This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Part II: Toxic Substances (CEPA Sections 11-48)

Part II contains provisions to reduce the risks posed by existing substances found in Canada or new substances coming into Canada.

As defined in CEPA, a substance is “toxic” if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions

  1. having or that may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment;
  2. constituting or that may constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends; or
  3. constituting or that may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health”. (Section 11)

Part II also authorizes the regulation of the import and export of hazardous wastes and the composition of fuels.

The Domestic Substances List

The Domestic Substances List (DSL) is an inventory of more than 23 000 substances manufactured in, or imported into, Canada on a commercial scale. It was originally based on substances deemed to have been in Canada between January 1984 and December 1986. Substances not on this list are considered new to Canada and must be assessed to determine if they are toxic or could become toxic according to the New Substances Notification Regulations. The DSL includes the original list, published on May 4, 1994, as well as all additions or deletions subsequently published in the Canada Gazette as a result of the New Substances Notification Regulations and auditing of original nominations. In fiscal year 1998-99, there were 350 additions to the DSL and one deletion.

An Internet site allows a search of the current DSL and Non-Domestic Substances List inventories.

New Substances Notification Regulations

Before new substances can be manufactured in or imported into Canada, the New Substances Notification Regulations, 1994 require manufacturers and importers to provide information on chemical identity, toxicological and environmental effects data, manufacturing, processing and use data and the amounts proposed for manufacture or import. If a substance is suspected of being "toxic", the Government may require additional information or testing, impose controls or ban the manufacture or import of the substance. New substances include new chemicals and polymers as well as biotechnology substances.

Chemicals and Polymers

During 1998-99, Environment Canada and Health Canada jointly assessed 849 new substances and 153 transitional substances. Transitional substances were manufactured in or imported into Canada between January 1987 (when the DSL was settled) and July 1994 (when the New Substances Notification Regulations came into effect). These reviews resulted in the imposition of various kinds of controls on 15 substances.

In an effort to harmonize the notification and assessment of new substances in the United States and Canada, Environment Canada has partnered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and American and Canadian companies and industry associations through the "Four Corners" pilot project. The pilot project, involving the exchange of technical data and assessment information, ran from July 1996 to July 1998 and has been renewed for two years.

The New Substances Notification Program is implementing cost recovery regulations and conducting consultations on this initiative. An impact assessment of the proposed cost recovery fee schedule was completed by the Business Impact Assessment Group. As well, Environment Canada and Health Canada have reviewed the New Substances Notification Regulations using the experience of the first three years of the program. A joint government/industry working group assessed the impact that the Regulations have had on industry. Proposals address the simplification of the Regulations and their implementation and the streamlining of data requirements.

Biotechnology Substances

The biotechnology portion of the CEPA New Substances Notification Regulations came into effect on September 1, 1997. Joint Environment Canada/Health Canada assessments were completed on seven new biotechnology substances in 1998-99. After rigorous assessments, it was determined that no controls were required for these biotechnology substances, but one review resulted in a company withdrawing one component of its formulation to avoid a condition (control). It should be noted that beyond the assessments conducted by Environment Canada and Health Canada under CEPA, Agriculture Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency also conduct assessments of new biotechnology substances under their respective legislative responsibilities.

To further international harmonization, both Departments are participating in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology. The focus has been on the development of microorganism "Consensus Documents". Biotechnology regulatory scientists also contributed to negotiations for a biosafety protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Program staff hosted several international groups of scientists (India, South America), permitting sharing of regulatory and assessment knowledge and techniques.

Priority Substances


Section 34 of CEPA enables the federal government to take action, including making regulations, relating to the quantity or concentration of a toxic substance that may be released to the environment. Based on the advice of experts, two lists of substances that are the most important to assess for toxicity or the capacity to become toxic have been compiled. The first Priority Substances List (PSL1) was published in 1989 and lists 44 substances. The second Priority Substances List (PSL2), published in 1995, lists 25 substances.

