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Risk Management Strategy for Mercury - Highlights

A Risk Management Strategy for Mercury provides a comprehensive and consolidated description of the Government of Canada's progress to date in managing the risks associated with mercury. It also outlines objectives, priorities, current and anticipated actions, and monitoring programs in place to address the ongoing risks associated with mercury.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting human health and the environment from risks posed by mercury.


Domestic Action

Over the past several decades, the Government of Canada has implemented a wide range of regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, industry and other stakeholders, to control mercury emissions. As a result of these actions, Canada has made significant progress in reducing domestic sources of anthropogenic mercury emissions by approximately 90% since the 1970s.

Canadian mercury emissions trend from 1970 to 2007

Mercury Emissions (Tonnes) from 1970 to 2010.

Mercury travels long distances in the atmosphere and is deposited far from the source of emission. An estimated 95% of current anthropogenic mercury deposited in Canada is from foreign sources.

Total anthropogenic deposition in Canada in 2006 ~ tonnes

International Action

Accelerated global efforts will be critical in meeting Canadian environmental and human health goals from risks posed by mercury. To this end, Canada is participating in negotiations to develop a global legally binding instrument on mercury under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Canada is also an active participant in the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership, which aims to protect human health and the global environment from releases of mercury.

Proposed Canadian Actions

ActionExpected Outcome
Regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.These regulations are expected to reduce mercury emissions from electrical power generation by about 40% by 2020 and 65% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, and could reduce mercury emissions by up to 96% by 2050.
Proposed Products Containing Certain Toxic Substances Regulations are anticipated to come into force by 2012 and will prohibit the import, manufacture and sale of mercury-containing products.Potential estimated reduction of approximately 90 tonnes of mercury used in products is expected over the first 20 years of implementation.
Ongoing participation in negotiations (UNEP) towards a global, legally binding instrument on mercury and enhancing Canada’s participation in regional, sectoral and bilateral initiatives.Potential decreases of Canadian mercury depositions from foreign sources.
Continued monitoring of changes in the levels of mercury in the environment.More informed decision making by governments, industry and consumers.
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