Pollution Prevention for Citizens and Society

children and geese in a parkAll Canadians benefit from having a clean and healthy environment in which to work, play, and prosper. Therefore, it is important that we all do our part to ensure that the environment is protected and pollution is prevented. This part of the web site has been designed specifically to provide the information Canadians need to prevent pollution. Community groups, environmental organizations, educators, homeowners, and youth are just some of the people that will benefit from the information found here. Special sections have been created to house information pertaining to youth and young adults, as well as educators. In addition, there is a section allotted for environmental issues Canadians may face, as well as a section that provides information on how Canadians can get involved in their communities.

What is Pollution?

Every day we pour or release harmful substances such as poisonous gases, chemicals and garbage into our environment. These harmful substances that end up damaging the environment, are called pollution. Most pollution comes from factories and transportation but as you will see we all contribute to it in many different ways.

All pollution is waste. Waste is unwanted or discarded material and when it is released into the environment it becomes pollution. When most people think of waste they think of garbage or trash that is littered all over the land. This type of waste is the one that most people are familiar with and it is commonly called solid waste. But solid waste pollution is not the only type of pollution out there. Can you think of other types?

In addition to solid waste there is air pollution and water pollution. As you will see, if not handled properly, pollution can and has contaminated our air, water, soil and land.

What is not considered Pollution Prevention?

In the past, when pollution was created people looked for ways to control the pollution after it was created. Treating wastewater, filtering air emissions and using landfills for solid waste are all methods of controlling pollution after it is generated. Controlling or treating pollution is not considered to be pollution prevention. For example when wastewater from a factory or a home is treated, the water ends up cleaner but the factory is then left with sludge made up of all the materials that were filtered out of the water and which needs to be disposed of on land. In other words, pollution control or treatment often moves the pollution from one type of medium (i.e. air, water, land) to another.

Examples of activities that are not pollution prevention include:

  • Any kind of waste treatment or pollution control
  • Recycling that takes place outside of the building or industry. Although recycling does help reduce the amount of garbage sent for disposal it does not prevent pollution. Energy and money still need to be spent to recycle the materials (i.e. melting plastic or glass into new objects).
  • Transferring hazards or toxics from one medium to another (i.e. from air to water or land to air)
  • Diluting or making something less toxic or hazardous by adding water or another substance.

These all work to control or manage the pollution once it has already been created. Remember - pollution prevention wants to stop the pollution or waste from ever being produced.

Can't find what you are looking for?

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC) database contains hundreds of other pollution prevention resources. Access these resources either by conducting a keyword search or a sector search.