When a substance is deemed toxic under CEPA, the government consults representatives from industry, federal, provincial and municipal governments, and aboriginal and non- governmental organizations to identify management options for that substance. This multi-stakeholder PSL process, referred to as the Strategic Options Process, leads to recommendations to the Minister of the Environment on the most effective and efficient management options to reduce releases of toxic substances.

Actions on PSL1 Substances

During 1998-99,

  • work was under way to implement the multi-stakeholder issue table recommendations that were accepted by the Minister in 1997 for dry cleaning, solvent degreasing, benzidine/3,3'- dichlorobenzidine and electric power generation,
  • the Minister accepted (in 1998) 52 multi- stakeholder issue table recommendations concerning refractory ceramic fibres, steel manufacturing, base metals smelting, dichloromethane and metal finishing,
  • stakeholders were consulted about three toxic substances 1,2-dichloroethane, HCB and diethylhexyl phthalate with an options report expected in 2000, and
  • discussions took place with several stakeholders on potential partnerships for initiatives related to chlorine use for wastewater disinfection.

Significant progress was made on finalizing the Technical Recommendations Document, "Recommendations for the Design and Operation of Wood Preservation Facilities", for facilities that use creosote, pentachlorophenol and compounds of chromium and arsenic.

The Strategic Options Process was evaluated by the Review Branch of Environment Canada during 1998-99. Recommendations resulting from the review are being implemented.

The major changes include:

  • reducing the time taken to identify, evaluate and develop management options to 24 months, and
  • drafting management or control instruments (such as regulations, guidelines, agreements, etc.) rather than recommendations for Ministerial approval.

Actions on PSL1 Substances for Which There Was Insufficient Information to Conclude on "Toxicity"

At the start of 1998-99, there were 13 PSL1 substances for which there was insufficient information to conclude on "toxicity" under Section 11(a) of CEPA (effects on the environment) or under Section 11(c) of CEPA (effects on human health). Health Canada continues to conduct research on these substances. Environment Canada developed research plans and obtained new information on the eight substances or groups of substances for which data on effects on the environment were lacking: 1,2-dichlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, trichlorobenzenes, tetrachlorobenzenes, pentachlorobenzene, styrene, 1,1,2,2- tetrachloroethane and waste crankcase oils. Risk analysis was completed using this new information, and the results will be published in 1999-2000.

Additions to Schedule I

In March 1999, 18 PSL1 toxic substances were added to Schedule I, for a total of 45 substances, paving the way for regulations, if they are found to be necessary.

PSL1 CEPA Toxic Substances

(1) 1,1,1-Trichloroethane
(2) 1,2-Dichloroethane
(3) 3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine
(4) Benzene*
(5) Benzidine
(6) Bis (chloromethyl) ether*
(7) Chloromethyl methyl ether*
(8) Chlorinated paraffins
(9) Chlorinated wastewater effluents
(10) Creosote impregnated wastes
(11) Dichloromethane
(12) Effluents from pulp & paper mills using bleach*
(13) Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
(14) Hexachlorobenzene
(15) Hexavalent chromium compounds
(16) Inorganic arsenic compounds
(17) Inorganic cadmium compounds
(18) Inorganic fluorides
(19) Oxidic, sulphidic, soluble inorganic nickel compounds
(20) Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins
(21) Polychlorinated dibenzofurans
(22) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
(23) Refractory ceramic fibres
(24) Tetrachloroethylene
(25) Trichloroethylene

* Already regulated

Strategic Options Process

used to develop options for the effective management of toxic substances

1. Substances

Benzidine (5)/3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine (3)**
Refractory ceramic fibres (23)**
Chlorinated paraffins (8)
1,2-Dichloroethane (2)
Dichloromethane (11)**
Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (13)
Hexachlorobenzene (14)

2. Sectors

Dry cleaning (24)**
Solvent degreasing (24, 25)**
Wood preservation (10, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22 )
Iron and steel (4, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22 )**
Metal finishing (15, 17, 19 )**
Base metal smelting (16, 17, 19 )**
Electric power generation (15, 16, 17, 18, 19 )**

3. Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee

Chlorinated wastewater effluents (9)

The numbers in parentheses ( ) refer to the relevant substance on PSL1

** Two asterisks mean that recommendations were completed and accepted by the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health.

