network, in partnership with the Canadian Nature Federation. This is a consistent model and standardized toolset for engaging citizens and community decision-makers in generating and using environmental information to improve local decisions related to conservation and sustainability.

3.1.3 Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network is a non-urban
atmospheric chemistry monitoring network operated and maintained primarily by Environment Canada. The network’s 27 measurement locations are sited to ensure that they are regionally representative and not immediately impacted by local pollution sources.

In 2002-03, the network replaced its existing ozone analyzers and started to expand its real-time ozone and particulate matter measurement capacity to provide the background information required for Environment Canada’s Environmental Prediction/Air Quality Forecasts and to meet Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement Ozone Annex commitments for the exchange of data.

Data have been collected at selected sites on a wide range of other pollutants, including particulate sulphate, ammonium, and nitrate, reactive nitrogen species, gaseous sulphur dioxide, and nitric acid. In excess of 25 000 samples of all types were analyzed in 2002-03 in support of Canadian environmental research initiatives.

3.1.4 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) continued to investigate the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the circumpolar Arctic. Health Canada and Environment Canada contributed significantly to the preparation of the AMAP report on Arctic pollution, published in 2002, which summarizes the current understanding of the issues of POPs, heavy metals, radioactivity, impacts on human health and changing pathways in the North.

3.1.5 Water Quality Monitoring

In May 2001, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment committed to a three-year action plan on water that will better link existing water quality monitoring networks to ensure that Canadians have access to comprehensive information. Under the leadership of Environment Canada, progress achieved in 2002-03 included:

  • National Experts Workshop on Water Quality Monitoring -- An Experts Workshop on Water Quality Monitoring was held in October 2002 to facilitate a national dialogue on Canadian water quality monitoring and to share information on the current state of the science, technology, and best practices in this area. Results from the workshop show that partnerships and network building will be essential in the future. Participants recommended the development of a Canada-wide Framework for Water Quality Monitoring to provide a set of nationally consistent guiding principles related to the purpose, conduct, and use of water quality monitoring in Canada.

  • Canada-wide Water Quality Data Referencing Network -- The network, developed with support from the Canadian Information System for the Environment, responds to a need for enhanced information access. The referencing network is a comprehensive Internet tool that uses map- and text-based queries to provide access to federal, provincial, and territorial water quality monitoring information. The network contains about 2000 federally monitored sites and about 6000 sites monitored by provincial and territorial partners. The network is currently being tested and verified by federal, provincial, and territorial partners.

3.2 Research

Part 3 requires the Ministers of Environment and Health to conduct research and studies. Ministers are also required to conduct and report on research on hormone-disrupting substances. The Act allows the Minister of Environment to collaborate with others on research and sponsor or assist research studies in relation to environmental quality, pollution prevention, environmental emergencies, or the control and abatement of pollution.

Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists published hundreds of reports, papers, book chapters, articles, and manuscripts during 2002-03. The following sections provide examples of the types of activities undertaken in 2002-03.


3.2.1 Air Quality

Examples of research on air quality in 2002-03 include the following:

  • A tri-national (Canada, United States, and Mexico) assessment summarizing the current state of atmospheric science of particulate matter was published through the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone;

  • Particulate matter emissions from a variety of fuels used in a variety of engines with various emission control systems, including heavy-duty diesel-fuelled vehicles with catalytic reduction technology, were measured;

  • Continuing analysis of data from the Pacific 2001 Air Quality Study to further improve understanding of particulate matter behaviour in the Lower Fraser Valley;

  • The toxicity of several aliphatic ethers that have been proposed as new diesel fuel additives was assessed;

  • Emissions data from landfills in western Canada (Calgary, Regina, and Saskatoon), the Toronto area, eastern Ontario, and the Montréal urban community were gathered;

  • In vivo and in vitro methodologies for studying the comparative toxicity of new and existing airborne aldehydes and assisting in their risk assessment and management was established In collaboration between the University of Toronto and Health Canada;

  • Exposure research methodologies for investigating the health impacts of indoor residential exposures and traffic-related air pollution was advanced by Health Canada. The results may impact quantitative estimates of air pollution health impacts in Canadian studies that were affected by the statistical software problems identified earlier in 2002;

  • Innovative research efforts were focused on susceptible subgroups, principally children and the elderly (e.g., vascular reactivity in the elderly, chronic airways disease and medication utilization in the elderly, birth cohort study in Prince Edward Island investigating indoor air exposures);
  • Efforts to improve Health Canada’s ability to conduct valid health impact cost-benefit analyses to measure the health benefits of improved air quality were completed this past year. Development of the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool continued to be an ongoing priority;

  • Improvement and development of a National Air Quality Index was facilitated by much of the acute health effects research on outdoor air completed this past year;

  • Investigations related to long-term health exposures were facilitated by the information gained through the addition of a question pertaining to “residential history in the National Population Health Survey for the 2002-2003 year;

  • Continuing with assessment of the contribution of residential heating wood on quantities of air-borne fine particulate matter (PM25), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), polychlorinated dioxins & furans, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and certain metals in a residential area of Montréal.

