Canada’s Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report: chapter 2.9

2.9  Mercury (Hg)

Approximately 3.0 t of Hg were emitted in Canada in 2017 (Table 2–11). Ore and mineral industries accounted for 42% (1.3t) of Hg emissions in 2017, with iron and steel industries contributing 24% (0.73t) of the annual total. Electric power generation (utilities) accounted for 20% (0.60 t) of 2017 emissions, most of which were emitted from coal-powered electric generation (19% of annual total, 0.58 t). Incineration and waste sources accounted for 15% (0.44 t) of Hg emissions in 2017, with crematoriums being the largest contributor at 9% (0.28 t).

Between 1990 and 2017, Hg emissions decreased by 91% (31 t) (Figure 2–9). This decrease in emissions is mainly due to a large drop in emissions from the non-ferrous refining and smelting industry. As with lead and cadmium emissions, reductions in mercury emissions coincide with the closure of outdated smelters, the implementation of pollution prevention plans and, to a smaller extent, with increased emission control measures, such as separation or changing of production materials, improved particulate matter emission controls and fuel switching. (ECCC, 2015 Progress Report: Pollution Prevention Planning by Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants, 2017).

Emission reductions from electric power generation (utilities) are largely due to the closure of coal-fired electricity generation facilities and from the addition of mercury controls to plants. For the Incineration and Waste categories, decreases in emissions resulted from a reduction of Hg in products, such as dental amalgams and mercury-containing lamps, going into the waste stream.

The most significant changes in Hg emissions from 1990 to 2017 include:

  • ore and mineral industry: decrease of 95% (25 kt), of which:
    • non-ferrous refining and smelting industry: decrease of 99% (25 kt)
  • incineration and waste: decrease of 85% (2.5 t). of which:
    • waste treatment and disposal: decrease of 94% (1.7 t)
  • electric power generation: decrease of 74% (1.7 t), of which:
    • coal (electric power generation): decrease of 70% (1.3 t)

Figure 2-9: Major contributors to national Hg trends

Figure 2-9 (See long description below)
Long description for Figure 2-9

Figure 2-9 is a stacked area graph displaying the five major contributors to National Hg trends. The five contributors are the following: Non-Ferrous Refining and Smelting Industry, Waste Treatment and Disposal, Coal (Electric Power Generation), Iron and Steel Industry and Other. The following table displays the contributions (t) for the years 1990 to 2017.

Figure 2-9: Major contributors to national Hg trends (t)
Sector 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sector 1 - Non-Ferrous Refining and Smelting Industry 25 25 25 10 8.3 4.7 5.7 3.4 2.8 2.3 1.9 2.1 1.8 1.3 1.9 1.7 1.3 1.4 1.0 0.83 0.54 0.21 0.25 0.36 0.29 0.18 0.22 0.14
Sector 2 - Waste Treatment and Disposal 1.8 1.8 1.9 1.9 1.9 2.2 2.0 2.0 1.1 0.7 1.1 1.0 0.76 0.53 0.56 0.50 0.50 0.51 0.52 0.16 0.16 0.14 0.13 0.12 0.12 0.12 0.11 0.10
Sector 3 - Coal (Electric Power Generation) 2.0 1.8 2.1 1.9 1.9 1.9 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.3 2.2 2.1 1.9 2.1 1.5 1.6 1.5 0.91 0.81 0.80 0.66 0.68 0.63 0.58
Sector 4 - Iron and Steel Industry 0.71 0.73 0.74 0.86 0.77 0.76 0.78 0.83 0.84 0.84 0.83 0.84 0.92 0.93 0.85 0.74 0.69 0.89 0.53 0.55 0.64 0.61 0.68 0.70 0.68 0.65 0.81 0.73
Sector 5 - Other 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.1 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.3 3.2 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.6 3.0 3.1 2.3 2.2 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.5