Priority Substances List 2 (PSL2)

Aluminum chloride, aluminum nitrate, aluminum sulphate
Ammonia in the aquatic environment
Butylbenzylphthalate (BBP)
Carbon disulfide
N,N-Dimethylformamide (DMF)
Ethylene glycol
Ethylene oxide
Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD)
2-Methoxy ethanol, 2-Ethoxy ethanol, 2-Butoxy ethanol
N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)
Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates (NPE)
Releases from primary and secondary copper smelters and copper refineries
Releases from primary and secondary zinc smelters and zinc refineries
Releases of radio nuclides from nuclear facilities (impacts on non-human species)
Respirable particulate matter less than or equal to 10 microns
Road salts
Textile mill effluents

Progress on PSL2 Assessments

The PSL2 list of 25 substances was published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on December 16, 1995. Environment Canada and Health Canada are working together to complete assessments, before December 2000, on the risks to human health and the environment associated with these substances. Toxicology and human exposure assessments for five PSL2 substances have been completed and released for public review. Assessments for several other PSL2 substances are almost complete.

In order to manage and ensure the release of all assessment reports before December 2000, Environment Canada and Health Canada jointly prepared a PSL2 Assessment Reports Review, Approval, Publishing and Communications Process in November 1998. The plan is for assessments to be published for public review and comment before Ministers make decisions on how to classify the substances. After the Ministers final decision is published in the Canada Gazette, there is another formal 60-day review period.

Toxic Substances Management Policy

The federal governments Toxic Substances Management Policy was announced in Parliament on June 2, 1995. This policy provides a science- based framework for the management of toxic substances. The key management objectives in the policy are:

  • virtual elimination of releases to the environment of toxic substances that are persistent and bioaccumulative and are present in the environment primarily due to human activity (Track 1 substances), and
  • management of other toxic substances and substances of concern throughout their life cycles to prevent or minimize their release into the environment (Track 2 substances).

The initial list of 12 substances that met the criteria for management under Track 1 of the Toxic Substances Management Policy was published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on July 4, 1998. These substances, some of which are on the PSL1, are:

  • aldrin,
  • chlordane,
  • DDT,
  • dieldrin,
  • endrin,
  • HCB,
  • heptachlor,
  • mirex,
  • PCBs,
  • PCDDs,
  • PCDFs, and
  • toxaphene.

All 12 substances are POPs that also enter the Canadian environment from foreign sources through long-range atmospheric transport. There is more information about Environment Canada's international efforts to control POPs in Part V, International Air Pollution. The Scientific Justification Documents that show the basis for the Track 1 designation are available on the Internet.

Within Canada, action has already been taken to severely limit or ban the production, use or release of these 12 substances:

  • PCBs - The use and release of PCBs to the environment are controlled under CEPA's Chlorobiphenyls Regulations, while the storage of PCB material, the export of PCB wastes and the destruction of PCB wastes on federal land are controlled under other regulations. All these regulations are being revised to reflect commitments under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation PCB Regional Action Plan for North America and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN- ECE) POPs Protocol, which concern the phaseout of all PCB uses and the destruction of PCB wastes in a timely manner.

  • Dioxins and furans - The federal government and the provinces agreed to develop Canada-wide Standards for this group of substances. Environment Canada and a Federal-Provincial Task Force on Dioxins and Furans prepared an inventory report on releases to the environment. The report indicates that atmospheric releases of dioxins and furans declined by 43% between 1990 and 1999 due to plant closures or upgrades of existing plants, while releases to water declined by 99% due to the implementation of the 1992Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations and the Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations. The Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations, which also regulate pulp and paper mills nationwide, are under theFisheries Act and are supported by environmental effects monitoring programs.

