Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2016 to 2017: chapter 2

2 Addressing key risks

2.1 Toxic substances harmful to human health or the environment

Parts 4, 5 and 6 of CEPA include specific provisions for data collection, assessment and management for controlling toxic substances. Substances include both chemicals and living organisms (specific information on living organisms begins in section 2.2). For chemicals, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health were required to sort through, or “categorize”, the substances on the original Domestic Substances List (DSL), an inventory of approximately 23,000 substances manufactured in, imported into or used in Canada. The categorization process identified the need for a more detailed assessment of approximately 4,300 substances that:

  • were suspected to be inherently toxic to humans or to the environment, and are persistent (take a very long time to break down) or bioaccumulative (collect in living organisms and end up in the food chain) or
  • present the greatest potential for exposure to Canadians

The Chemicals Management Plan update

The Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) is a program developed to protect Canadians and their environment from exposure to toxic substances. At its core is a commitment to assess by 2020 these 4,300 substances of potential concern that were already in commerce in Canada during the development of a pre-market new substance notification system under CEPA.

As of March 31, 2017, assessments were published for 3,073 of those 4,300 substances. When substances are assessed as “toxic”, the Government of Canada takes action to address the risks to health and the environment. In 2016–2017, 16 risk management instruments were published, including the proposed Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations and the Code of Practice to ensure the Environmentally Sound Management of End of Life Lamps Containing Mercury.

Under the CMP, the government also conducts pre-market assessments of health and environmental effects of approximately 500 substances that are new to Canada each year. In 2016–2017, 473 notifications to manufacture or import new substances were received from industry and assessed within targeted timelines. The Chemical Substances web section provides more information on the CMP and its related activities.

2.1.1 Monitoring

Monitoring and surveillance activities are essential to identify and track levels and trends of chemicals in the environment and human exposure to those chemicals. A broad range of monitoring activities for chemicals was conducted to support a number of domestic programs including the CMP, the Northern Contaminants Program, the Freshwater Quality Monitoring Program, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Great Lakes Herring Gull Contaminants Monitoring Program and the St. Lawrence Action Plan. Monitoring activities also support Canada’s contribution to international efforts, such as the multilateral cooperation under the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, and helped Canada fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Environment Programme Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The CMP Environmental Monitoring and Surveillance Program involves the collection of data on the concentration of chemical substances in environmental compartments at locations across Canada. Environmental compartments include surface water, sediment, air, aquatic biota and wildlife. Wastewater system influent, effluent and biosolids are also monitored at select locations representing a range of input and treatment system types.

Through the program, many priority substances have been monitored to provide environmental data for risk assessment and risk management decision making. Priority substances for 2016–2017 included polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), organophosphate ester and non-PBDE halogenated flame retardants, phthalates, substituted diphenyl amines (SDPAs), perfluorinated compounds and other poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (including PFOS, PFOA and PFCAs), polychlorinated napthalenes (PCNs), siloxanes, triclosan, bisphenol A (BPA), nonylphenol and its nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP/NPEs), short chain chlorinated paraffins, and metals, such as mercury, cadmium, cobalt and selenium.

Through other initiatives, environmental monitoring continued for current use pesticides, including neonicotinoids, and legacy chemicals such as, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, to inform on performance of risk management actions.

ECCC also monitors hazardous airborne chemicals through the Great Lakes Monitoring Program, the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling network (GAPS), and the atmospheric component of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) (Figure 2). Air and precipitation monitoring in the Great Lakes Basin measures persistent organic pollutants (POPs), other priority chemicals and trace metals to determine the atmospheric loadings of these substances to the Great Lakes. GAPS uses cost-effective and simple passive air samplers designed by ECCC scientists to collect data on POPs and other priority chemicals. The atmospheric component of NCP conducts long-term monitoring of POPs and other priority chemicals in the Canadian Arctic to evaluate trends and to assess the influence of long-range atmospheric transport.

Figure 2. Map of hazardous air pollutant monitoring sites

Figure 2. Map of hazardous air pollutant mornitoring sites
Long description for figure 2

This map indicates sites that are monitored as part of the Great Lakes Monitoring Program, the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling network (GAPS), and the atmospheric component of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP).