3.2.2 Biotechnology

Examples of research on biotechnology in 2002-03 include:

  • Soil test systems for estimating the survival, persistence, gene transfer potential, and ecological effects of genetically modified organisms was reviewed;

  • Transformations of the insecticidal protein in genetically modified corn as it is released into the soil and, subsequently, the water table, was studied;

  • Transfer of genes introduced through biotechnology (e.g., those that improve herbicide tolerance) by pollen from genetically modified canola to its wild relatives was studied;

  • New guidelines for new substances notifiers when characterizing certain biotechnology products were being developed; and

  • Technique for antibiotic resistance profiling ofEscherichia coli for fecal source tracking was developed.

3.2.3 Hormone Disrupting Substances

Examples of research activities addressing hormone disrupting substances in 2002-03 include:

  • Release and fate of hormone disrupting substances during agricultural and farm practices was studied;

  • Effects of exposure to mixtures of persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury on developmental neurotoxicity, based on blood contaminant profiles of Arctic populations was studied;

  • Toxicity and thyroid disrupting capacity of polybrominated diphenyl ethers was examined;

  • Effect of perinatal exposure to a mixture of PCBs (Aroclor 1254) on brain intracellular signalization pathways and proteomics patterns was studied; and

  • Effects of postnatal exposure to a mixture of dioxins, furans, and PCBs on estrogen metabolism, expression of detoxification enzymes, and mammary tumour development was studied.

3.2.4 Metals

Examples of metal studies in 2002-03 include:

  • Tests on 26 metals with minimal toxicity information were conducted;

  • Pharmacokinetics and epidemiology of manganese was studied;

  • Capillary electrophoresis and other separation techniques for the chemical speciation of trace metals in particulate matter in ambient air was studied; and

  • Long-range transport of metals (specifically mercury) from coal-fired power production, copper smelting, and forest fires and the contribution of these sources to the global mercury budget was analyzed.

3.2.5 Toxics

Examples of toxicity studies in 2002-03 include:

  • Analysis of long-term trends and possible effects in humans and the environment of various organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury under the Northern Contaminants Program, was summarized and published in theCanadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report -- II;

  • Particle-bound and air concentrations of various organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, toxic metals, and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in the Arctic was measured;

  • Total gaseous mercury concentrations at 10 rural sites across Canada was measured; and

  • Mercury in three seasons in three locations in Canada at altitudes up to 7 kilometres, to estimate the total atmospheric burden of elemental gaseous mercury was measured.

3.2.6 Water Quality

Examples of water quality studies in 2002-03 include:

  • Toxicity and bioaccumulation of tributyltin (an antifoulant pesticide/paint for use on vessels) in six species of freshwater invertebrates were determined;

  • Desorption properties of several pesticides was identified;

  • Contamination of sewage treatment plant effluents with pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine disrupting substances, to influence risk management approaches was investigated; and

  • Biological function of urban streams and some streams in agricultural areas within the Georgia Basin area of British Columbia was studied.

3.2.7 Wildlife

Examples of wildlife studies in 2002-03 include:

  • Presence of bioactive substances in the Great Lakes to wild fish health assessments and caged fish studies was correlated;

  • Thyroid status in feral fishes in the Great Lakes was assessed; and

  • One hundred (100) priority chemicals and up to 25 metals were measured in Canadian Arctic wildlife.

3.3 Technology Development

The Act requires the Minister to conduct research and studies relating to pollution prevention and the control and abatement of pollution.

3.3.1 Emergencies Science and Technology

Examples of technology developments in 2002-03 include:

  • Aircraft-mounted state-of-the-art prototype sensor that is designed to detect and identify the type of oil in a slick or on a beach was deployed;

  • Cleanup techniques for the removal of bitumen from rocky shorelines were assessed;
  • Innovative oil sorbents for cleanup of spills were tested;

  • Performance of spill-treating agents, such as emulsion breakers, dispersants, and emulsion preventers, with a focus on testing new products entering the market was assessed;

  • Feasibility on the use of natural wetlands for remediation of natural gas condensates from gas plants was assessed. Gas plant site management strategies have been refined based on evidence of abatement of contaminant plumes where there are natural wetlands present. Industry is no longer excavating natural wetlands, which is a direct impact of the Soil and Groundwater Program‘s Wetlands Project (funded by the Program of Energy Research and Development);

  • Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) for remediation of petroleumcontaminated sites in collaboration with industry and academia was developed. The findings of the assessment of the MNA are currently feeding into the development of Alberta MNA guidelines; and

  • Effectiveness of phytoremediation in reducing hydrocarbon (e.g., total petroleum hydrocarbon; benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes) as an effective and low-cost alternative to most engineering techniques and traditional bioremediation methods was evaluated.