  • HCB - HCB is released from chlorinated solvents, combustion sources and pesticide use. A control options report indicated that no additional action is required for HCB in chlorinated solvents, because a 65% reduction in their use is expected as a result of the dry cleaning and solvent degreasing sectors following Strategic Options Process recommendations. There will also be a reduction in HCB releases from combustion sources, because the measures to control dioxins and furans will have a direct effect on HCB releases as well.

  • The remaining Track 1 substances were active ingredients in pesticides that are now prohibited in Canada.

Participants in the Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics (ARET) Program reduced emissions of toxic substances by 24 090 tonnes - a decrease of 64% from base year levels set for specific substances and companies between 1988 and 1993. Of the 303 facilities participating in ARET, 118 met or exceeded their year 2000 ARET reduction targets in all substance categories on which they reported.

Fuel Regulations

Sulphur in Gasoline

In October 1998, the Ministers of Environment and Health announced regulations to significantly lower the allowable level of sulphur in gasoline sold in Canada. The new limit is 30 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur content in gasoline by January 1, 2005 with an interim average limit of 150 ppm by 2002. In 1998, the average Canadian level of sulphur in gasoline was 350 ppm, among the highest in the industrialized world. (The Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, June 24, 1999.)

It is estimated that, over a 20-year period, lowering of sulphur levels in gasoline will prevent over 2100 premature deaths, 93 000 incidents of bronchitis in children, 5 million other health-related incidents, such as asthma attacks, and 11 million acute respiratory symptoms, such as coughs, pneumonia and croup.

Benzene in Gasoline

Amendments to the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations (1997) were prepared for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, during 1998-99. The amendments would allow a company to apply for up to an additional six months to comply with the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations.

Collecting Data to Assist with Substance Assessment and Management

Sections 15 through 18 of CEPA allow the federal government to collect information and conduct investigations to support the assessment of existing substances and the development of management options for substances considered toxic. The following surveys were completed after the notices were sent to specific companies:

  • Notice with Respect to Certain Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Certain Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), Canada Gazette, Part I, June 20, 1998 - The information was used to support consultations for amendments to the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, 1998 and to assist in the development of Canada's position for the 11th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

  • Notice with Respect to Certain Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Canada Gazette, Part I, November 28, 1998 - In the context of the climate change program, the information on PFCs requested in this notice will assist Environment Canada in developing strategies to control certain uses of these chemicals.

  • Notice Respecting Textile Mill Effluents, Canada Gazette, Part I, January 9, 1999 - The information collected on processing activities and wastewater treatment at all wet processing textile mills in Canada was used to assist the PSL2 assessment of textile mill effluents.

Duty to Report Information that a Substance Is Toxic

Section 17 puts an onus on businesses, companies and individuals to report to the Minister when, during the normal course of business, they learn that a substance is toxic, as defined in CEPA, unless they know that the Minister already has this information. In 1998, 26 new submissions under Section 17 were received and evaluated by Environment Canada and Health Canada officials.

Interdepartmental Cooperation

Environment Canada/Health Canada CEPA Management Committee

The CEPA Management Committee was established pursuant to the 1990 MOU between Environment Canada and Health Canada concerning toxic substances and CEPA. It oversees both departments' programs dealing with Priority Substances, new chemicals and biotechnology products, the development of regulatory and non-regulatory control options for toxic substances, amendments to CEPA and its regulations and other related issues.

Ongoing matters under consideration by the Committee during 1998-99 included:

  • timely completion of PSL assessment reports,
  • the public review process for PSL assessments,
  • management of Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins under the Toxic Substances Management Policy,
  • completion of research on PSL1 substances for which there was insufficient information to conclude on "toxicity",
  • joint cooperation for screening the DSL,
  • consultation on amendments to the New Substances Notification Regulations,
  • cost recovery in the new chemicals program, and
  • guidelines for reporting chemicals under Section 17.