Table 2-11:  National summary of annual Hg emissions

Ore and Mineral Industries (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 26 000 3 400 2 800 1 300 1 400 1 300 1 300 1 400 1 300
Aluminium Industry 17 32 43 15 21 19 21 21 22
Asphalt Paving Industry 24 22 22 21 20 22 23 22 22
Cement and Concrete Industry 450 390 210 300 310 300 380 340 330
Foundries 210 120 4.2 no emissions (-) - - - - -
Iron and Steel Industry 710 830 740 680 700 680 650 810 730
Iron Ore Industry 60 60 50 - - 0.16 0.13 0.51 0.16
Mineral Products Industry - - - - - - - - -
Mining and Rock Quarrying 12 12 29 5.1 8.6 20 20 16 19
Non-Ferrous Refining and Smelting Industry 25 000 1 900 1 700 250 360 290 180 220 140
Oil and Gas Industry (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 120 61 83 100 120 89 74 81 70
Downstream Oil and Gas Industry 110 26 46 45 48 46 49 53 47
Upstream Oil and Gas Industry 3 36 38 59 68 44 25 28 22
Electric Power Generation (Utilities) (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 2 300 2 100 2 200 860 850 710 740 670 600
Coal 1 900 2 000 2 000 810 800 660 680 630 580
Diesel no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Natural Gas 12 22 27 23 23 19 26 11 0.01
Waste Materials 50 96 7.1 1.5 0.64 0.80 6.0 2.2 1.7
Other (Electric Power Generation) 290 62 91 23 23 28 26 30 17
Manufacturing (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 1  100 1 400 520 110 100 100 110 130 110
Abrasives Manufacturing no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Bakeries - - - - - - - - -
Biofuel Production - - - - - - - - -
Chemicals Industry 170 81 58 23 17 18 15 17 17
Electronics 380 750 56 6.3 6.8 6.4 8.3 30 23
Food Preparation - - 0.30 - - - - - -
Glass Manufacturing 28 28 21 - - - - - -
Grain Industry - - - - - - - - -
Metal Fabrication 16 17 17 11 7.5 - - - -
Plastics Manufacturing - - - - - - - - -
Pulp and Paper Industry 93 130 58 53 50 60 70 71 58
Textiles - - - - - - - - -
Vehicle Manufacturing (Engines, Parts, Assembly, Painting) - - 0.02 - - - - - -
Wood Products 260 190 89 20 19 18 17 16 13
Other (Manufacturing) 150 180 220 0.02 - - - - 0.00
Transportation and Mobile Equipment (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 110 100 100 84 74 68 57 53 53
Air Transportation no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Heavy-Duty Gasoline Vehicles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Heavy-Duty LPG/NG Vehicles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Light-Duty Diesel Trucks 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Light-Duty Diesel Vehicles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Light-Duty Gasoline Trucks 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
Light-Duty Gasoline Vehicles 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
Light-Duty LPG/NG Trucks 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Light-Duty LPG/NG Vehicles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Marine Transportation 4.3 6.2 7.2 4.4 3.3 2.1 0.56 0.52 0.49
Motorcycles 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Off-Road Diesel Vehicles and Equipment - - - - - - - - -
Off-Road Gasoline/LPG/NG Vehicles and Equipment - - - - - - - - -
Rail Transportation 100 98 95 80 71 66 57 52 53
Tire Wear and Brake Lining - - - - - - - - -
Agriculture (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 2.8 3.4 3.2 11 11 11 10 10 9.8
Animal Production no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Crop Production - - - - - - - - -
Fuel Use 2.8 3.4 3.2 11 11 11 10 10 9.8
Commercial / Residential / Institutional (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 1 100 800 760 630 570 550 510 480 470
Cigarette Smoking 0.21 0.18 0.14 0.13 0.11 0.11 0.10 0.10 0.10
Commercial and Institutional Fuel Combustion 47 62 63 54 54 58 55 55 57
Commercial Cooking no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Construction Fuel Combustion 2.6 1.7 2.6 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.2
Home Firewood Burning 54 48 40 41 41 40 40 40 40
Human 110 24 18 8.5 6.9 5.2 3.5 1.8 0.12
Marine Cargo Handling - - 2.8 - - - - - -
Residential Fuel Combustion 64 76 75 71 76 80 75 67 72
Service Stations - - - - - - - - -
Other (Commercial / Residential / Institutional) 820 590 560 460 390 370 340 310 290
Incineration and Waste (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total 2 900 1 800 1 300 460 450 460 460 450 440
Crematoriums 100 140 180 220 240 260 260 270 280
Waste Incineration 990 590 570 110 91 82 76 73 59
Waste Treatment and Disposal 1 800 1 100 500 130 120 120 120 110 100
Paints and Solvents (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Dry Cleaning - - - - - - - - -
General Solvent Use - - - - - - - - -
Printing - - - - - - - - -
Surface Coatings - - - - - - - - -
Dust (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Coal Transportation - - - - - - - - -
Construction Operations - - - - - - - - -
Mine Tailings - - - - - - - - -
Paved Roads - - - - - - - - -
Unpaved Roads - - - - - - - - -
Fires (kg)
Sector 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sub-total no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Prescribed Burning - - - - - - - - -
Structural Fires - - - - - - - - -
Totals (kg)
Source 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Ore and Mineral Industries 26 000 3 400 2 800 1 300 1 400 1 300 1 300 1 400 1 300
Oil and Gas Industry 120 61 83 100 120 89 74 81 70
Electric Power Generation (Utilities) 2 300 2 100 2 200 860 850 710 740 670 600
Manufacturing 1 100 1 400 520 110 100 100 110 130 110
Transportation and Mobile Equipment 110 100 100 84 74 68 57 53 53
Agriculture 2.8 3.4 3.2 11 11 11 10 10 10
Commercial / Residential / Institutional 1 100 800 760 630 570 550 510 480 470
Incineration and Waste 2 900 1 800 1 300 460 450 460 460 450 440
Paints and Solvents no emissions (-) - - - - - - - -
Dust - - - - - - - - -
Fires - - - - - - - - -
Grand Total 34 000 9 700 7 700 3 500 3 600 3 300 3 200 3 300 3 000

Notes:

Totals may not add up due to rounding.

- Indicates no emissions

0.00 Indicates emissions truncated due to rounding

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