3.3.2 Remediation of Contaminated Sites

Examples of technology developments in 2002-03 include:

  • Role of sulphate reduction in the natural attenuation of hydrocarbon contaminants in groundwater and ways to enhance/stimulate the anaerobic biodegradation process was investigated;

  • Feasibility of using biobarriers for the confinement of groundwater in fractured bedrock at laboratory and field scales to evaluate the formation of a biobarrier in a fractured bedrock environment subjected to contamination with petroleum products was assessed;

  • Use of cyclodextrins to remediate toxic methylmercury in soil and water, the use of enhanced soil flushing for the removal of organic and heavy metal contamination, and the solar detoxification of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated groundwater was studied; and

  • Environment Canada’s adsorption/ microfiltration technology for treating arsenic-contaminated water was demonstrated.

3.4 Guidelines and Codes of Practice

The Act requires the Minister of the Environment to issue objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice for preserving environmental quality. The Act also 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

In 2002-03, a draft Environmental Objective Framework for assessing effects of municipal wastewater effluent was developed. The framework integrates chemical (substance-specific Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines), toxicological, and biological indicators to provide a comprehensive approach for assessing the condition of aquatic resources and identifying the effluents responsible for environmental effects. This framework will assist federal risk managers, the public, and the regulated community in assessing progress towards improving and sustaining environmental quality.

3.4.2 Environmental Quality Guidelines

A pilot test of the Water Quality Index, which reports on the overall quality of water bodies, was conducted in the Atlantic Region with participation from the four Atlantic provinces. A report and a methodological assessment were completed. The index is a federal/provincial effort, endorsed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. It is based on a suite of water quality guidelines and provides a consistent mechanism for reporting on the overall quality of water bodies, both regionally and nationally.

In 2002-03, seven Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines were finalized and 14 others were under development (see Table 1).

Table 1: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines from March 2002 - April 2003
GuidelinePublishedIn Progress
Waternitrate, flouride; nonylphenol ethoxylates**aluminum; diisopropanolamine*; mercury; methyl tertiary-butyl ether; phosphorus framework; sulpholane*; protocol revisions
Sedimentnonylphenol ethoxylates**N/A
Soilnonylphenol ethoxylates**; selenium; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofuranscarcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylenes; diisopropanolamine*; sulpholane*; uranium; protocol revisions

* in partnership with Industry
** Substance is a Schedule 1 CEPA-toxic.

3.4.3 Release Guidelines

In 2002-03, two guidelines were completed:

  • New Source Emission Guidelines for Thermal Electricity Generation -- The revised guidelines for new power plants, published in January 2003, include new emission limits for smog pollutants (nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) that are 60% and 80% lower, respectively, than the limits in the previous guidelines. The revised sulphur dioxide emission limits, to reduce the threat of acid rain, are up to 75% lower than the previous allowable limits. The guidelines align with new source emission standards in the United States.

New Source Emission Guidelines for Thermal Electricity Generation

  • Guidelines for Volatile Organic Compounds in Consumer Products -- The final guidelines, published in November 2002, set volatile organic compound content limits for selected consumer products, such as air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, carburetor cleaners, insecticides, hair sprays, and shaving creams. The guidelines align with the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

3.4.4 Codes of Practice

Key results in 2002-03 included:

  • Dichloromethane-based Paint Strippers -- Dichloromethane is a toxic substance that is used in commercial furniture refinishing and other stripping applications. Environment Canada published a draft Code of Practice for the safe handling, use, and storage of paint strippers containing dichloromethane and the reduction of dichloromethane emissions from the use of paint strippers in commercial furniture refinishing and other stripping applications on July 3, 2002. The final Code was published in July 2003.

  • Road Salts -- A Code of Practice for the environmental management of road salts was being developed in consultation with a multistakeholder working group. The purpose of this Code is to minimize the environmental impact of road salts while maintaining roadway safety. The Code recommends the development and implementation of a salt management plan that should contain best management practices in order to protect the environment. Best management practices could include the use of better salt application technologies and better salt storage and snow disposal practices.