Decisions of the Committee during 1998-99 included:

  • publication for public review of seven assessment reports,
  • addition of 18 PSL1 toxic substances to Schedule I of CEPA,
  • decision that persistent, bioaccumulative and CEPA-toxic substances (regardless of basis of determination) should be slated for virtual elimination, and
  • extension of Health Canada resources for work on transitional substances.

Protecting the Marine Environment from Land- based Activities

A draft National Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land- based Activities was released for public input in March 1999. The draft plan was prepared through the collaborative efforts of the federal, provincial and territorial governments and responds to Canada's commitment under the 1995 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). The relevance of the GPA to oceans management - in particular, the importance of managing the coastal zone and the influence of nearshore freshwater environments - has been highlighted at the international level.

Arctic Regional Programme of Action

Canada has also made significant progress towards international implementation of the GPA, through its leadership role in the development of the Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (RPA). The RPA will contribute substantially to meet GPA commitments in the Arctic and has a particular focus on regional cooperation and capacity building to address the regional priority pollution sources found in the Russian Federation.

Hazardous Wastes

The Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations provide a way of tracking the movement of hazardous wastes into and out of Canada, including transits passing through Canadian territory.

During the 1998 calendar year, 852 notices for proposed exports of hazardous waste, 7 202 notices for imports and 229 notices for shipments in transit through Canada were processed. During the same period, 41 895 manifests were processed for tracking shipments approved under these notices. This represents an 11% increase over 1997. Information on imports and exports of hazardous waste is published twice a year in the RESILOG newsletter, which is available on the Internet.

Exports of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials from Canada have remained relatively stable over the year. Imports, however, show a consistent increase, but are still less than 10% of the volume of hazardous waste generated in Canada. The increase can be explained, in part, by the growing Canadian waste management industry, including an increased capacity in recycling and material recovery. Sixty percent of the imports were destined for recycling.

Data also show that the number of countries from which Canada imports hazardous wastes is steadily increasing, from 11 countries notifying Canada about proposed shipments in 1995 to 28 countries in 1998. This trend coincides with international agreements such as the Basel Convention, which defines procedures for the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials, and a continued increase in compliance by the regulated community. The compliance rate for submitting the requisite manifest documents for waste generator and waste receiver increased in 1998 to 98.9% for exports and 90.3% for imports compared to 28% and 53% respectively in 1992- 1994.

Volume Exported and Imported

The Basel Convention

The major goals of the Basel Convention are to control the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to ensure that they are managed in an environmentally sound manner. The September 1996 ban amendment was further qualified at the February 1998 Fourth Conference of the Parties with the addition of two annexes: the Parties agreed to adopt Annex VIII, a list of wastes/recyclables covered by the Convention and the ban amendment, and Annex IX, a list of wastes/recyclables not covered by the Convention and the ban amendment. These annexes were prepared by the Technical Working Group in which Canada was an active participant. Four working groups are preparing for the Fifth Conference of the Parties, scheduled for December 1999.

National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is a national, legislated, publicly accessible inventory, providing Canadians with access to pollutant release information for facilities located in their communities. It tracks on-site releases of pollutants to air, water and land and underground; off-site transfers of waste; and off-site transfers for recovery, reuse, recycling and energy recovery.

Highlights of the 1996 NPRI Summary Report, released in 1998-99, include the following:

  • 1818 Canadian facilities filed reports with NPRI in 1996, an increase of 2.2% from 1995, and
  • 6635 pollutant reports were filed (one report is filed for each substance released or transferred), an increase of 4.3% from 1995.

An extensive consultation during 1998-99 resulted in the addition of 73 substances to the NPRI reporting requirements, bringing the total to 246 substances. Results for 1997 will be available in fall 1999.

Date modified: