Archived: Air Pollutant Emission Inventory report: executive summary

Executive summary

Air Pollutant Emission Inventory (APEI) Report (PDF); 2.63 MB

Canada’s Air Pollutant Emission Inventory (APEI) has been prepared and published by Environment and Climate Change Canada since 1973. The APEI is a comprehensive inventory of emissions of 17 air pollutants at the national and provincial/territorial levels. This inventory serves many purposes including fulfilling Canada’s international reporting obligations under the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the associated protocols ratified by Canada for the reduction of emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), dioxins and furans, and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The APEI also supports monitoring and reporting obligations under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement and the development of air quality management strategies, policies and regulations, informs Canadians about pollutants that affect their health and the environment, and provides data for air quality forecasting models.

The APEI is compiled from many different data sources. Emissions data reporting by individual facilities to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory and, to a lesser extent, data provided directly by the provinces are supplemented with well documented, science-based estimation tools and methodologies to quantify total emissions. Together, these data sources provide a comprehensive overview of air pollutant emissions across Canada.

This edition of the APEI reports the most recent estimates of air pollutant emissions for 1990-2015 as of February 2017. The inventory indicates that 14 of the 17 reported air pollutants show reductions compared to historical levels.Footnote1 Specifically:

Canada’s air pollution emission trends: 1990 to 2015

The last year saw no significant change in the general downward trends of pollutant emissions: industrial emissions of SOx continued to decline, largely due to decreasing emissions from the upstream petroleum industry which has seen a decrease of 53%, non-ferrous smelting and refining which has seen a decrease of 71% and electric power generation (utilities) which has decreased 56%.

The adoption of conservation tillage practices in crop production and the use of new fireplace inserts, furnaces and stoves have contributed to a decrease in emissions of PM2.5. Although already on the decline, the aluminium industry experienced a large drop in PAH emissions from 2001 to 2010 due to the implementation of new production technologies, such as the introduction of pre-baked electrodes to replace continuous casting electrodes.  The aluminium industry experienced additional decreases between 2014 and 2015, related to the replacement of old smelting equipment with a modern smelter at the facility which historically contributed the largest portion of PAH emissions. Emissions of Cd also maintained their steady decline, with reductions in emissions from several sources.

A few sources of pollutants have exerted a dominant influence in the downward trends in emissions. In particular, decreases in emissions of SOx, Cd, Pb and Hg in non-ferrous smelting and refining, as well as mining and rock quarrying industries have strongly contributed to the overall downward trends in emissions of these pollutants.  In addition, reductions in NOx emissions from light-duty gasoline trucks and vehicles, as well as in emissions of VOCs and CO associated with the combustion of gasoline, liquid petroleum gas or compressed natural gas by off-road equipment were instrumental in reducing national emissions of these pollutants.

Improvement in incineration technologies have significantly contributed to decreases in emissions of HCB, dioxins and furans.

An exception to the general downward trends described above is observed in emissions of ammonia  (NH3) which are 22% above 1990 levels in 2015.  The upward trend in ammonia emissions is driven by fertilizer application and animal production.

Canada’s air emissions regulations

Downward trends in emissions of air pollutants reflect the ongoing implementation of a wide range of regulations that restrict or eliminate pollutants in order to improve and maintain air quality in Canada. Regulations specific to air pollutants under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) include, but are not limited to, the following:

All regulations administered under CEPA are available in the registry.

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