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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2005 to March 2006

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.

CEPA 99 Environmental Registry -- 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 of toxic substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 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.

Data from the National Air Pollution Surveillance network is used in the Canada-wide Standards programs for assessing trends in both particulate matter and ozone. Ozone data is used by the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program for its air indicator, while the Canada-U.S. Agreement on Air Quality uses data from the National Air Pollution Surveillance network for discussions relating to transboundary pollution. In addition, a large number of requests for data are received each year from Environment Canada and Health Canada and by provincial, territorial and municipal governments for their various studies.

In 2005-06, the network was expanded to provide enhanced coverage of particulate matter with a median diameter of 2.5 microns in anticipation of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program adding particulate matter with a median diameter of 2.5 microns to the air indicator for 2006 and subsequent years. Since no standard technique exists for measuring particulate matter with a median diameter of 2.5 microns, an intercomparative study was initiated to provide information on the differences between the common real-time measurement techniques and the conventional gravimetric techniques. To understand the composition of particulate matter with a median diameter of 2.5 microns, which varies considerably with location and season, a particulate matter with a median diameter of 2.5 microns speciation network was also established. By summer 2006, this network will have 12 sites in place. Samples taken at each site will be analyzed for organic and elemental carbon, ions and metals. The data will then be analyzed to ascertain the impact of local sources, both stationary and mobile, and long-range transport. As well, the data will be used to understand the various chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere.

Health Canada has collaborated with Environment Canada since 2002 to assure consistency between Health Canada's measurements of airborne metals in indoor environments and those of the National Air Pollution Surveillance network. Accomplishments in 2005-06 include interlaboratory and intermethod comparisons between the Environmental Health Sciences Bureau of Health Canada and Environment Canada's Environmental Technology Centre. A valuable outcome of this work was the improvements on protocols for the total extraction of metals from urban particles.

3.1.2 Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network is a regional/remote monitoring network that has been measuring air quality since 1978. There are currently 30 measurement sites in Canada, located in rural areas representative of regional air quality. One site in the United States and another in Canada ensure the comparability of measurement methods between the Canadian and U.S. networks.

In 2005-06, the network continued to support air quality programs by:

  • providing the background information required for Environment Canada's environmental prediction and air quality forecasts for ground-level ozone;
  • 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 the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (e.g. particulate sulphate, gaseous ammonia, nitrate, gaseous sulphur dioxide and nitric acid). Over 25,000 samples of all types were analyzed in 2005-06 in support of Canadian environmental research initiatives.

3.1.3 North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Under the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Health Canada is leading a tri-national maternal blood contaminant study with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mexican National Institute of Public Health. The protocol has been finalized and sampling is under way, after initial delays in enrolment due to ethics reviews at all the Canadian sites. When the results are available from all three national sampling programs, Health Canada has agreed to assemble the tri-national database and undertake the national comparisons. A tri-national report and scientific papers will be prepared based on the results of this study.

3.1.4 Northern Contaminants Program

Northern Contaminants Program has continued its monitoring and assessment work by measuring levels and time trends of pollutants, including persistent organic pollutants, mercury and other metals, as well as new and emerging chemicals, in air, water, biota, country foods and human beings. Human health research on exposure to and effects of these contaminants is being funded by the Northern Contaminants Program and is under way in Arctic Canada. The Northern Contaminants Program is led by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, but is managed by an interdepartmental (Health, Environment, Fisheries) and multi-sectoral (Aboriginal groups, territorial governments) management team.

In 2005-06 a special issue of the journal The Science of the Total Environment included an assessment of Arctic human health issues by 17 health scientists. Titled "Human Health Implications of Environmental Contaminants in Arctic Canada: A Review," the information it contains has been used by Canada to meet some of its reporting and monitoring requirements 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.

The Northern Contaminants Program agreed in 2005-06 to undertake an update on the human health implications of Arctic environmental contaminants and this assessment will be released in 2008. This will provide input of Canadian data to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

3.1.5 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

The Canadian Northern Contaminants Program and the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme collect and publish data on the health impacts of the long-range transport of pollutants into the Arctic. Their findings show that bioaccumulation of some persistent organic pollutants in the traditional marine mammal diet of Inuit peoples can exceed human health guidelines for dietary intake. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Human Health Assessment Group, co-led by Canada (Health Canada) and Denmark, has agreed to undertake a third contaminant assessment of the circumpolar Arctic, including special reference to mercury, as requested by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Working Group and Arctic Council of Ministers; its release is scheduled for late 2008.

3.1.6 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 require no electricity. This two-year pilot study was initiated in December 2004 at more than 50 sites located on all seven continents. It is a collaborative effort managed by Environment Canada scientists working with a team of international researchers. The results of the study will contribute to Canada's obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants under the United Nations Environment Programme, specifically Article 16 on Effectiveness Evaluation, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol. As a result of the successful pilot study and the need for continued measurements of persistent organic pollutants in the air, Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling will be maintained over the next few years with an emphasis on filling data gaps for persistent organic pollutants, and capacity building and technology transfer with developing regions.

3.1.7 Water Quality Monitoring

Environment Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, Health Canada, and the provinces and territories, began implementation of the national Freshwater Quality Indicator program under the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators initiative. The program includes the expansion of the nationwide water quality monitoring network to support the data requirements of annual reporting on freshwater quality. A preliminary national freshwater indicator was reported on in the first Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators annual report, published in the fall of 2005. It integrates data from federal, provincial and territorial water quality monitoring networks.

Environment Canada completed a three-year, national-scale surveillance project to identify the presence and levels of priority pesticides in selected Canadian aquatic ecosystems. This project, which was funded by Environment Canada's Pesticide Science Fund, focused on vulnerable watersheds (e.g. sensitive aquatic habitats and drinking water sources). The results of this project provide direct decision-support to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for pesticide re-evaluations and special reviews, assisting the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to measure the success of some of its risk-management efforts.

3.1.8 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 to realize the vision for the North, as laid out in the Northern Strategy Framework.

Several monitoring programs will support the strategy. In 2004-05, four air quality monitoring stations, through the National Air Pollutant Surveillance network, were deployed in the North to provide data in support of the Strategy's objectives. 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 and 10 microns, and total suspended solids. 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 particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5, whereas the Nunavut station, located in downtown Iqaluit, allows for the collection of coarse particulate matter. Nunavut has plans to include additional stations and the 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 seeks to improve understanding of ecological change in Northern Canada by promoting coordination and communication of the results of long-term ecological monitoring. The network also contributes to the understanding of issues such as persistent organic pollutants 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 monitoring programs that monitor the North include:

  • Air quality monitoring at Alert, Nunavut, under the World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmospheric Watch network. Alert (latitude 82°N, longitude 63°W) is the northernmost observatory in the Global Atmosphere Watch network of stations that have been tracking the chemistry of the atmosphere on a global basis. Substances monitored include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, chlorofluorocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, aerosols, peroxyacetyl nitrate, radon, mercury, and ultraviolet radiation.
  • The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (see Section 3.1.2): The network is planning to upgrade its Web site to acquire continuous ozone and particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 data for air quality forecasts.

3.1.9 Great Lakes and Regional Environmental Quality Monitoring and Surveillance

Ambient environment 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. Measurements of organic contaminants (including emerging chemicals) and trace metals are made in water, whole fish (top predators) and sediment to assess progress toward specific goals in environmental improvement, to identify problems and emerging issues, and to support planning and decision-making. While long-term trends indicate declining concentrations of most contaminants, some chemicals continue to exceed water and sediment quality guidelines, as well as guidelines for the protection of piscivorous wildlife; and fish consumption advisories continue throughout the Great Lakes. Reports on legacy pollutants, in-use pesticides (Kannan et al., 2006),1 including a series of reports highlighting the results of screening-level surveys of sediment quality in Great Lake tributaries (Burniston and Kraft, 2006a),2 (Burniston and Kraft 2006b);3 (Burniston, et al., 2006)4 and Lake St. Clair surface sediment contamination (Gewurtz, et al., 2006)5 have been completed.

In 2003, the Binational Executive Committee, which is co-chaired by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, endorsed the Cooperative Monitoring Initiative to improve the coordination of monitoring in the Great Lakes. A five-year rotational cycle was adopted to focus on one lake per year, with Lake Ontario being the first (2003), followed by Lake Erie (2004), Lake Superior (2005-06) and Lake Huron (2007). During both 2005 and 2006, the focus was on Lake Superior. Cooperative Monitoring efforts included multi-media (atmospheric, water, sediment, fish and lower foodweb) measurements of critical pollutants, as well as atrazine and emerging chemicals; nearshore and offshore lower trophic level monitoring; screening of Canadian and U.S. tributaries for toxic contaminants; and a multi-agency intercomparison study for contaminants in fish. These efforts pulled together federal, state and provincial agencies in a unique way that allowed for building on existing programs.

Mean values of eight contaminants in Herring Gull eggs were calculated for 15 Great Lakes sites for the five-year period from 1998 to 2002. The sites were ranked according to the concentrations of seven compounds relative to fish flesh criteria for the protection of piscivorous wildlife and a single overall rank was calculated for each site. Eggs from Saginaw Bay, the St. Lawrence River and northern Lake Michigan ranked as the three most contaminated sites, and those from eastern Lake Superior, southern Lake Huron and eastern Lake Erie ranked as the three least contaminated sites (Weseloh, Pekarik, and de Solla, 2006).6

3.1.10 Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network

Mandated by Annex 15 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network is a Canada-United States network that monitors concentrations of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants in the air and in precipitation near the Great Lakes. In 2005-06, the network measured the concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace metals in the atmosphere at stations located on the shores of all the Great Lakes. The results show that the lakes are still receptors of atmospheric deposits of toxic chemicals and that levels of banned compounds in air and precipitation are generally decreasing following the in-basin emission control of these substances. In addition, data indicate that future reductions in the levels of toxic chemicals in the water will be directly related to decreasing concentrations of these compounds in the atmosphere.

A report on contaminant loadings for the period 2001-04 indicates that polychlorinated biphenyls continue their trend of volatilizing - the process by which polychlorinated biphenyls in surface waters become airborn - out of the Great Lakes, emphasizing the link between lake water and atmospheric concentrations. Loadings of combustion and industrial by-products such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace metals have remained constant over time. Urban areas are important sources of atmospheric toxic pollutants, particularly polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the inclusion of urban data is critical to obtaining an accurate representation of the deposition of airborne toxic pollutants to the Great Lakes Basin.

3.1.11 State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program

Monitoring of physical, chemical and biological parameters in the St. Lawrence is ongoing. Data were collected on the quality of water and sediment, shore erosion, land-use patterns, changes in the composition of wetland plants, invasive plant species, and the benthic communities inhabiting Lake Saint-Pierre and analysed to report on the situation to the public. Monitoring of recreational usage of Lake Saint-Pierre was also begun thanks to the involvement of non-governmental organizations.

Six fact sheets were prepared for dissemination on the Internet and access to information on St. Lawrence wetlands and sediment geochemistry were made possible by the use of an interactive mapping application.

All the program partners also made a special effort to prepare the second edition of the public forum St. Lawrence Rendez-Vous 2006. The main objective of this triennial event is to make public the updated results of the environmental indicators of the State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program.

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 undertaken in 2005-06.

3.2.1 Wildlife

The Canadian Wildlife Service and the Science and Technology Branch (National Wildlife Research Centre, NWRC) have been investigating the exposure and health effects of legacy and new, emerging chemicals of concern on wildlife, particularly snapping turtles, mink and herring gulls. Results have been presented at a number of management and policy meetings for several Canadian Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. In addition, results have either been published (e.g. mink: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 2006) or are in review (e.g. snapping turtles: Environmental Science and Technology).


The avian, embryonic neuronal cell culture method that was developed in the laboratory at the National Wildlife Research Centre has been used as a preliminary screening tool for various suspected neurotoxins such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers and perfluorinated compounds.

Several analytical methods have been developed including the following.

  • Fluorescent ribonucleic acid (RNA)-arbitrarily primed polymerase chain reaction has been used to determine the impacts of chemical contaminants (flame retardants, rodenticides, pharmaceutical products) at the level of gene expression in both wild (Herring Gull, Mallard Duck, Rainbow Trout) and domestic (chicken) species. The goal is to identify molecular markers to elucidate mechanisms of action of these contaminants.
  • An analytical method based on high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was developed to determine carotenoids and retinoids in fish (Chinook Salmon) eggs. Carotenoids impart the red colour to salmon eggs, and are regarded as an indicator of fitness and health. This method was developed to identify and quantify carotenoids in Chinook Salmon in relation to immune integrity and disease challenge survival of the eggs of different colours of races of Chinook Salmon.7
  • An analytical method based on high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was developed to determine a class of major metabolites of polychlorinated biphenyls, the hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls in mammalian plasma. Hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls are proven, persistent organic pollutants in wildlife and humans, mainly in blood, and shown to be biological active (e.g. hormone system effects).8
  • The molecular avian sexing method to permit accurate, rapid sexing of many species using deoxyribonucleic acid obtained from feather tips was improved. The method has also been used to determine sex in endangered species such as the Piping Plover, Ivory Gull and Eastern Loggerhead Shrike with the goal of identifying sex ratios in species of concern without recourse to invasive or lethal sampling.
  • Using Herring Gull microsatellite deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences, attempts are being made to determine the fertility status of early-stage Herring Gull embryos that are found dead in the field. There is an effort to elucidate whether embryos are aborting early in their development as a result of contaminant exposure or if the embryos are infertile. Comparing the microsatellite genomic fingerprint of deoxyribonucleic acid from various sources (e.g. eggshells, egg contents, parental blood) will permit the detection of fertility status.
  • The importance of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence of the protein that mediates the toxic responses of dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls in birds was determined. This research has resulted in the development of a simple genetic test that can predict which species of birds are most sensitive to dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. This test is of some future importance: the strategies used in this discovery (and method) will be of practical use not only for dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl toxicology, but also for elucidating some of the effects of other environmental contaminants.
  • A small-scale sub-cellular bioassay was developed with photosynthetic enzyme complexes that can assess the toxic potential of freshwater sediments and associated elutriates/pore waters in under two hours. The test system is amenable to direct in situ testing and holds promise as a generic assay to rapidly appraise sediments impacted by both organic and inorganic classes of contaminants.

Substance Specific Research

The following studies are an indication of the type of substance specific research conducted by Environment Canada scientists.

  • Environment Canada researchers have been investigating the reproductive and developmental effects of ubiquitous polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants) on birds. The results of this ongoing, multi-year study were recently presented at the International Ornithological Union (Hamburg, Germany), the North American Ornithological Congress (Veracruz, Mexico), and at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (Montréal, Quebec). Four publications summarized the initial findings in theJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health(2006),Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (2006) (involving Ken Drouillard - University of Windsor), Toxicological Sciences (2005), and Environmental Pollution(2005).
  • The Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario) and Michigan State University undertook a collaborative study on the health impacts of consumption of Great Lakes fish, containing elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, by mink. It yielded valuable information on the effects in the thyroid system, vitamin A regulation, growth and development of exposed kits. The results were presented at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and have yielded publications in Environmental Research (2006) andArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology(2006).
  • The Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario) collaborated with Michigan State University on a two-year, two-part study to assess the impacts of a commercial formulation of the polybrominated diphenyl ether, flame retardant mixture DE-71 on ranched mink. A short-term exposure study was followed by a chronic reproductive study. Both studies assessed immune system function, thyroid function, and vitamin A regulation; the second study also evaluated overall reproductive success and growth. The results were presented at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conferences and have yielded two publications: Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (in press) andEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry (in press).
  • A study was completed and published on the effects of the known polymer plasticizer additive and environmental contaminant bisphenol A relative to eight bisphenol A-related and commercially used diphenylalkanes on estrogen receptor-mediated vitellogenin production in freshly removed liver cells from male carp fish (Cyprinus carpio). Environmental exposure of fish to bisphenol A and related diphenylalkane substances, depending on the structure, may pose anti-estrogenic and, to a lesser extent, estrogenic risks to development and reproduction.9
  • The identities and spatial trends of several brominated flame retardant compounds (i.e. polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclodedecane) and hydroxylated and methoxylated organohalogen contaminants were characterized in plasma collected from Bald Eagle nestlings at sites along the Canadian West Coast in southwestern British Columbia and one reference site in northern British Columbia. The study demonstrated that previously unreported organohalogens are present in Bald Eagles living on the West Coast of Canada and that there are potential impacts on the health and survival of these raptors.10
  • Studies were completed to examine the effects on aquatic birds of elevated selenium levels in streams in the Rocky Mountain foothills, the result of local open-pit coal mining. Research results found levels of selenium are elevated in the dietary items of aquatic birds, but adverse effects on reproduction are unlikely.11
  • The health impacts of the biological magnification of polychlorinated biphenyls in the marine food web, including seabirds, were assessed near a military radar site in northern Labrador (Kuzyk et al. 2005).12 The resulting effects of polychlorinated biphenyls on breeding seabirds were included in a review of Arctic pollution impacts on Canadian wildlife (Fisk et al. 2005).13
  • For mercury, research results found significant relationships between levels of certain neurochemical receptors and mercury in the brains of wild mink and otter and also in captive mink fed diets containing environmentally realistic concentrations of methyl mercury. These findings indicate that important neurochemical changes precede overt signs of methylmercury intoxication in fish-eating wildlife. The developed assays hold promise as indicators of subtle neurobehavioural toxicity in wildlife due to environmental mercury exposure.
  • A report was published on the effects of environmental metal contamination from mine tailings on aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in Abitibi, a major copper and gold ore region in northwestern Quebec. Small mammals and amphibians were collected from different sites in the area and their tissues analyzed for arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, zinc and biomarkers. Compared with values reported in the scientific literature, frogs and voles from one study site had high levels of arsenic and cadmium, and those from another site had high levels of cadmium. No neoplastic lesions were observed, but a few samples of vole hepatocytes had heterogeneous size of cells and nucleus which could be caused by metal exposure. Based on surveys and trapping efforts, the abundance and diversity of small mammals and amphibians appear to be reduced at the most contaminated sites. The results indicate bioaccumulation of metals as well as potential effects on health and in populations of small mammals and frogs at mine tailing areas in the Abitibi region.
  • The uptake and effects of chlorinated hydrocarbon and 4-nonylphenol contaminants were measured in the insectivorous Tree Swallow at a wastewater treatment plant in Vancouver, British Columbia. Clutch size and fledging success were lower and the mean liver mass of nestlings significantly higher at the treatment plant compared to the reference site. Levels of 4-nonylphenol residues in sediment and insects were also relatively higher. Results suggest that Tree Swallows may be useful indicators of exposure to 4-nonylphenol, although further work is required to determine the extent of uptake and effects of 4-nonylphenol in insect-eating birds.14
  • Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and toxicological assessments of the effects in otters in Victoria Harbour, British Columbia, were investigated in cooperation with Simon Fraser University. This involved the use of fecal deoxyribonucleic acid measurements to constant population monitoring and relationships to contaminant exposure of individual otters.
  • Concentrations of methanearsonate metabolites were quantified from mountain pine beetle populations to assess the potential exposure of insectivorous birds, especially woodpeckers, to organic arsenicals through ingestion of wood-boring insects from methanearsonate treated trees. Methanearsonate concentrations were highest in adult mountain pine beetle populations and woodpeckers were observed to forage in methanearsonate treated pine stands. The field work and laboratory investigation have been completed and a technical report has been published.15
  • A study on Bald Eagle foraging at the Delta landfill showed that although large numbers (up to 450 individual eagles present on some days) of eagles use the landfill, only about 10% regularly feed at the site, thus greatly reducing the risk of exposure to contaminants from the potential point source. The study was intended to provide information or relevance to the broader assessment issues.16
  • A risk assessment of road salts has led to more rational use and more careful storage of the material so as to reduce environmental contamination. However, a harder problem to tackle is the toxicity of high doses of granular salt to small bird species, primarily cardueline finches (so-called "winter finches": crossbills, grosbeaks and siskins). There is good evidence that salt poisoning is a strong contributory element to birds being struck by moving vehicles.17
  • The Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region, continued their investigation to locate the source or sources of the lead shot responsible for poisoning at least 1,800 Trumpeter Swans in Sumas Prairie, British Columbia, and Whatcom County, Washington State, U.S.A., since 1999. Extensive effort was devoted to monitoring the movement of 250 radio-tagged swans, seven of which died last winter while on their wintering grounds. A comparison of areas used by "healthy" swans and swans that died of lead poisoning has identified certain areas of interest. Low levels of shot have been discovered at several roosts and forage fields. Carcass retrieval (approximately 385 in 2005-06) and examination were also conducted. The investigation is a collaborative effort involving primarily the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Washington, and the Trumpeter Swan Society.
  • The use of lead shot, even small caliber bullets used for hunting small game or "vermin" control (e.g. the organized hunt for Richardson's Ground Squirrel in Saskatchewan), leads to the potentially lethal lead contamination of carcasses. This lead takes the form of fine particles that sheer off the bullet along its trajectory in the animal. We estimate that one in five ground squirrel carcasses could contain enough lead to be lethal to a scavenging bird of prey.18
  • Between 1996 and 1998, an examination of the gizzards of gallinaceous birds killed by hunters in Quebec found lead shot only in ruffed grouse (1.2%). The mean lead concentrations measured in the bones were lower than those that occur naturally in the environment (< 6 µg/g dry weight). Based on an analysis of the health risk associated with consumption of ptarmigan muscle, we conclude that the use of lead ammunition for hunting gallinaceous birds may pose an unnecessary risk of lead poisoning because of the possible ingestion of lead shot, bullets, fragments or embedded shot.19
  • Research results indicate that turtles exposed to aqueous octylphenol exhibited changes in growth rates, but the effects were transient, ceasing once exposure ended. Alkylphenols are commonly found in treated wastewater, and thus aquatic animals downstream may be chronically exposed.20