Health Canada (HC) funded seven health CMP monitoring and surveillance projects in 2016–2017. Monitoring activities continued to focus on human exposure to contaminants, including biomonitoring of selected novel flame retardants and synthetic musks, measurements of various Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), metabolites in urine, and measurements of halogenated flame retardants in blood of children recruited from a large birth cohort study.

HC continued analysis and publication of biomonitoring results from the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Research Platform. In 2016–2017, six MIREC journal articles were published including biomonitoring results for organophosphate (OP) pesticides, perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and manganese) and chemical mixtures. Extension of the MIREC Research Platform has been approved to measure additional chemicals such as glyphosate, additional phthalates, bisphenol A substitutes, OP flame retardants and the organic solvents N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) and N-Ethyl-2-pyrrolidone (NEP) in biobanked maternal samples.

HC’s human biomonitoring (HBM) efforts continued in 2016–2017 with the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), measuring environmental chemical exposures in Canadians aged 3 to 79. Laboratory analyses for cycle 4 (2014–2015) were completed and data analysis was underway for the Fourth report on human biomonitoring of environmental chemicals in Canada, to be published in 2017–2018. In addition, sample collection for cycle 5 (2016–2017) continued. New priority chemicals for inclusion in cycle 7 (2020–2021) and beyond were identified through stakeholder outreach and laboratory consultations. In 2016–2017, three CHMS journal articles were published including an overview of the initial six cycles of the CHMS and the first set of Canadian reference values (RV95) for metals and persistent organic pollutants. CHMS data also contributed to the recent assessment reports for triclosan and ethylbenzene and has been proposed for use in the biomonitoring based approach planned for molybdenum, silver, thallium and vanadium.

Case study: The Canadian health measures survey

As a component of the CMP, the CHMS is an ongoing cross-sectional direct measures survey implemented in two-year cycles in Canada. The objectives of CHMS regarding HBM is to determine nationally-representative concentrations of environmental chemicals in biological specimens (blood, urine, and hair) and provide biomonitoring data to elucidate temporal trends of chemical exposure, to facilitate data comparison among sub-populations in Canada and other countries, and to identify any potential exposure sources (e.g., smoking leading to increased blood levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes, collectively known as BTEX).Footnote 1

Currently, CHMS biomonitoring data have been used to achieve the following: (1) establish baseline concentrations of chemicals in the general Canadian population, (2) inform chemical risk assessment and risk assessment activities, (3) assess effectiveness of regulatory and risk management actions, and (4) fulfill national and international reporting requirements. HBM data for CHMS cycles 1–3 (i.e. from 2007 to 2013) are published and available online.Footnote 2 HC was highlighted at the second international Human Biomonitoring Conference in April 2016 (Berlin, Germany) and two staff were invited as experts for the launch of the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative in December 2016 (Brussels, Belgium).

Both ECCC and HC contribute to the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) led by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). ECCC has been a major contributor in monitoring abiotic media, aquatic biota and wildlife, as well as Arctic ecosystem health. In 2016–2017, HC completed six human biomonitoring (HBM) and health projects under the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP). HC partners with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on the human health component of the NCP, which addresses concerns about human exposure to elevated levels of contaminants in wildlife species important to the traditional diets of northern Indigenous peoples. INAC and HC continued work on a Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report (CACAR) on Human Health, which was initiated in 2015 and will be published in 2017–2018.

ECCC scientists have co-led and contributed to the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) report (2015) on temporal trends in persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic, which was published in December 2016.

2.1.2 Research

During 2016–2017, research on chemicals was carried out by both departments under a number of programs, including the CMP, the NCP, the Strategic Technology Applications of Genomics in the Environment Program, Genome Canada and the Great Lakes Action Plan.

ECCC and HC conduct a wide range of research to help inform assessments of the risks associated with toxic substances to human health or the environment. This research is designed primarily, among other uses, to fill data gaps in risk assessments; evaluate the impact of toxic substances, complex environmental mixtures, and other substances of concern on the environment and human health; determine the extent of ecological and human health exposure to contaminants; and investigate the effects of chemicals on endocrine systems. In addition, HC undertakes research to support the development of regulations, guidelines and air quality objectives with the goal of reducing population exposures to pollutants and improving human health.

