Canada’s air-quality overview


Recent actions by the Government of Canada to address air pollution

  • Last month, Canada announced proposed regulations to accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired power plants as commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework of Clean Growth and Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. This measure will also improve our air quality and the health of Canadians since coal-electricity emissions are among of the largest sources of sulphur-dioxide and nitrous-oxides emissions in Canada. Air pollution from coal electricity contributes to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, which especially impact small children and the elderly and add to the burden on our health-care system.
  • Canada continues to meet its international commitments on air pollution, and it took additional steps with the ratification of the Gothenburg Protocol, in November 2017.
  • Canada is currently finalizing national regulations to reduce emissions of air pollutants from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors—including oil-sands upgraders.
  • New regulations now require new small gasoline engines, such as those used in lawn mowers and garden equipment—tools owned and operated by millions of Canadians—to pollute less.

Highlights from the 2018 Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory

  • Industrial emissions in Canada continued to decline, largely due to decreasing emissions from the mining and smelting industry and coal-powered electric generation.
  • While Canadian emissions from most major air pollutants are declining, emissions of ammonia and some larger particulate matter have increased due to agricultural fertilizer and a general expansion of the livestock industry and construction operations.
  • Canada's emissions of heavy metals covered by the report, including mercury and lead, have all decreased by more than 85 percent since 1990.
  • Canada’s air quality continues to improve. Significant reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from transportation vehicles, engines, and their fuels were instrumental in reducing total national emissions of these pollutants by 25 percent and 42 percent respectively, since 1990.
  • Emissions of fine particulate matter, a concern to human health and a major component of smog, have decreased by 18 percent, from 1990 to 2016.

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