Some of the research undertaken on the impacts of pesticides is reflected in the following studies.

  • A test of reproductive function in birds is part of pesticide registration procedures worldwide. However, a review of the endpoints measured in this test compared to reports of contaminant-induced breeding failure in the wild points to a serious disconnect. It is apparent that we need to rethink how we assess the impact of pesticides on bird reproduction.21
  • Temporal and spatial trends in polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides were determined in eggs of Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants collected from colonies throughout the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, from 1970 to 2002. Concentrations of dominant organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls dropped mainly during the 1970s, with minor declines thereafter. Contaminant levels have now stabilized at low levels throughout the resident population. Areas of the southern strait were significantly more contaminated than the northern areas. During the 1980s, 2,3,7,8,-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin toxic equivalents were correlated with physiological and biochemical alterations as well as relative rates of deformed chicks. Colony-wide productivity of Double-crested Cormorants was poorer in the southern colonies where polychlorinated biphenyls were also elevated, although ecological variables, particularly changing prey-predator dynamics, may be dominant contributors to the reductions.22
  • As part of impact assessments of insecticides on wildlife in the South Okanagan, a publication reports that robins produced in regional orchards and exposed in ovo to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and related chemicals have altered brain morphology, particularly related to sexual development.23
  • A study was completed and published on current-use chlorophenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, triclopyr, dicamba, dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate, and the metabolite of pyrethroids, 3-phenoxybenzoic acid and the fungicide chlorothalonil, in the eggs of osprey (Pandion haliaetus) collected from 15 sites in five study areas of the Puget Sound/Seattle region of Washington State, United States of America. These findings indicate that dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate and dimethyl tetrachlorophthalate can be accumulated in the food chain of fish-eating osprey and transferred in ovo to eggs. They may thus be of concern to the health of the developing chick and the general reproductive health of this osprey population.24
  • Research results show that the herbicide atrazine has been suspected of affecting sexual development in exposed animals by increasing the production of estrogens. Snapping Turtle eggs were exposed to atrazine-treated soil during embryonic development. Although a few feminized males were produced, there was little evidence that atrazine induced feminization in the exposed turtles, even at application rates 10 times greater than normal agricultural usage. Similar work on hatching success and growth is continuing with ammonium nitrate and urea fertilizers.25
  • Using previously developed models, we assessed the lethal risk, both in space and time, to birds alighting in United States cropland. This analysis was done for the United States, because comprehensive pesticide use information is available for the United States but not for Canada. Also, many of our birds migrate to the southern United States in winter. In general, the lethal risk to birds has been declining in most major crops, largely because of the advent of new pesticides of lesser toxicity. The Gulf Coast region of the United States remains a problem area for Canadian birds.26
  • Granular insecticides used at planting (prophylactic use) for the control of flea beetles in canola appear to have caused regional declines in a number of grassland/ farmland bird species such as Western Meadowlarks, Horned Larks and even House Sparrows. A certain number of granules are always left on the soil surface and ingested by birds who mistake them for seed or grit. This is the first modern example of regional population declines apparently being caused by pesticide lethality.27
  • Golf course pesticides, most notably the fungicide chlorothalonil, have been shown to cause single-strand deoxyribonucleic acid breakage in small mammals trapped near the courses. The degree of breakage appears to be dose-dependent, but the damage is repaired quickly and does not appear to lead to obvious health problems in the affected animals.28
  • The impacts of pesticides on native amphibians were examined by exposing the animals to pesticides in the laboratory and in outdoor mesocosms using controlled exposures, and by monitoring amphibians breeding in agricultural areas. The research results demonstrated lethal and sublethal toxicity associated with exposures of amphibians to current-use pesticides, as assessed using key biological endpoints such as acute toxicity/survival and developmental deformities, disease occurrence in relation to pesticide-induced immunotoxicity, and histopathology. Common toxicity endpoints that can be used in the laboratory, in outdoor mesocosms, or in field exposures of amphibians were developed.


Various studies that focused on the Arctic region are included below.

  • Scientists from Norway and Environment Canada completed and published the results of several studies, including:
    • the relationships between established and emerging persistent organic pollutants that can elicit hormone-like activities (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenyl and polybrominated diphenyl ethers metabolites and other by-products), and reproductive, circulating hormone levels (i.e. thyroid, estrogen and androgen) and biochemical indicators of basal metabolism in a breeding population of a top Arctic predator, the Glaucous Gull.29
    • the identity, tissue distribution and mother-to-egg transfer of a large suite of established and emerging organohalogen pollutants and their by-products (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers flame retardants, other important flame retardants and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in a top Arctic predator, the Glaucous Gull.30
    • a study identifying and characterizing the levels and differences in congener patterns of several brominated flame retardant compounds (i.e. polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclodedecane) and hydroxylated and methoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which may be polybrominated diphenyl ethers metabolites or of natural origin, in the top Arctic predators, Glaucous Gull and Polar Bear.31
  • Scientists from Denmark and Environment Canada completed and published the results of two studies on:
    • the effects of contaminants on the health of Polar Bears in the Arctic. Relationships of concentrations of persistent organic pollutants, including new potential pollutants such as brominated flame retardants, were reported with respect to immune system, endocrine and physiological (e.g. sex organ size and renal lesions) health biomarkers.32
    • West Greenland sledge dogs (Canis familiaris) exposed to a daily diet of Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) blubber that was naturally contaminated with a complex mixture of organohalogen pollutants (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, flame retardants). The various chemical exposures were found to be related These findings are also relevant, as a surrogate of similar cause-and-effect relationships, for the Arctic's top predator, the phylogenetically related Polar Bear.33
  • Scientists from several circumpolar nations, including Norway, Denmark and the United States, and Canada (represented by Environment Canada) completed and published the results of a multi-year study of the spatial, seasonal and temporal trends, and tissue distribution, of persistent organic pollutants, including new potential pollutants such as brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated acids and metals, in the tissues of Polar Bears collected in circumpolar Arctic regions.34

3.2.2 Air

Examples of research on indoor and outdoor air quality in 2005-06 are listed below.

Profiling chemical characterization

  • Health Canada researchers completed a study of total and bioaccessible metals in vacuum samples of settled dust and corresponding garden soils in 20 Ottawa homes previously sampled for metals in air. The results of this study indicate that concentrations of certain key metals are elevated in indoor dust compared to corresponding garden soils, in background residential environments (i.e. not contaminated sites). Results using a biologically relevant extraction method (simulated stomach acid) increases the indoor:outdoor ratios compared to results using an aggressive total metal extraction. Speciation studies show that organic matter content plays an important role in controlling the bioaccessibility of metals in house dust.
  • Health Canada collaborated with the University of Washington in Seattle on an interlaboratory comparison under the United States Environmental Protection Agency Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cohort Air Pollution Study. The purpose was quality assurance for mass measurement of particulate matter collected on Teflon filters, using Health Canada's patent-pending buoyancy-corrected gravimetric analysis system (Archimedes M3TM). By participating in international round-robin exercises, Health Canada is demonstrating that its analytical protocols for particulate mass measurement meet international quality standards of excellence.

Understanding the impact of persistant organic pollutants and heavy metals on ecosystems

  • In the second year of the Border Air Quality Strategy, Health Canada continued its health and environmental monitoring activities in the Windsor/Detroit area. A valuable outcome was the implementation of analytical methods for the reliable determination of metals in indoor, outdoor and personal air samples collected in Windsor, and to address data gaps associated with human exposures to metals through ingestion and inhalation.

Understanding the adverse impacts of air quality

  • Health Canada continued to use its buoyancy-corrected gravimetric analysis system for accurate mass measurements of airborne particulate matter. Health Canada filed United States and worldwide patents for the invention. The facility housing this technological invention became fully operational in 2004 and was used to analyze over 8,000 samples collected under the Border Air Quality Strategy.
  • A Health Canada study of the effects of air pollution in Hamilton Harbour has confirmed the earlier published finding that ambient levels of airborne particulate matter removed by HEPA filtration cause heritable deoxyribonucleic acid mutations in the sperm of exposed mice. Observations have been extended to include increases in deoxyribonucleic acid damage and changes in the methylation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Research continues to understand the human health consequences of these effects.
  • Health Canada has developed the Air Quality Benefit Assessment Tool, a computer simulation tool designed to estimate the human health and welfare benefits or damages associated with changes in Canada's ambient air quality. This tool incorporates flexibility for combining and linking of pollutants, health endpoints, geographic areas and scenario years, and contains historical and projected population data and pollutant concentrations. During 2005-06, work progressed on developing and testing the application and revising the concentration response functions.
  • Health Canada has created a conceptual framework for the undertaking of a biodiesel risk/benefit analysis and is integrating peer-review comments and identifying and evaluating data gaps relative to this risk/benefit assessment.
  • Health Canada research activities funded through the Program on Energy Research and Development, administered by the Office of Energy Research and Development at Natural Resources Canada, deployed a multi-disciplinary research team to assess the toxicological detriments and benefits associated with current and emerging engine technologies. An integrated approach consisting of assessment and mechanistic validation of toxicity using in vitro and in vivo systems of increasing complexity and sophistication was used. The aim is to identify a framework for early validation of the impacts of control technologies on the toxicity of emissions, and its eventual integration in research and development decision paths and risk management. Design and development of a Mobile Inhalation Toxicology Exposure System was initiated for use in inhalation exposure of experimental subjects to diluted engine emissions and validation of in vitroeffects and in establishing dose responses.
  • As part of Health Canada's research to develop biomarkers of exposure and adverse effects of inhaled urban air contaminants in atherosclerosis and asthma, an array of complementary analytical platforms was established. This array was validated for high-throughput, system-wide screening of proteins and other biological molecules for use as markers of exposure and effects. They are valuable molecular markers/tools for population exposure and health effects screening in support of regulatory activities. Preliminary in vitro research work has provided some interesting candidate markers that will be further validated usingin vivo models.

Understanding the relative contributions of numerous sources of pollution

Canada-U.S. Border Air Quality Strategy

Health Canada is participating in research designed to gather information on the relative importance of cross-border versus local pollution, in coordination with similar studies in United States border communities.

  • Georgia Basin-Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy: Deals with the management of shared air quality studies through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and conducted by the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and the University of Washington. Studies are under way on the distribution of traffic- and woodsmoke-related air pollution and its adverse impact on respiratory health of children, birth outcomes and cardiovascular outcomes in older adults. They should be completed by March 2007.
  • Great Lakes Basin Airshed: Health Canada fieldwork and preliminary analyses are completed or nearing completion. Work includes a children's respiratory health study and an exposure assessment study (asthmatic children and healthy adults) in Windsor, a diabetic study investigating the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular health, and air pollution monitoring to investigate the intra-urban variability of a range of pollutants. Findings indicate that increased concentrations in particulate matter are associated with significant increases in markers of oxidative stress in blood. A toxicological study to collect particle and cytotoxicity data at a variety of locations around Windsor is on-going.

Understanding why air quality is changing

  • Health Canada also conducted studies to further knowledge on particulate matter emissions of Canadian smelters. The work was based on an in-house time sequential methodology previously developed to differentiate easily soluble from less soluble metal fractions. From this study, insoluble nickel was identified as the major fraction of all samples from nickel smelters and this provided an indicator of potential health impacts since insoluble nickel substances are considered to be the most carcinogenic.

3.2.3 Contaminated Sites

Examples of research in 2005-06 are presented hereunder.

Understanding the effect on human health of exposure

  • A Health Canada research study using developmental exposure in rodents to assess the impact of a mixture of metals commonly found at contaminated sites has been completed. Preliminary results indicate no significant toxicity in mothers or their offspring after perinatal exposure to a mixture of lead, nickel, copper, chromium and zinc at doses up to 1000 times expected exposure at current guideline levels.
  • Health Canada initiated research to assess the bioavailability of lead from lead-contaminated soil through the use of adult swine to identify more precisely the human exposure to lead from soil. Work was completed on project parameters including animal suppliers, animal husbandry, tissue sampling and handling issues.
  • Health Canada researchers investigated dermal adsorption of contaminated soils and developed an in vitro model using human skin and a commercial gardening soil.
  • Health Canada has undertaken research on complex mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in contaminated soils. Comparisons of synthetic mixtures containing priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in amounts that correspond to levels found at selected contaminated sites indicate that mutagenic effects, and presumably corresponding carcinogenic effects, are cumulative. However, the total cumulative hazard attributable to priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 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 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. For this reason, site management decisions based on standard screening-level risk assessments may be conservative. On-going research will validate these initial findings.

3.2.4 Water Quality

Examples of research conducted in 2005-06 are presented hereunder.

Understanding the effect of pollution on water and sediment quality

From April 1, 2005, to March 31, 2006, seven fish processing plants were sampled as part of an ongoing wastewater characterization study. The fish processing plants were located in the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The characterizations included conventional chemical parameters as well as toxicity testing of the wastewater. Sediment samples taken in the vicinity of fish processing wastewater outfalls were also obtained in March. They were characterized by various physical-chemical parameters and toxicity testing to an amphipod species. The levels of toxicity in the effluents and adjacent sediments were found to range from negligible to high. The next step in this project is the start of a formal assessment of fish plant effluent nation-wide. The assessment process will take place over the next three years to determine the environmental risks associated with effluents from fish processing plants across Canada and possible mitigative measures.

A number of projects were undertaken to determine the sources of emerging contaminants such as organo-silicone compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other brominated flame retardants in the Canadian environment. Among them is an assessment of country foods, a study to determine levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other brominated flame retardants in sewage sludge and soils at southern locations in Canada. Other studies will determine the limit for polybrominated diphenyl ethers in effluents from sewage treatment plants and biosolid substances found to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and that meet the criteria for virtual elimination. These studies provide early estimates of the levels of these chemicals released from wastewater treatment plants.

Health Canada is conducting research on disinfection by-products and emerging contaminants in drinking water. This work includes the development of analytical methods for these substances and studies of their occurrence and stability in distribution systems. The methods targeted over 40 compounds, some of them included on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Priority Substances List. Selected samples collected in 2005-06 showed levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine below 2.5 ng/L. Current studies targeted other nitrosamines (nitrosodibutlyamine, nitrosodiethylamine, nitrosomorpholine, nitrosopiperidine and nitrosopyrrolidine), in addition to 3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5H)-furanone or Mutagen X (MX), haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, haloacetonitriles, haloketones, haloacetaldehydes, chloropicrin and cyanogen chloride.

Studies continued to evaluate the sources of fecal coliforms and waterborne pathogens in aquatic ecosystems, particularly the Great Lakes, and to develop methods for source tracking and detection of these microbial contaminants in water. This work resulted in publications on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, a method based on the difference of melting points of double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid fragments. Work continued on the deoxyribonucleic acid microarray fingerprinting of microbial communities to determine batch-to-batch variation and shelf life of microbial biotechnology products subject to the Canadian Protection Environmental Act, 1999. This work led to the closure of polluted beaches in Hamilton Harbour and Toronto to swimmers.


  • An analytical method based on high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was developed to determine the brominated flame retardants tetrabromobisphenol A and degradation (debrominated) products, with application to sewage sludge. Tetrabromobisphenol A is among the high-volume, commercial flame retardant additives in current use. Tetrabromobisphenol A was found in sewage sludge from two municipal wastewater treatment plants in Windsor, Ontario.35
  • A multiple-effects measurement bioassay was developed with a hydra animal model (Hydra attenuata) that allows concurrent assessment of acute and chronic (sub)lethal toxicity, teratogenicity as well as oxidative stress biomarker endpoints. This assay is intended for use in toxicity studies of complex media like industrial or municipal effluents and contaminants at large.
  • A multi-biomarker rainbow trout primary hepatocyte test system was optimized to measure the toxic effects of municipal effluents and pharmaceutical products. Data generated thus far, to circumscribe its scope of use, suggest it is a powerful tool for assessing cytotoxicity as well as a variety of physiological stresses imparted on aquatic biota by chemical pollutants.
  • A new method was developed to isolate, identify and quantify polybrominated diphenyl ethers in municipal wastewater effluent. In support of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999regulations for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances, a reference method has been developed and validated for the measurement of hexachlorobutadiene, hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene, and the three tetrachlorobenzenes in chlorinated solvents.
  • Microbial genomics tools including a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) microarray for monitoring pathogens and other microorganisms in environmental samples such as wastewater were developed.
  • Studies developed methods for accurate measurement of the perfluorocarboxylates in aqueous samples such as effluents, lake waters and precipitation. New methods showed perfluorocarboxylates in precipitation at two of three sites, quite unlike previous reports on perfluorooctanoic acid, which could not be found in measurable concentrations at rural sites. In addition, when these compounds were present, they were one-tenth of previously reported levels.

3.2.5 Ecosystem Initiatives St. Lawrence Plan

Examples of research conducted in 2005-06 are presented hereunder.

Environmental chemistry

Urban effluents are considered one of the primary reasons for nuisance pollution and represent an important risk to the ecosystems. Urban effluents, by their volume and concentration, represent an important source of conventional and emergent contamination. Principal results include the modeling of the complexion of metal in the effluent matrix that controls the inherent toxicity and bioavailability of the contaminant, and the development of an automated method for quantifying certain antibiotic substances both in the effluents and in surface waters. The fate of certain antibiotic substances was documented, as was the level of elimination of pharmaceutical substances by new proposed test technologies that are being evaluated.


Field studies conducted in the freshwater portion of the St. Lawrence River (Lac St-Pierre archipelago, rich in biodiversity) and in its estuarine portion (Saguenay Fjord) with caged and endemic bivalves as model species, have shown deleterious effects of contaminant mixtures on reproduction (hormonal effects triggering high levels of egg yolk protein, feminization and/or masculinization, and neuro-endocrine anomalies), on immune response (immuno-suppression), as well as on their general state of health (lipid peroxidation, genotoxicity, premature aging) owing to the presence of mixed and diffuse sources of pollution. In addition to field studies, real-time exposure to urban effluents confirmed the source of neuro-endocrine anomalies for fluvial ecosystems. Research continues to attempt to link chemical sources to the observed effects so that curative actions can be taken and determine whether the implementation of secondary treatment processes could mitigate these harmful effects.

New projects on the evaluation of nanoproducts using bioassays and biomarkers were initiated in 2006. These projects will address different modes of action of nanoproducts. The trophic chain toxicity of nanomaterials will be studied using microbiotests and biochemical indicators to determine their mode of action. Preliminary results indicate some environmental toxicity of several nanoproducts or an increase in the toxicity of other contaminants in water or substrates. Great Lakes

Examples of the research conducted in the Great Lakes are given below.

  • The endocrine-disrupting chemical alkylphenol was found to be present in Cootes Paradise, a polluted section of Hamilton Harbour. Alkylphenols and ethoxylates are considered to be toxic under theCanadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Studies show that ethoxylates are the dominant alkylphenol in this water column. Sites receiving the effluents of wastewater treatment plants, combined sewer overflows and other point sources show the highest levels of alkylphenols, leading to significant accumulation in benthic invertebrates and thus confirming contaminant transfer.
  • Research at the National Water Research Institute continued on the sources and fates of hazardous air pollutants, including flame retardants, in the Great Lakes Basin to determine the regulations, etc., appropriate to protect human and ecosystem health. Information was generated on the occurrence, persistence, fate and effects of waterborne toxic chemicals and other substances of concern, including pathogens, genetically modified organisms, and effluents generated by industry, agriculture and sewage treatment plants, all of which is necessary to protect humans, wildlife populations and ecosystems in the Great Lakes Basin. Research continues to determine the impact of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
  • As part of a broad assessment of fish and wildlife health and its relationship to contaminant exposures at Areas of Concern on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, we are assessing the incidences of liver tumours in bottom feeding fish. In 2005-06 we sampled and analyzed fish from the Bay of Quinte, Cornwall, Wheatley, Detroit River, and St. Clair River. The occurrence of tumours and deformities in fish is beneficial use impairment that would lead to remediation actions. An additional component of the Areas of Concern research involved the ongoing assessment of thyroidal status in pelagic and benthic fish species. We also explored the relationship between polychlorinated biphenyl exposures, temperature and thyroid status in rainbow trout.

3.2.6 Hormone-disrupting Substances

Health Canada research scientists continued their activities aimed at understanding the toxic effects of mixtures of hormone-disrupting substances present in breast milk and human serum. Recent results suggest that a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls, p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene changed the hepatic metabolism of estrogens, and that this could be a sensitive indicator of long-term effects (Desaulniers et al. 2005).36 Early exposure to a different mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans led to hepatic changes in deoxyribonucleic acid methylation and estrogen signalling (Desaulniers et al. 2005).37 None of the mixtures induced changes at the estimated dose received by humans. Ongoing experiments are aimed at understanding the contribution of additional chemicals to the toxicity of complex mixtures, with the intent of differentiating the magnitude of the risks that might be attributed in utero from the postnatal period of exposure.

Research funded by the Health Canada Genomics Research and Development Programme has shown that suppression of thyroid hormone causes permanent developmental changes in the expression of genes. This information is being used to identify biomarkers of thyroid suppression.

3.2.7 Technology Development

Examples of research conducted in 2005-06 are presented hereunder.

Reducing the health and safety impacts of environmental threats by using:

  • 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 includes substituting n-butane for hexanes, thereby contributing significantly to the benefits of greenhouse gas reductions to air quality;
  • microwaves (preliminary application) for chemical synthesis to reduce energy use by approximately 95% when taking into account the overall energy production cycle (solvent production, synthesis, purification, solvent removal);
  • after-treatment reduction technology to determine the potential for reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions from marine propulsion engines;
  • bench- and pilot-scale optimization of anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste for improved stabilization and enhanced biogas production;
  • bench-scale optimization of the aerobic digestion process to optimally reduce the pathogen content of biosolids and thus reduce the risk of exposure to these harmful pollutants after they have been applied to land;
  • optimization of septic tank design: recirculating sand filter technology to produce effluents with low concentrations of ammonia and other contaminants. This technology can serve as an affordable and reliable on-site treatment system to protect sensitive receiving waters in small communities;
  • application of the Integrated Fixed Film/Activated Sludge and moving bed biological reactor processes as cost-effective upgrades to conventional treatment systems in large municipalities, in order to produce a nitrified effluent year-round with minimal capital expansion.

3.2.8 Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in the Environment

In 2005-06, a number of collaborative efforts were carried out by Health Canada to advance knowledge of the fate and effects of pharmaceutical and personal care products on the environment. This research included evaluating the persistence and mobility of chemical and microbial contaminants contained in biosolids applied to agricultural fields, the effects of selected anti-microbial agents on aquatic microbial community structure, diversity and function, and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant aerobic bacteria in sediments at aquaculture sites in the Fundy Isles Region of southwest New Brunswick. The results obtained will be relevant to assessment of the potential risk of these compounds in the environment and contribute to the development of new environmental assessment regulations for substances in Food and Drugs Act products currently underway.

Currently, there is limited understanding of the ecological implications of pharmaceutical and personal care products. Pharmaceuticals and broad-spectrum antibiotics have been widely detected in the natural environment; they enter ecosystems in runoff and in the discharge of treated sewage effluent into aquatic water bodies.

Studies were undertaken to gain a better understanding of the effects of pharmaceutical compounds, present in treated sewage effluent, on the microbial ecology of the Wascana Creek/Qu'Appelle River system. Evaluations were made of in situ bacterial and algal production and biomass, microbial biodiversity and physiological state at sites downstream of the city of Regina's sewage treatment plant. Creek water was monitored (upstream and downstream from the sewage treatment plant) to investigate concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Trimethoprim was present in the highest concentration (90 ng/L) at Site 2 (0.4 km downstream of the Regina sewage treatment plant), with concentrations gradually decreasing until the last sampling site located 104 km downstream of the sewage treatment plant, where none was detected.

In an additional study salicylic acid, ibuprofen, gemfibrozil, naproxen, triclosan, ketoprofen, diclofenac, and indomethacin were all detected in all the influent and most effluent samples taken from a wastewater treatment plant. Currently, there is very limited understanding of the ecological implications. Studies were also performed in rotating annular bioreactors to assess the impact of pharmaceuticals on river biofilms.

Even at only 10 ppb, pharmaceuticals appeared to exhibit both nutrient-like and toxic effects on the microbial communities in these aquatic systems.

A gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method has been developed for the determination of selected acidic and neutral pharmaceutical products in sewage influent and roughly primary-treated effluent at the ng/L level. Results show that physical and chemical processes at wastewater treatment plants remove little of the studied pharmaceuticals. Pilot studies were conducted to test three different types of wastewater disinfection processes (ultraviolet radiation, performic acid, and ozonation) on the removal efficiency for those substances. Ozonation appears to be more effective in removing the detected substances in wastewaters than either ultraviolet radiation or performic acid treatments. New metabolites emerging from disinfection treatments, however, remain unknown.

More than 2,000 groundwater and surface-water samples provided by the Department of Defense, Environment Canada, the provinces and other agencies were analyzed. Sampling efforts addressed areas where perchlorate contamination was of potential concern: military installations, mining, sectors using sodium chlorate, firework displays and arid areas. Perchlorate was not detected at concentrations > 6 µg/L (Health Canada's proposed guideline) in drinking water, but it was observed to exceed this level in areas where specific point sources of perchlorate were identified. The evolving science on this issue continues to be monitored and the survey results will serve to add to our understanding of perchlorate as a contaminant in Canada.

3.3 Pollution Prevention Demonstration Projects

There are numerous programs across the country that are intended to enable Environment Canada to demonstrate that pollution prevention practices can be achieved at work and in everyday lives. Examples of regional pollution prevention actions are listed in the following sections.

3.3.1 Pacific and Yukon Region

Whitehorse Community Challenge

The Whitehorse Community Challenge received funding from Environment Canada to focus on energy efficiency and waste reduction activities. Organizers conducted free waste assessments for local businesses and created a "Welcome to Whitehorse" package for new residents that included information on waste diversion programs, active transportation, and greenhouse gas reduction. The community also offered do-it-yourself workshops with free instructions and consultations on home renovations, EnergySTAR products, heating source options, and landscaping to increase home energy efficiency.

3.3.2 Prairie and Northern Region

Town of Morden and Winkler

The Town of Morden and Winkler in Manitoba received funding from Environment Canada and the province of Manitoba's Climate Change Community Challenge initiative to develop environmentally sustainable capital projects and encourage citizens to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They worked with community councils to develop a strategic action plan to retrofit public facilities. The Town of Morden initiated a geothermal heat pump retrofit for the fire hall and retrofitted municipal buildings with energy efficient lighting and programmable thermostats. This initiative was successful in decreasing the amount of energy required to operate municipal structures and in raising awareness for such actions throughout the community.

The North

Through departmental programs like Weather Watchers (i.e. individual Canadians submit information on weather status and trends), the One-Tonne Challenge, and EcoAction program (projects to protect, rehabilitate or enhance the natural environment and build the capacity of communities to sustain these activities into the future), Environment Canada works directly with Northerners to encourage them to act 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.

The occurrence, trends and pathways of contaminants in the Arctic were discussed in a special issue of the journal The Science of the Total Environment, with an additional special issue dealing with contaminants in fish, wildlife and humans in this area.

3.3.3 Ontario Region

Don Valley West Community Challenge

In Ontario, the Don Valley West Community Challenge worked with the local utility, Enbridge, to deliver the TAPS program (Take Action with Programs for Savings). This program targets homeowners to turn down their hotwater tanks, install aerators in faucets, pipe-wrap hot and cold water lines, replace showerheads with a low-flow model and install compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Through this program, 600 homes in the community were successfully retrofitted.

Business Air Quality Program Pilot

The goal of the Business Air Quality Program pilot is to motivate small and medium-sized enterprises in the industrial manufacturing sector to implement voluntary and beyond-compliance best practices, as a way 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.

Delivered under the Canada-United States Border Air Quality Strategy, the Business Air Quality Program pilot focuses on reducing air emissions from industrial small and medium-sized enterprises in southwestern Ontario. In March 2006, an agreement was reached with the Ag Energy Co-operative to partner on their Demand Side Management Program. This involves conducting energy audits at selected greenhouse facilities in southwestern Ontario, in support of emissions reductions under the Border Air Quality Strategy. This program is supported by The Ontario Greenhouse Alliance which represents flower and vegetable growers, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Hydro One, Enbridge, Union Gas, Ontario Power Authority and The Cecil Delworth Foundation. The Rural Economic Development Program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is also providing financial support.

Environment Canada contributed a front-end subsidy of 50% of pollution prevention audit costs, to a maximum of $5,000 per facility. The participating small and medium-sized enterprises are responsible for the remainder of the audit costs. This pilot is also being coordinated with Natural Resources Canada's existing Industrial Energy Audit Incentive to capture air quality co-benefits that are currently not being quantified. Over 20 facilities are participating in the program, which has now been extended to March 2007.

Burn It Smart

In Ontario, 18 Burn It Smart workshops were held to help professional contractors and the general public to identify ways to reduce the impacts of residential wood burning. An additional 10 workshops were held for First Nations communities in Ontario. The Burn It Smart campaign was presented at a number of public events, including the Cottage Life Show and International Plow Match, to reach and educate the local public outside the workshop format.

Retail partnerships were established with Home Depot and Home Hardware. Home Depot had Burn It Smart events at six of their locations in Ontario. The events were a great success, with customers continuing to ask for their return. Burn It Smart information was also provided at a national meeting for Home Hardware retailers from across the country.

The campaign also produced new educational material, including a DVD containing three videos on Environmental Protection Agency approved woodstoves, firewood preparation and woodstove operation. This DVD has been well received, with retailers offering it in their stores and the United States Environmental Protection Agency using it in their education campaigns.

Through ongoing collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy, Burn It Smart workshops were provided to local citizens in border towns in the states of New York, Wisconsin and Michigan, and also to Native Americans.

A number of research projects were undertaken in conjunction with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association in the United States, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to characterize emissions from wax firelogs and to determine emission factor verifications for conventional wood stoves.

The Toronto Region Sustainability Program

This Greater Toronto Area-based program is aimed at advancing the environmental performance of small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing sector in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainable development. It addresses reductions in toxic substances listed in both the Canada-Ontario Agreement on the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy.

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, multi-stakeholder effort, in partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and local and provincial governments. Small and medium-sized enterprises have seen a real value in the Toronto Region Sustainability Program, where all three levels of government have identified their priorities for action. For small and medium-sized enterprises, pollution prevention opportunities have brought significant returns on investment, cost savings, reduced risk of non-compliance that could be followed by enforcement actions, and better marketing opportunities.

In the first five years of the program, 44 of the 56 participating facilities have completed pollution prevention assessments, which represent the following identified annual pollution prevention results and savings:

Toronto Region Sustainability Program Annual Pollution Prevention Reductions and Savings

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): 618 tonnes
Metals: 2 200 kilograms
Hazardous wastes: 1 394 tonnes
Toxic substances: 32 000 kilograms
Water: 327 478 tonnes
Greenhouse gases (GHGs): 1 673 tonnes
Particulate matter (PM < 10): 15.4 tonnes
Generic waste diversion (to recycling): 49 512 tonnes
Mercury waste diversion (to recycling): 5 044 grams
Average cost savings (per SME): > $70,000

EcoSchools: Resources for Schools

Ontario EcoSchools is a voluntary environmental education program that addresses both how the schools are run and what students learn. It has been designed collaboratively by school boards for school boards, with input from federal, provincial and municipal governments, to incorporate environmental education and environmentally responsible action into the school setting. The program aims to influence young people during a formative period of life and to have an exponential impact as children take a culture of conservation home with them.

Comprehensive guides have been developed to reduce energy use, minimize waste and design environmentally friendly school grounds. In addition, Ontario curriculum expectations that relate to climate change have been identified and elementary and secondary teaching resources have been developed for grades 1 to 12. The program focus is unique in that no other environmental education program actively involves both curriculum and facilities departments.

In 2005-06, 108 schools in six school boards were in various stages of implementing the EcoSchools program. Measurable successes include that on average, certified EcoSchools use 12% less electricity and 7% less natural gas than comparable non-certified EcoSchools (Toronto District School Board Energy Management Program Review, 2006).38

The program is designed to be replicated across all Ontario boards, and has the potential to be exported to other provinces and/or territories with appropriate curriculum modifications.

Ontario Snow Resorts Association Environmental Best Practices Task Force

Through a cooperative partnership, the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, Environment Canada and the Ontario Snow Resorts Association have been actively promoting environmental best practices to the Ontario Snow Resorts Association membership since 2003, through the creation of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association Environmental Best Practices Task force. This task force serves as a forum on issues related to pollution prevention, where ski resort operators can exchange information on best practices and work collaboratively with one another and with other partners to prevent pollution locally and regionally. The task force has developed an action plan that reflects the environmental priorities of ski resorts across Ontario whose scope encompasses the four-season reality of ski resort operations. The Blue Mountain and Osler Bluff ski resorts have been leaders in the industry, demonstrating that the recommendations in the handbook are realistic and achievable for both large and small facilities. They are both realizing reductions in energy consumption, solid waste, maintenance and operating expenses and are implementing green procurement in all areas of their facilities.

CleanMarine Eco-Rating Program

The CleanMarine Eco-Rating Program is an environmental best management practices initiative to assist marina operators and managers become more sustainable by implementing initiatives and policies designed to protect the environment. It was developed by the CleanMarine Partnership in 1997.

The CleanMarine program is led by the Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA: with input and support from the CleanMarine Partnership, which includes representatives from Environment Canada, Ontario Ministry of Environment, Ontario Sailing Association, Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association, Ontario Boating Forum, Federation of Ontario Cottager Associations, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and TerraChoice Environmental Marketing.

When the partnership was formed, information was compiled and developed into a resource tool that marina managers could use to assist them in protecting the environment and better managing their businesses. An audit is conducted by a third party to verify the initiatives implemented. The audit report provides the marinas with the information they require to help them improve their operations and it acknowledges the initiatives that they performed well. Re-audits are conducted every four years to encourage continuous improvement and ensure marinas continue to operate at the rating level initially awarded. As of March 2006, 248 marinas throughout Ontario had been audited.

Marina owners and managers have improved their business practices, reduced their impact on water resources, increased energy efficiency, managed natural habitats better and participated in community environmental projects, reduced solid waste and associated costs, reduced use of toxic substances, decreased risks of an environmental emergency, increased recycling of waste and prevented pollution. In 2005, over 1,000 tonnes of plastic shrink wrap was collected from participating marinas in Ontario and recycled instead of being landfilled.

Greening Retail

The goal of the Greening Retail program is to provide retailers with specific tools, strategies, and programs to improve their energy efficiency and environmental performance, and to play a major part in the transformation of society towards improving the environment. The project will demonstrate to retailers that undertaking these initiatives can enhance their bottom line and thus makes good business sense. All stakeholders associated with the retail industry will be engaged, starting with manufacturers and distributors, then to the retail developer or property manager, and ending with the consumer.

Identifying the Greening Retail opportunity for Canadian retailers is phase 1 of a three-part project that was initiated and completed in 2005-06. Research conducted in phase 1 confirmed the initial premise of Greening Retail: that retailers can profit from the implementation of good environmental practices and that leading retailers are embracing them. However, the research also indicated that the adoption of best practices is not yet pervasive in the sector. Discussions with leading retailers indicated that there is a need to support retailers with industry guidelines and detailed information to assist in the adoption of best practices in environmental management. Canadian retailers employ 12% of the Canadian workforce, generate $368 billion in annual sales and are primarily small or medium-sized enterprises. In 2002, retail facilities and their suppliers were responsible for 39 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

3.3.4 Quebec Region

Centre québécois d'actions sur les changements climatiques

In the fall of 2005, the Quebec Public and Education Outreach Hub launched the Cocktail Transport campaign to promote sustainable transportation. This province-wide initiative encouraged people to opt for alternate modes of transportation and to carpool to work. Baseline and follow-up research indicated that two million people were reached through various marketing channels: Web site, radio, newspapers, posters, bus panels and roadside advertising. Incentives such as free bicycles and free transit passes were used to encourage participation in the campaign.


EnviroclubOM is a Quebec organization that encourages small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing sector to voluntarily reduce harmful emissions and lessen their dependency on natural resources while increasing their competitiveness. From the start of the program (2000) to March 2006, 14 Enviroclubs involving 168 small and medium-sized enterprises had been established. This resulted in $11.7 million invested in environmental projects, of which $2.9 million came from the federal government and $8.8 million from the private sector. The average payback period for these projects was one year and the total recurrent annual savings are estimated at $10.6 million. On the environmental front, these pollution prevention projects yielded net savings of 165,000 gigajoules/year, equivalent to 27,000 barrels of oil, a reduction of 800 tonnes of toxic substances, a decrease of 17,000 tonnes of wastes, and a reduction of 29,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent - comparable to the annual emissions of 6,200 cars. Added to the economic and environmental benefits generated by the Enviroclub program were the social ones: Enviroclub members become acquainted with pollution prevention concepts via the four days of mandatory training for all participating small and medium-sized enterprises.

Along with the Enviroclub program, the Quebec Environmental Protection Activities Branch promotes innovative technological solutions to improve environmental performance. There are currently 38 ongoing environmental technology projects in Quebec, while 21 have been completed. These projects have been in the areas of atmospheric emissions, climate change, wastes, toxics, wastewater, soil and groundwater decontamination, and energy. The immediate impacts of these technologies were in reduced atmospheric emissions, reduced water use, reduced water pollution, rehabilitation of brownfields, reduced material consumption, reduction and reclamation of wastes, reduced energy consumption, and reduction and disposal of toxic substances and hazardous wastes. These 59 projects totalled $56 million in investments, of which $18 million came from a variety of federal programs from several departments and agencies (National Research Council of Canada, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada). The remaining $38 million in investment came from the private sector.

Residential wood heating

The air quality station, in operation since 1998 in a Montréal residential neighborhood impacted by wood heating, has allowed linking its use to a reduction in air quality. In January 2006, a new station was added to the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network in a residential area near Québec that is also impacted by residential wood heating. This second station should allow confirmation of the trend.

Initial data analyses of the new data are planned for 2007-08.

A Model Municipal By-Law to regulate wood heating appliances has been made available to municipalities in June 2006. The model by-law is a tool box to be used by a municipality wishing to develop and put in place a municipal by-law to regulate wood heating appliances. It is intended to be used by municipalities that experience air quality problems because of residential wood combustion.

3.3.5 Atlantic Region

A Bright Idea: Prince Edward Island, Climate Change Hub

A Bright Idea is an energy-saving campaign that ran in the winter of 2006 to educate homeowners about energy efficiency and climate change. Across Prince Edward Island, 94 homeowners were selected to have their homes retrofitted with up to 20 compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Pre- and post-campaign measurements conducted by Maritime Electric demonstrated that once the 1,730 compact fluorescent lightbulbs were installed, a total of 820,000 kilowatts were saved, amounting to an annual reduction of 61 tonnes of greenhouse gases. For homeowners, this resulted in a total annual savings of $8,200.