Nineteen (19) CMP research projects at HC were funded in 2016–2017 on a number of subjects, such as, the distribution of chemical substances in the dust of Canadian houses and the effects of flame retardants and other chemicals on endocrine, reproductive systems and adipogenesis (fat cell formation), as well as their potential developmental neurotoxicity. Research projects addressed knowledge gaps on: 1) the effects of exposure of priority substances to humans and the environment, including on environmental fate and effects, and toxicology; 2) identification and characterization of sources, pathways and levels of exposure, and; 3) the development of tools, testing and analytical methodologies.

HC is continuing research on the development of testing methodologies to detect and characterize nanomaterials in products, as well as to investigate the toxicity of nanomaterials. For example, research was conducted on refining the assessment of exposures to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) through improved sampling and analytical methods, and characterizing dermal exposure to nanomaterials from cosmetic products.

Case study: Avian ‘in vitro’ evaluation of Bisphenol A (BPA) alternatives

Avian toxicological evaluations of chemicals that could replace BPA have been conducted in the molecular toxicology laboratory at the National Wildlife Research Centre using in vitro, high throughput screening techniques (automation) and toxicogenomicsFootnote 3 to elucidate pathway-based effects. The goal of the research is to assist regulators in identifying appropriate and safe alternatives to BPA given the restrictions on its use.

One of the potential BPA alternative chemicals altered several toxicologically-relevant genes, while another replacement alternative was slightly less toxic. Research is ongoing to further understand the toxic modes of action and whether these replacement chemicals truly represent safe alternatives.

Under the CMP, focused research took place in order to develop quantitative approaches for improved regulatory evaluation & risk assessment of genotoxic substances, as well as case studies on the application of integrated testing strategies in human health risk assessment.

Case study: Rare earth elements, uranium and thorium in the Canadian house dust study

The Canadian house dust study was designed to provide a national baseline of concentrations of chemical substances in settled dust, against which changes in indoor environmental quality may be monitored over time.

Rare earth elements are in high demand because they are used in electronics and high-performing speakers, as tiny magnets in MP3 players and ear buds and as colours in flat screen TVs and monitors. Rare earth elements are also used in green technologies such as hybrid car batteries, wind turbines and solar panels.

Results were published in an indoor air article in 2017, which reported on nationally representative indoor dust concentrations and surface loadings of rare earth elements, plus uranium and thorium. Interesting correlations suggest primary indoor sources of the study elements, including:

  • uranium and thorium in cat litter, caused by geological impurities in bentonite clay
  • lighter flints in homes of smokers, which are made of a combustible mixture of rare earth elements called “mischmetal”, and
  • hardwood floor coatings, which incorporate rare earth elements such as pigments and drying agents

The study used a rigorous random sampling approach to collect settled dust samples from 1025 urban homes across 13 cities with a population greater than 100,000.

The next step is to determine whether rare earth elements in indoor particles pose an inhalation health risk, by investigating their solubility in the human lung. This research will inform risk assessments under the Chemicals Management Plan, slated to be complete by 2020.

