Lead is a highly toxic metallic element which occurs naturally in the earth's crust and has many industrial uses. It has been extensively used in the modern industry to manufacture products such as lead-acid batteries, radiation shields, gasoline, paint, etc. Being very soft and pliable and highly resistant to corrosion, it was ideal for use in plumbing as well as for the manufacture of pewter.
Batteries remain the main modern usage of lead and Metals Processing is the major source of lead emissions to the air today. The highest levels of lead in air are generally found near lead smelters. Other stationary sources are waste incinerators, utilities, and lead-acid battery manufacturers.
Everyone is exposed to trace amounts of lead through air, soil, household dust, food, drinking water and various consumer products. Even small amounts of lead can be hazardous to human health. However, since the early 1970s, lead exposure in Canada has decreased substantially mainly because leaded gasoline and lead based paint were gradually phased-out and the use of lead solder is no longer used in food cans.
In Canada, lead was one of the first substances to be added to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) of the original Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). As a country that recognizes the value of a healthy environment, the Government of Canada has implemented several regulations which address the main sources of lead exposure.
For information on Canada's international engagement on this substance, please visit:
- Protocol to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) on Heavy Metals
CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) registry number: 7439-92-1
For more information on this substance, please visit the Chemical Substances website.
Risk Management Tool(s)
Tool(s) developed to manage risks associated with the substance:
- Information Notice: Public Consultation on Proposed Risk Management Options for a Phase-Out of Lead Wheel Weights in the Canadian Market
- Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations
- Gasoline Regulations
- Contaminated Fuel Regulations (SOR/91-486)
- Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1 (SOR/C.R.C., c. 407)
- Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations
- Metal Mining Effluent Regulations - Fisheries Act
- Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations
- Children's Jewellery Regulations
- Migratory Birds Regulations
- Surface Coating Materials Regulations
- Liquid Coating Materials Regulations - Hazardous Products Act
- Environmental Code of Practice for Integrated Steel Mills
- Environmental Code of Practice for Non-Integrated Steel Mills
- Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life
- Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality
- Environmental Performance Agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of the Environment, and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Industry, and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, a non-profit organization, and the Participating Member Companies
- National Plumbing Code of Canada 2010
- Pollution Prevention Planning Notices - Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants
Email address: GR-RM@ec.gc.ca
Fax number: (819) 994-0007
Chemicals Management Division
200 Sacré Coeur Blvd.
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