3.4 Objectives, Guidelines, and Codes of Practice

Pursuant to subsection 54(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Minister of the Environment shall issue environmental quality objectives, environmental quality guidelines, release guidelines, and codes of practice. These instruments shall 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.

Pursuant to subsection 55(1) of the Act, the Minister of Health shall 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 Guidelines

Environmental Quality Guidelines specify recommendations in quantitative or qualitative terms to support and maintain particular uses of the environment, such as protection of aquatic life, and land uses, including agricultural, industrial, commercial, and residential/parkland. Environmental Quality Guidelines are used to help interpret monitoring data and assess contaminated sites and are an integral part of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators by providing a means of consistent comparison.

In 2005-06, six Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, developed under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, were finalized. Also completed were revisions to the Protocol for the derivation of Soil Quality Guidelines for the protection of environmental and human health. Thirteen other Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines were under development (see Table 1). Revisions were ongoing to the protocol used to develop Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the protection of aquatic life and to the Sediment Quality Index, a communication tool for the management of contaminated sediment that uses a suite of Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines.

During this reporting period, Environment Canada also provided six training sessions on the derivation and implementation of Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the protection of aquatic life to government, industry and academia.

3.4.2 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 2005-06, Health Canada continued to work in collaboration with the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water to develop the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

Table 1: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines from March 2005 to April 2006
Waterbiocriteria framework; diisopropanolamine;*** permethrin; sulfolane* **alcohol ethoxylates;* guidance for the deposition of organic matter/feed from aquaculture operations; marine eutrophication guidance framework; nickel; imidacloprid; phosphorus ecoregion guidelines; uranium; aquatic life protocol revisions
SedimentN/Asediment quality index
Soilpropylene glycol; trichloroethylene; protocol revisions.carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; diisopropanolamine;* sulfolane;* uranium

*In partnership with industry.
**Includes values for the protection of aquatic life and agricultural water uses.

Table 2: Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality from March 2005 to April 2006
GuidelineStatus as of April 2006
TrichloroethyleneFinal approval
E. coliFinal approval
Emerging pathogensFinal approval
Heterotrophic plate countFinal approval
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)Submitted for final approval
TrihalomethanesSubmitted for final approval
BromodichloromethaneSubmitted for final approval
ArsenicSubmitted for final approval
ChloriteConsultation completed
ChlorateConsultation completed

The guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, including a summary table of all guidelines, are published on the Health Canada Web site.

3.4.3 Release Guidelines

The final Guidelines for the Reduction of Ethylene Oxide Releases from Sterilization Applications were published on October 1, 2005. The 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.

3.5 State of the Environment Reporting

State of the environment reports and environmental indicators provide Canadians with 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 Web site. This site also includes resources for reporting and indicator practitioners.

There is a growing need to develop tools to improve our ability to recognize environmental change. One such need centres on improving our understanding of food web structure and how food webs may change through time. Food web structure is important in determining the flow of energy, nutrients and contaminants through ecosystems. By measuring stable isotopes and fatty acids in archived Herring Gull eggs, we found that gull diets change over time. These changes reflected alterations in the Great Lakes that reduced prey fish availability. Dietary changes in fish-eating birds are important in terms of affecting diet quality and exposure to contaminants.39

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.

Environment Canada, together with its partners Statistics Canada and Health Canada, completed the first annual report on the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators, published in December 2005. This initiative is in response to recommendations of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy to focus on national indicators on air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, and is available online at two Web sites:

Measuring Sustainability: Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators


Statistics Canada

Environment Canada continued to work in collaboration with federal partners to develop, enhance and update environmental indicators (last reported on in 2003). These are a comprehensive set of indicators covering drivers and pressures and the state and quality of Canada's environment; they are a source of integrated data and science-based information to foster understanding and support decision-making on environmental sustainability.

3.5.2 Regional Reports

During 2005-06, Environment Canada also contributed to the advancement and completion of state of the environment reports and the development of environmental indicators for several ecosystems in Canada.

Progress was made towards continued, periodic reporting on Environment Canada's ecosystem initiatives, as presented below.

Environment Canada co-chaired, with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team on the development and reporting of a suite of nine ecosystem indicators aimed at better understanding key ecosystem stresses and responses in the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound transboundary region. These indicators are: toxics in Harbour Seals; river, stream and lake quality; marine water quality; air quality; shellfish; marine species at risk; population health; urbanization and forest change; and solid waste and recycling. The Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Ecosystem Indicators Report increases the depth and breadth of ecosystem indicators reported in 2002 and is tailored to the information needs of the public and decision-makers, based on feedback received on the 2002 report.

In partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Canada released the State of the Great Lakes 2005 report. The sixth in a series of biennial reports beginning in 1995, this report provides an assessment of Great Lakes Basin ecosystem components using a suite of ecosystem health indicators.

The Northern Ecosystem Initiative has made progress towards the preparation of an indicators report for the Canadian North. A synthesis report including an initial suite of northern indicators drawing upon local, traditional and scientific knowledge and methods from across the Canadian North was drafted, in a collective effort to provide the latest understanding of the status and important trends in Northern ecosystems.

A survey of ecological monitoring activities within the Atlantic Coastal Action Program was conducted from February through April 2005. The survey compiled information on monitoring programs, data dissemination and management, as well as the effectiveness of data delivery and its impacts on policy and decision-making. One of the recommendations to emerge from this initiative was the development of a State of the Atlantic Coastal Action Program Environment report.

Environment Canada, along with a number of other partners, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the provincial government and universities, contributed to a comprehensive report on the terrestrial and marine environments of the British Columbia coast. The work entailed the development of a largely new suite of indicators from those used in previous State of the Environment reports and the identification of data gaps for improved State of the Environment reporting. The indicators provided a synthesis of balanced peer-reviewed scientific information on six aspects of the coastal environment: ecosystem protection, industrial contaminants, fisheries, biodiversity, population and economic activity, and climate change. This integrated report establishes a baseline for environmental conditions and pressures for future comparisons.

3.6 Gathering and Reporting of Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Information

3.6.1 National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides Canadians with access to information on the releases and transfers of key pollutants from industrial facilities located in their communities. The National Pollutant Release Inventory is the only national, legislated, publicly accessible inventory of its kind in Canada and it is an important consideration in managing risks to the environment and human health. Public access to the National Pollutant Release Inventory motivates industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases and helps the Government of Canada track progress in pollution prevention, evaluate releases and transfers of substances of concern, identify and take action on environmental priorities, and implement appropriate policy initiatives and risk-management measures.

The National Pollutant Release Inventory tracks releases to air, water and land, quantities sent for disposal and recycling, and pollution prevention activities. For 2004 reporting, it included 323 pollutants, including toxic substances like mercury, dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen that contribute to smog and acid rain.

During 2005-06, almost 8,500 facilities reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory on their releases and transfers of National Pollutant Release Inventory pollutants for the 2004 reporting year. The information they reported was made publicly available through the National Pollutant Release Inventory Web site and other means.

Recent changes, including the addition of reporting on air pollutants and the removal of the exemption on upstream oil and gas facilities, mean that National Pollutant Release Inventory is providing a more accurate and comprehensive picture of pollutants released to the environment from Canadian facilities.

Data for the 2004 reporting year were collected for the first time through the One Window to National Environmental Reporting System, which was launched in March 2005. The One Window to National Environmental Reporting System 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, One Window to National Environmental Reporting System will be able to consolidate many environmental reporting requirements into a single, integrated, online reporting platform, increasing the efficiency of reporting for both governments and industry while 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 are compiled by Environment Canada 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 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting program was established by the Minister under the authority of subsection 46(1) of Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and announced through the publication of the Canada Gazette notice in March 2004. The collection of greenhouse gas emissions was continued with the Canada Gazette notice published in March 2005.

The greenhouse gas reporting program has four main objectives: to supply information to the national greenhouse gas inventory, to support regulatory development, to inform the public by publishing facility-level data, and to support provincial/territorial emissions information requirements. The program focuses on a limited number of emitters and basic reporting requirements, and lays the foundation for the development of a harmonized and efficient domestic reporting system for greenhouse gas emissions. Facilities that emit 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (100 kt CO2 eq) or more annually are required to submit their greenhouse gas emission information to Statistics Canada by June 1 of each year. The reporting facilities include major industrial facilities that produce electricity, heat or steam using fossil fuels, certain power generation facilities, as well as integrated steel mills, facilities involved in smelting and refining metals, petroleum refineries, and chemical producers.

In June 2005, a total of 326 greenhouse gas reports were submitted, with the majority of reporting facilities being located in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec (71%). The total greenhouse gas emissions for 2004 from all reporting facilities presented just over one-third (37%) of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions as published in the National Inventory Report, 1990-2004: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

The data is published on the greenhouse gas program Web site.

Other actions taken by the program in 2005-06 include:

  • Continuation of consultations with the National Steering Committee on Reporting and the Stakeholders Advisory Committee on Reporting;
  • Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments to harmonize legislative and Greenhouse Gas reporting requirements; and
  • Enhancement of the electronic data reporting system and reporting, as well as updating the Web site and publishing of guidance documents to assist reporters.

3.6.4 Compilation of National Emission Inventory for Greenhouse Gases

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada is obliged to submit an inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. Using an internationally approved format, the inventory monitors six gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, and provides an analysis of the factors underlying the trends in emissions since 1990. Emissions and removals are grouped into six sectors: energy; industrial processes; solvent and other product use; agriculture; land use, land-use change and forestry; and waste.

Canada's Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 1990-2003 was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in April 2005 and represents Canada's eleventh National Inventory Report. The publication of the National Inventory Report allows Canada to track its progress in meeting its emissions reduction goals. The national greenhouse gas inventory also serves as the basis of the greenhouse gas indicator, as recommended by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

1 Kannan, K., J. Ridal, and J. Struger. 2006. Pesticides in the Great Lakes; In: Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Great Lakes. Series: the Handbook of Environmental Chemistry: Volume 5. Ed., R. Hites. ISBN: 987-3-540-29168-8

2 Burniston, D.A. and J. Kraft. 2006a. Sediment Quality in Lake Huron Tributaries: A Screening-Level Survey. EDH Reports # ECB/EHD-OR/ 06-01/I.