Table 1: Summary of existing substance assessment decisions published from April 2016 to March 2017
(NFA = no further action)
Substances (and number of substances) Meet section 64 criteria Proposed measure Publication date of draft notice* Publication date of final notice*
Hexachloroethane (1) No NFA February 8, 2014 April 30, 2016
Ethylbenzene (1) No NFA February 8, 2014 April 30, 2016
Stream 4 Heavy Fuel Oils (7) No NFA September 6, 2014 April 30, 2016
Ethene (1) No NFA January 25, 2014 May 21, 2016
BDPT (1) No NFA January 25, 2014 May 21, 2016
Certain Azo Basic Dyes of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (33) No NFA July 26, 2014 May 28, 2016
Certain Aromatic Amines of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (16) No NFA July 26, 2014 May 28, 2016
Internationally Classified Substance Grouping – Cresol Substances (4) No NFA July 19, 2014 May 28, 2016
Internationally Classified Substance Grouping – AEEA (1) No NFA July 19, 2014 May 28, 2016
Internationally Classified Substance Grouping – Ethyl Carbamate (1) Yes NFA July 19, 2014 May 28, 2016
Certain Azo Solvent Dyes of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (22) No NFA November 2, 2013 May 28, 2016
Certain Monoazo Pigments of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (33) No NFA November 2, 2013 May 28, 2016
Distillate Aromatic Extracts (3) No NFA June 4, 2016 not available
Asphalt and Oxidized Asphalt (2) No NFA June 4, 2016 not available
Coal Tars and their Distillates (6) Yes Add to Schedule 1 June 11, 2016 not available
Petrolatum and Waxes (3) No NFA March 7, 2015 June 11, 2016
Certain Azo Acid Dyes of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (52) No NFA October 25, 2014 June 18, 2016
Rapid Screening of Polymers identified from Phase Two of the Domestic Substances List Inventory Update (275) No NFA February 28, 2015 June 18, 2016
Boric Acid, its Salts and Precursors Substance Grouping (14) Yes Add to Schedule 1 July 23, 2016 not available
Rapid Screening of Substances from Phase Two of the Domestic Substances List Inventory Update (612) No NFA February 28, 2015 August 27, 2016
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – Melamine (1) No NFA October 8, 2016 not available
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – TCP (1) No NFA October 8, 2016 not available
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – DP (1) Yes Add to Schedule 1 October 8, 2016 not available
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – TCPP and TDCPP (2) Yes (TCPP only) Add to Schedule 1 (TCPP); NFA (TDCPP) October 8, 2016 not available
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – EBTBP (1) No NFA October 8, 2016 not available
Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping – DBDPE (1) Yes Add to Schedule 1 October 8, 2016 not available
Nineteen Substances on the Domestic Substances List Associated with Pesticidal Uses (19) No NFA June 6, 2015 October 15, 2016
Triclosan (1) Yes Add to Schedule 1 March 31, 2012 November 26, 2016
Alkyl Sulfates and α-Olefin Sulfonate group (4) No NFA December 10, 2016 not available
Substituted Diphenylamine Substance Grouping (14) No NFA December 10, 2016 not available
Chloral Hydrate (1) No NFA December 17, 2016 not available
Natural Gas Condensates (3) Yes Add to Schedule 1 October 11, 2014 December 31, 2016
Formic Acid and Formates Substance Group (4) No NFA December 31, 2016 not available
Acetic Anhydride (1) No NFA January 28, 2017 not available
Short-chain Alkanes (5) No NFA January 28, 2017 not available
Sulfurized Lard Oil (1) No NFA February 4, 2017 not available
NMP and NEP (2) No NFA February 4, 2017 not available
2-MBS (1) No NFA February 11, 2017 not available
Liquefied Petroleum Gases (2) Yes Add to Schedule 1 October 11, 2014 February 25, 2017
4-Vinylcyclohexene (4-VCH) (1) No NFA February 25, 2017 not available
Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group (7) No NFA March 4, 2017 not available
Certain Azo Disperse Dyes of the Aromatic Azo and Benzidine-based Substance Grouping (74) Yes (Disperse Yellow 3 only) Add to Schedule 1 (Disperse Yellow 3); NFA (73) November 2, 2013 March 11, 2017
Second phase of Polymer Rapid Screening (283) No NFA March 18, 2017 not available
Calcium 2-Ethylhexanoate and 2-Ethylhexyl-2-Ethylhexanoate (2) Yes (2-Ethylhexyl-2-Ethylhexanoate only) Add to Schedule 1 (2-Ethylhexyl-2-Ethylhanoate) March 25, 2017 not available

* The dates are those on which the draft and final notices were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

Along with the results of the screening assessment, the Ministers must publish in the Canada Gazette their final decision by choosing one of the following three “measures”: recommending to the Governor in Council the adding of the substance to Schedule 1 of CEPA (the List of Toxic Substances); adding it to the Priority Substances List for further assessment; or proposing no further action in respect of the substance.

Ministers may recommend the addition of a substance to Schedule 1 of CEPA if a screening assessment shows that a substance meets one or more of the criteria set out in section 64 of CEPA. The Governor in Council may then approve an order specifying its addition to Schedule 1. The decision to recommend adding a substance to Schedule 1 obliges the Ministers to develop a “regulation or instrument respecting preventive or control actions” within specific time periods.

The substances or groups of substances that the Ministers proposed to be added to Schedule 1 of CEPA in 2016-2017 are listed in Table 2.

Table 2: Proposed orders adding substances to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 from April 2016 to March 2017
Substance Draft order
Fuel oil No. 2 April 23, 2016
Triclosan December 10, 2016
Natural gas condensates February 18, 2017
Table 3: Orders adding substances to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 from April 2016 to March 2017
Substance Final order
Microbeads June 29, 2016
4 Industry-restricted petroleum and refinery gases and 40 site-restricted petroleum and refinery gases October 5, 2016
DEHA, PREPOD and Solvent Red 23 December 14, 2016

2.1.5 Risk management activities

In general, when a draft risk assessment proposes a conclusion that the substance is “toxic” under CEPA, a risk management scope is developed under the CMP and published at the same time as the draft assessment report. Risk management scopes are used as discussion documents to engage stakeholders on potential risk management actions. A scope briefly describes the health or environmental concern, the activities potentially impacted and the type of risk management actions being considered. In 2016-2017, the following six scope documents were published:

  • boric acid, its salts and its precursors
  • coal tars and their distillates
  • DBDPE, DP and TCPP from Certain Organic Flame Retardants substance grouping, and
  • 2-ethylhexyl-2-ethylhexanoate.

Similar to the risk management scopes, when the final screening assessment report concludes that a substance is “toxic” under CEPA and proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of the act, a risk management approach document is developed and published at the same time as the final risk assessment report. The risk management approach document provides a more detailed description of the risk management being considered.

In 2016–2017, risk management approach documents were published for the following substances:

  • ethyl carbamate
  • triclosan
  • natural gas condensates
  • liquefied petroleum gases and
  • azo disperse yellow 3

Under the CMP a wide range of risk management instruments are used, including regulations, pollution prevention planning notices, environmental performance agreements, guidelines, codes of practice and significant new activity notification provisions. These instruments can address any aspect of the substance’s life cycle, from the research and development stage through manufacture, use, storage, transport and ultimate disposal or recycling.


On June 1, 2016, ECCC and HC published in Canada Gazette, Part II, the Regulations Repealing the Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992. These regulations repealed the Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 and certain provisions in the Regulations Designating Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999). Only one facility producing PVC operates in Canada and it is subject to Ontario Ministry of the Environment regulations, which establish emission requirements that adequately protect human health.

The Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, or import of specified toxic substances and products that contain these substances, with some exemptions. On October 5, 2016, ECCC published the Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 in the Canada Gazette, Part II, resulting in the addition of five substances to the Regulations: hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD); perfluorooctanoic acid, its salts, and its precursors (collectively referred to as PFOA); long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids, their salts, and their precursors (collectively referred to as LC-PFCAs); polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); and perfluorooctane sulfonate, its salts and its precursors (collectively referred to as PFOS).

On November 5, 2016, ECCC published the proposed Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Substances Regulations, 2012 to modify the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 to revise existing controls on benzenamine, N-phenyl-, reaction products with styrene and 2,4,4-trimethylpentene (BNST). Subsequently, on December 10, 2016, ECCC published a Consultation Document on the CEPA Registry for a 60-day public comment period to inform stakeholders of the Department’s regulatory plan for the substance BNST.

Also on November 5, 2016, ECCC published the proposed Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations. The regulations would prohibit the manufacture, import, sale or offer for sale of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads, including non-prescription drugs and natural health products. The types of toiletries covered include products used for exfoliating or cleansing, such as bath and body products, skin cleansers and toothpaste.

On December 15, 2016, the Government of Canada announced the Government-wide strategy to manage asbestos in Canada. A key element of the strategy is the development of new regulations under CEPA to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos. A Notice of Intent was published in the Canada Gazette in December 2016, stating that the Department of the Environment and the Department of Health are initiating the development of proposed regulations under CEPA. The proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations was published in Canada Gazette, Part I on January 6, 2018. The final regulations are expected to be published by the end of 2018 and would prohibit all future activities, including the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos.

On January 10, 2017, ECCC published a consultation document outlining proposed amendments to the Concentration of Phosphorus in Certain Cleaning Products Regulations. The amendments would align the regulations with the requirements of the World Trade Organization’s agreement on trade facilitation by exempting goods in transit; clarify language of the regulatory text and; provide consistency and standardization of the laboratory accreditation provisions with other regulations under CEPA.

During 2016–2017, ECCC and HC furthered the development of draft regulations addressing releases of VOCs, including Stream 1 and 2 petroleum and refinery gases and Stream 4 liquefied petroleum gases. Key elements of the proposed regulations included a leak detection and repair program, preventive equipment requirements and fenceline monitoring. ECCC and HC continued to consult with stakeholders on these elements in 2016–2017. This included the distribution of a regulatory framework discussion document and detailed cost-benefit analysis assumptions in April 2016.

The Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations, 1998 had established phased out measures for the manufacture and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, including Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). As a first step to more comprehensive measures on HFCs, the Government of Canada introduced in June 2016, the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations, which repealed and replaced the 1998 Regulations. The new regulations introduced a permitting and reporting system to monitor quantities of HFCs imported, manufactured, and exported, with reporting to begin in 2018 for activities that took place in the 2017 calendar year.

The Regulations Amending the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations proposed in November 2016 will control HFCs through the phase-down of consumption of bulk HFCs complemented by controls on specific products containing or designed to contain HFCs, including refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, foams and aerosols. Approximately 100 permits and authorizations were issued in accordance with the Regulations.

The purpose of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 (FHR 2003) is to reduce and prevent emissions of halocarbons to the environment from refrigeration, air conditioning, fire extinguishing and solvent systems that are located on aboriginal or federal lands or are owned by federal departments, boards and agencies, Crown corporations, or federal works and undertakings. In 2016–2017, 14 permits to charge a fire-extinguishing system with a halocarbon were issued by the Minister of Environment under the FHR 2003.

Export Control List

The Export Control List (ECL) in Schedule 3 of CEPA includes substances whose export from Canada is controlled because their use in Canada is prohibited or restricted, or because Canada has agreed, through an international agreement, such as the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (Rotterdam Convention), to control their international trade and requires notification or consent of the country of destination before export. CEPA requires exporters to submit prior notice of export with respect to substances on the Export Control List.

In 2016–2017, 67 export notices were submitted to the Minister of the Environment. However, no permits were requested or issued by the Minister.

An Order amending Schedule 3, the Export Control List, to the act was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on January 11, 2017, to include “Mixtures that contain elemental mercury (CAS 7439-97-6) at a concentration of 95% or more by weight”. The Regulations Amending the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on February 22, 2017 with new comprehensive controls on the export of mercury. Together, these amendments put Canada in a position to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which occurred on April 7, 2017.

Environmental quality guidelines

Environmental quality guidelines provide benchmarks for the quality of the ambient environment as required under section 54. They may be developed nationally through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) as Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (CEQGs) or federally under section 54 of CEPA as Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines (FEQGs).

Table 4 lists the CEQGs that were being developed nationally through CCME in 2016–2017. During the same period, ECCC finalized 2015–2016 work on several FEQGs for various CMP substances (Table 5).

Table 4: Canadian environmental quality guidelines under development in 2016–2017
Environmental compartment Substance
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Carbamazepine
  • Nickel
  • Methanol
  • Zinc
  • Lead
  • perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Over 100 organic and soluble substances
Soil Vapour
  • Approximately 40 organic and volatile substances

*More details are in the Water Quality section, Table 14.

Table 5: Federal environmental quality guidelines in 2016–2017
Environmental compartment Finalized* Under development
  • Chlorinated alkanes (chlorinated paraffins)
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
  • Vanadium
  • Bisphenol A
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Triclosan
  • Chromium (hexavalent)
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Cobalt
  • RDX (energetic material)
  • Selenium
  • Quinoline
  • Chlorinated alkanes (chlorinated paraffins)
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Bisphenol A
Fish Tissue
  • Chlorinated alkanes (chlorinated paraffins)
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Selenium
Wildlife Diet
  • Chlorinated alkanes (chlorinated paraffins)
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
  • Bisphenol A
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
Bird Egg N/A
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
Soil N/A
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Quinoline
Groundwater N/A
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Quinoline

*Published in Canada Gazette in May 2016.

Codes of Practice

The provisions within Part 3 of CEPA (Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice) require the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health to publish codes of practice. Codes of practice are voluntary instruments that identify recommended procedures and practices or environmental controls relating to works, undertakings and activities, including any subsequent monitoring activities with an objective of limiting releases of the substance(s) in question. These set out official national standards that companies and organizations should follow.

In November 2016, HC published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, the final Code of Practice for a Recommended Concentration of 2-(2-Methoxyethoxy) Ethanol (DEGME) in Surface Coating Materials Available to Consumers in Canada. The risk management objective was to further protect human health by reducing the concentration of DEGME in products available to consumers that are surface coating materials.