Other key results in 2002-2003 include:

  • Publication and development of three analytical methods (for diisopropanolamine, sulpholane, and hydroxysulpholane) -- These methods have influenced and will be used in the development of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines on sulpholane and diisopropanolamine.

  • Assessment of the effects of hydrocarbons on wetland ecosystems and the development of gas plant site management strategies that have been adopted to monitor contaminant plumes in natural wetlands.

  • Publication of three national soil toxicology test methods for assessing toxicity impacts in soil systems -- These test methods were essential in the development of science-based national soil quality standards (CCME Canadawide Standards for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons). These new methods are required for application in ecological risk assessments that will lead to site-specific soil cleanup criteria relevant to the oil and gas sector.

3.5 Reporting

The Act requires that the Minister publish a periodic report on the state of the Canadian environment and establish and publish a national inventory of releases of pollutants.

3.5.1 National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides Canadians with access to information on the releases, disposal, transfers, and recycling of, and pollution prevention activities for, key pollutants from companies located in their communities.

It is the only national, legislated, publicly accessible pollutant inventory of its kind in Canada. In 2002-03, existing guidance documents were amended and new guides for criteria air contaminants and wastewater treatment facilities were developed to support the increased reporting requirements established in 2002.

Compliance promotion activities were also expanded to advise those facilities that may be required to report under the new reporting requirements of their obligations. For the 2003 reporting year, the inventory was further expanded to require reporting of 60 new volatile organic compounds to support the scientific assessment of air pollution problems and the air quality modelling studies performed in Canada and the United States.

In April 2003, two annual reports were published. The eighth annual National Pollutant Release Inventory report, 2000 National Overview: National Pollutant Release Inventory, provides detailed technical analysis of the year 2000 inventory data. A new report, Informing Canadians on Pollution 2002, Highlights of the 2000 NPRI, targets the public with snapshots of key pollution trends, information about toxic substances, overviews on managing pollution in Canada, and tips for communities. Access to pollution data has also been enhanced through improved search tools and new web maps.

3.5.2 State of the Environment Reporting

State of the environment reports and environmental indicators serve two key purposes:

  • Provide Canadians with timely and accurate information, in a non-technical manner, about current environmental issues; and

  • Foster the use of science in policy- and decision-making.

Environment Canada publishes state of the environment reports and environmental indicators and provides support for this work within Canada and internationally. Indicators, reports, data, and tools are available through a redesigned State of the Environment Infobase.

  • Environmental Signals 2003 -- In early spring 2003, Environment Canada published a companion set of national environmental indicator reports:

    • Environmental Signals: Canada’s National Environmental Indicator Series 2003 depicts trends in the environment through the use of 55 environmental indicators, organized in four theme areas: ecological life support systems; human health and well-being; natural resources sustainability; and human activities.

    • Environmental Signals: Headline Indicators 2003highlights a small set of 13 indicators aimed at a non-specialist audience.

  • State of the Environment Reporting at the Regional Level -- Environmental indicator and state of the environment reports were released for several ecosystems in Canada during 2002-03, including:

    • Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Ecosystem Indicators Report, spring 2002. EnvInd_Report/summary_e.htm
    • For the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem, a State of the Great Lakes Conference was organized in October 2002 to consider the assessments of 43 draft indicators for the upcoming State of the Lakes report.

    • New and updated regional environmental indicators were made available through Environment Canada’s Pacific and Yukon Region website.
  • Environment Canada Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy -- Environment Canada’s Knowledge Integration Directorate has prepared a draft Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy, with proposed options, that will foster partnerships among those developing and applying environmental indicators and other state of the environment reporting products to provide a better national picture of the state of Canada’s environment. Wide consultation on the draft strategy document began in early 2003.

  • Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network -- Environment Canada is leading the development of a Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network. This network facilitates the exchange of knowledge and information on best practices for the development and delivery of indicators and reporting among practitioners in federal departments, provinces, communities, and non-governmental organizations. A National Steering Committee was established in the winter of 2002.

  • New Environmental Reporting Tools -- A Canadian Biodiversity Index is being developed that would provide Canadians and decision-makers with a clear, easy-to-understand message on the state of biodiversity in Canada. A framework was developed and widely circulated through the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Wildlife Ministers during 2002-03.

  • Water Quality Index -- Environment Canada, in partnership with the provinces, has developed the first national roll-up of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Water Quality Index, which was provided to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy for the Freshwater Quality Indicator in their report Environment and Sustainable Development Indicators for Canada. SDIndicators/index.html
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