3 Burniston, D.A. and J. Kraft. 2006b. Sediment Quality in Lake Superior Tributaries: A Screening Level Survery. EHD Reports # ECB/ EHD-OR-06-03/I.

4 Burniston, D.A., A. Dove and J. Kraft. 2006. Sediment Quality in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie Tributaries: Status and Follow-up Results of ongoing Investigations. EHD Reports # ECB/EHD-OR/05-03/I.

5 Gewurtz, S.B., P.A. Helm, J. Waltho, G.A. Stern, E.J. Reiner, S. Painter and C.H. Marvin. 2007 Spatial distribution and temporal trends in sediment contamination in Lake St. Clair. J. Great Lakes Res. 33:668-685.

6 Weseloh, D.V.C., C. Pekarik, and S.R. de Solla. 2006. Spatial patterns and rankings of contaminant concentrations in herring gull eggs from 15 sites in the Great Lakes and connecting channels, 1988-2002. Environ. Monitor. Assess. 113: 265-284.

7 Li, H., S.T. Tyndale, D.D. Heath, and R.J. Letcher. 2005. Carotenoids and retinoids in eggs of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry. J. Chromatog. B: Biomed. Sci Appl. 816(1-2): 49-56.

8 Letcher, R.J., S.G. Chu, and H. Li. 2005. Determination of hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) in plasma by high performance liquid chromatography-electrospray-tandem quadruple mass spectrometry. J. Anal. Toxicol. 29: 209-216.

9 Letcher, R.J., J.T. Sanderson, B. Bokkers, J.P. Giesy, and M. van den Berg. 2005. Effects of bisphenol A-related diphenylalkanes on vitellogenin production in male carp (Cyprinus carpio) hepatocytes and aromatase (CYP19) activity in human H295R adrenocortical carcinoma cells. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 209: 95-104.

10 McKinney, M.A., L. Cesh, J.E. Elliott, T.D. Williams, D.K. Garcelon, and R.J. Letcher. 2006. Brominated flame retardants and halogenated phenolic compounds in North American west coast bald eaglet (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) plasma. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40: 6275-6281.

11 Wayland, M. and R. Crosley. 2006. Selenium and other trace elements in aquatic insects in coal mine-affected streams in west-central Alberta, Canada. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 50: 511-522.

Wayland, M., J. Kneteman, and R. Crosley. 2006. The American dipper as a bioindicator of selenium contamination in a coal mine-affected stream in west-central Alberta, Canada. Environ. Monitor. Assess. 123: 1-3.

Wayland, M., R. Casey, and E. Woodsworth. A dietary-based assessment of selenium risk to aquatic birds in a coal mine-affected stream in Alberta, Canada. Hum. Ecol. Risk Assess. In press.

12 Kuzyk, Z.A., J.P. Stow, N.M. Burgess, S.M. Solomon, and K.J. Reimer. 2005. PCBs in sediments and the coastal food web near a local contaminant source in Saglek Bay, Labrador. The Science of the Total Environment 351-352: 264-284.

13 Fisk, A.T., C.A. de Wit, M. Wayland, Z. Kuzyk, N. Burgess, R. Letcher, B. Braune, R. Norstrom, S. Polischuk Blum, C. Sandau, E. Lie, H.J.S. Larsen, J.U. Skaare and D.C.G. Muir. 2005. An assessment of the toxicological significance of anthropogenic contaminants in Canadian arctic wildlife. The Science of the Total Environment 351-352: 57-93.

14 Dods, P.L., E.M. Birmingham, T.D. Williams, M.G. Ikonomou, D.T. Bennie, and J.E. Elliott. 2005. Reproductive success and contaminants in Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) breeding at a wastewater treatment plant. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24: 3106-3112.

15 Morrissey, C.A., J.E. Elliott, P. Dods, C. Albert, V. Lai, and W. Cullen. 2006. Assessing the Impact of onomethanearsonate (MSMA) as Used for Bark Beetle Control to Forest Birds in British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service, Technical Report Series No. 460. 89 pp.

Morrissey, C.A., C.A. Albert, P.L. Dods, W.R. Cullen, V.W.-M. Lai, and J.E. Elliott. Arsenic accumulation in bark beetles and forest birds occupying mountain pine beetle-infested stands treated with monosodium methanearsonate (MSMA). Environmental Science & Technology (accepted).

16 Elliott, K.H., S.L. Lee, and J.E. Elliott. 2006 Foraging ecology of bald eagles at an anthropogenic food source: Does the Vancouver landfill affect local populations? Wilson Bulletin 118: 380-390.

17 Mineau, P. and L. Brownlee. 2005. Road salts and wildlife: an assessment of the risk with particular emphasis on winter finch mortality. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 33(3): 835-841.

Bollinger, T.K., P. Mineau, and M.L. Wickstrom. 2005. Toxicity of sodium chloride to house sparrows (Passer domesticus). J. Wildl. Diseases 41(2): 363-370.

18 Knopper, L.D., P. Mineau, A.M. Scheuhammer, D.E. Bond, and D.T. Mckinnon. 2006 Carcasses of shot Richardson's ground squirrels may pose lead hazards to scavenging hawks. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 70(1): 295-299.

19 Rodrigue, J., R. McNicoll, D. Leclair, and J.F. Duchesne. 2005. Lead concentration in ruffed grouse, rock ptarmigan, and willow ptarmigan in Quebec. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 49(1): 97-104.

20 Raymond, J., S.R. de Solla, S. Ashpole, R.J. Brooks, and V. Trudeau. Effect of aqueous 4-octylphenol exposure on growth of hatchling snapping turtles, Chelydra serpentina. Submitted to Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol.

21 Mineau, P. 2005. A review and analysis of study endpoints relevant to the assessment of "long term" pesticide toxicity in avian and mammalian wildlife. Ecotoxicology 14(8): 775-799.

22 Harris, M.L., L.K. Wilson, J.E. Elliott. 2005. An assessment of PCBs and OC pesticides in eggs of double-crested Phalacrocorax auritus and pelagic (P. pelagicus) cormorants from the west coast of Canada, 1970-2002. Ecotoxicology 14: 607-625.

23 Iwaniuk, A.N., D.T. Koperski, K.M. Cheng, J.E. Elliott, L.K. Smith, L.K. Wilson, and D.R.W. Wylie. 2006. The effects of environmental exposure to DDT on the brain of a songbird: Changes in structure associated with mating and song. Behavioural Brain Research 173: 1-10.

24 Chu, S.-G., C. Henny, J.L. Kaiser, K.G. Drouillard, G.D. Haffner, and R.J. Letcher. 2007. Dacthal isomers, chlorophenoxy herbicides and chlorothalonil fungicide in eggs of osprey (Pandion haliaetus) from the Puget Sound area of Washington State, U.S.A. Environ. Pollut. 145(1): 374-381.

25 de Solla, S.R., P.A. Martin, K.J. Fernie, B.J. Park, and G. Mayne. 2006. Effects of environmentally relevant concentrations of atrazine on gonadal development of snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina). Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 25: 514-519.

de Solla, S.R. and P.A. Martin. 2007. Toxicity of nitrogenous fertilizers to eggs of snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) in field and laboratory exposures. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 26(9): 1890-1895.

26 Mineau, P. and M. Whiteside. 2006. The lethal risk to birds from insecticide use in the U.S.: A spatial and temporal analysis. Environ. Toxicol. Chem.25(5): 1214-1222.

27 Mineau, P., C.M. Downes, D.A. Kirk, E. Bayne, and M. Csizy. 2005. Patterns of bird species abundance in relation to granular insecticide use in the Canadian prairies. Ecoscience 12(2): 267-278.

28 Knopper, L.D., P. Mineau, J.P. McNamee, and D.R.S. Lean. 2005. Use of comet and micronucleus assays to measure genotoxicity in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) living in golf course ecosystems exposed to pesticides. Ecotoxicology, 14 (3): 323-335.

Knopper, L.D. and P. Mineau. 2004. Effects of pesticide exposure on meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) living in golf course ecosystems: Developmental toxicology, clinical hematology, blood parasitology and body condition. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 23 (6): 164-171.

29 Verreault, J., C. Bech, R.J. Letcher, E. Ropstad, E. Dahl, and G.W. Gabrielsen. 2007. Organohalogen contamination in breeding glaucous gulls from the Norwegian Arctic: Associations with basal metabolism and thyroid hormones. Environ. Pollut. 145(1): 138-145.

Verreault, J., R.J. Letcher, E. Ropstad, E. Dahl, and G.W. Gabrielsen. 2006. Organohalogen contaminants and metabolites and reproductive hormones in incubating glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) from the Norwegian Arctic. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 25(11): 2990-2996.

30 Verreault, J., R.A. Villa, G.W. Gabrielsen, J.-U. Skaare, and R.J. Letcher. 2006. Maternal transfer of organohalogen contaminants and metabolites to eggs of glaucous gulls from Bear Island. Environ. Pollut. 144(3): 1053-1060.

Verreault, J., M. Houde, G.W. Gabrielsen, U. Berger, M. Haukaas, R.J. Letcher, and D.C.G. Muir. 2005. Perfluorinated alkyl substances in plasma, liver, brain and eggs of glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) from the Norwegian Arctic. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39: 7439-7445.

Verreault, J., G.W. Gabrielsen, D.C.G. Muir, S.G. Chu, W. Gebbink, and R.J. Letcher. 2005. Novel organochlorine contaminants and metabolites in plasma and eggs of glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) from the Norwegian Arctic. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 24: 2486-2499.

31 Verreault, J., G.W. Gabrielsen, S.-G. Chu, D.C.G. Muir, M. Andersen, A. Hamaed, and R.J. Letcher. 2005. Brominated flame retardants and methoxylated and hydroxylated PBDEs in top predator species from the Norwegian Arctic: Glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Environ. Sci. Technol. 39: 6021-6028.

32 Sonne, C., P.S. Leifsson, R. Dietz, E.W. Born, R.J. Letcher, L. Hyldstrup, F.F. Riget, M. Kirkegaard, and D.C.G. Muir. 2006. Xenoendocrine pollutants may reduce size of sexual organs in East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Environ. Sci. Technol. 40: 5668-5674.

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