On February 11, 2017, ECCC published, in the Canada Gazette, Part I, the Code of Practice for the Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-life Lamps Containing Mercury, which is designed to encourage collectors, transporters and recyclers to incorporate best practices in their management of end-of-life mercury-containing lamps, to prevent releases of mercury to the environment. Recognizing that northern and remote regions often face unique challenges that can make it difficult to collect and manage end-of-life mercury-containing lamps, the Code includes additional information on diversion and end-of-life management options that can be used to facilitate the implementation of the best practices.

On February 25, 2017, the final Code of Practice for the Reduction of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emissions from Cutback and Emulsified Asphalt was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The main objective of this Code of Practice is to protect the environment and the health of Canadians while maintaining road safety by recommending best practices that encourage, when suitable, the use of low VOC emitting asphalt. It is anticipated that compliance with the Code would result in annual VOC emission reductions of up to 5000 tonnes from the use of asphalt.

In 2016–2017, ECCC reviewed the implementation report submitted by the one facility that is subject to the Code of Practice for the Management of Tetrabutyltin in Canada. The Department’s review indicated that the facility had continued to implement the procedures and practices identified in the Code of Practice that was put in place in 2011.

Pollution Prevention Planning Notices

The provisions in Part 4 of CEPA (Pollution Prevention) allow the Minister of the Environment to issue a Notice to require designated persons to prepare, implement and report on pollution prevention (P2) plans for toxic substances. Pollution Prevention Planning Notices provide the flexibility for industry to determine the best methods within their processes and activities to meet the risk management objective within the Notice.

In Progress
  • In May 2016, a P2 Planning Notice was published outlining the requirements for preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans in respect of halocarbons used as a refrigerant.
  • A P2 Planning Notice published in 2012 to reduce industrial releases of cyclotetrasiloxane, octamethyl- (siloxane D4) to the aquatic environment required the preparation and implementation of a P2 plan by June 2016. As of the end of the 2016–2017 administrative period, most facilities either met the reduction target after implementing their P2 plan, or were confident that they would meet it.
  • In November 2016, ECCC published an Interim Performance Report summarizing the results achieved by facilities during the implementation of the P2 Notice for BPA in industrial effluents for the 2012 to 2015 time frame. In January 2017, ECCC received declarations of implementation from facilities subjected to the Notice. The review of the declarations is currently underway to determine whether or not additional risk management measures are required.
Final Reports
  • In March 2017, ECCC published its final report summarizing the performance of the P2 Planning Notice for the polyurethane and other foam sector (except polystyrene) in respect of toluene diisocyanates (TDIs). Results indicate that 100% of the reporting facilities have implemented the actions identified in their P2 plan and they have met the risk management objective of the Notice.
Environmental performance agreements

An environmental performance agreement (EPA) is negotiated around the key principles and design criteria outlined in ECCC’s policy framework for EPAs to achieve specified environmental results.

In 2016–2017, under the environmental performance agreement 2015–2020 respecting the use of tin stabilizers in the vinyl industry, a verification team consisting of the Vinyl Council of Canada and ECCC representatives conducted reverification of facilities to determine whether the practices and procedures identified in the guideline for the environmental management of tin stabilizers in Canada are being implemented or continue to be implemented to prevent the releases of tin stabilizers into the aquatic environment. The verifications confirmed that all four facilities had implemented or continued to implement the practices and procedures outlined in the guideline. All the other facilities using tin stabilizers also reported having continued to implement the guideline.

Other risk management tools

Significant new activity requirements

A significant new activity (SNAc) requirement is applied when a substance has been assessed and there is a suspicion that new activities may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment. When it is applied, any major changes in the way it is used must be reported to the government. This ensures that departmental experts can evaluate whether the new use of a substance poses a new or increased risk to human health or the environment, and determine if risk management should be considered as a result of the new use.

ECCC and HC continued with their review of all SNAc notices and orders in force to ensure consistencies with current policies. SNAc notices and orders are being reviewed between 2014 and 2017 in groups of similar chemistry (e.g., nanomaterials) or common elements (e.g., notices and orders with consumer product references). SNAc review groups include:

  • aromatic azo- and benzidine-based substances
  • nanomaterials
  • new and existing substances with consumer product wording
  • high hazard substances, not in commerce substances, and
  • remaining new and existing substances

As a result of the review, SNAc notices or orders may be rescinded, amended or left unchanged. More information on the SNAc review is available online.

In 2016–2017 under CEPA:

  • the Minister of the Environment issued 5 SNAc Notices for new substances (Table 6)
  • twenty-five (25) SNAc Notices and Orders were rescinded (Table 7)
  • three (3) SNAc Notices were issued for existing substances (Table 8)
  • nineteen (19) SNAc Notices of Intent were issued for existing substances (Table 9)
Table 6: Significant new activity notices for new substances from April 2016 to March 2017
Substance Publication datea
Boron Phosphate (B(PO4)), CAS Registry No. 13308-51-5 June 25, 2016
Fatty acids, C12-20, 1, 2,2,6,6-pentamethyl-4-piperidinyl esters, CAS Registry No. 1357160-95-2 August 20, 2016
Heteromonocycle, 2-methyl-, polymer with oxirane, carboxymethyl hexadecyl ether, Confidential Accession No. 19101-3 February 18, 2017
Heteromonocycle, 2-methyl-, polymer with oxirane, carboxymethyl octadecyl ether, Confidential Accession No. 19100-2 February 18, 2017
2-propanol, 1-[bis(2-hydroxyethyl)amino]- , CAS Registry No. 6712-98-7 March 4, 2017

a The dates are those on which the final notices or orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

Table 7: Significant new activity notices and orders rescinded between April 2016 and March 2017
Substance Publication dateb
2-Naphthalenol, 1-(1-naphthalenylazo)-, CAS Registry No. 2653-64-7 October 19, 2016
Pyridinium, 1-[2-[[4-[(2-chloro-4-nitrophenyl)azo]phenyl]ethylamino]ethyl]-, acetate, CAS Registry No. 59709-10-3 October 19, 2016
2-Naphthalenesulfonic acid, 5-[[4-(4-cyclohexylphenoxy)-2-sulfophenyl]azo]-6-[(2,6-dimethylphenyl)amino]-4-hydroxy-, disodium salt, CAS Registry No. 71720-89-3 October 19, 2016
3-Pyridinecarbonitrile, 5-[[4-[(2,6-dichloro-4-nitrophenyl)azo]-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl]azo]-2,6-bis[(2-methoxyethyl)amino]-4-methyl-, CAS Registry No. 73528-78-6 October 19, 2016
1,7-Naphthalenedisulfonic acid, 6-[[2-(4-cyclohexylphenoxy)phenyl]azo]-4-[[(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetyl]amino]-5-hydroxy-, disodium salt, CAS Registry No. 83027-51-4 October 19, 2016
1,7-Naphthalenedisulfonic acid, 6-[[2-(2-cyclohexylphenoxy)phenyl]azo]-4-[[(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetyl]amino]-5-hydroxy-, disodium salt, CAS Registry No. 83027-52-5 October 19, 2016
2-Naphthalenecarboxamide, 4-[(2,4-dinitrophenyl)azo]-3-hydroxy-N-phenyl-, CAS Registry No. 85005-63-6 October 19, 2016
3-Pyridinecarbonitrile, 5-[[2-chloro-4-(phenylazo)phenyl]azo]-2,6-bis[(3-methoxypropyl)amino]-4-methyl-, CAS Registry No. 85392-21-8 October 19, 2016
Benzenesulfonic acid, 5-amino-2,4-dimethyl-, diazotized, coupled with diazotized 2,4-, 2,5-and 2,6-xylidine and 4-[(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)azo]benzenesulfonic acid, sodium salts, CAS Registry No. 90218-20-5 October 19, 2016
2,7-Naphthalenedisulfonic acid, 5-amino-4-hydroxy-3-[[6-sulfo-4-[(4-sulfo-1-naphthalenyl)azo]-1-naphthalenyl]azo]-, diazotized, coupled with diazotized 4-nitrobenzenamine and resorcinol, potassium sodium salts, CAS Registry No. 90459-02-2 October 19, 2016
2-Naphthalenecarboxamide, N-(2-ethoxyphenyl)-3-hydroxy-4-[(2-nitrophenyl)azo]- , CAS Registry No. 94199-57-2 October 19, 2016
1-Naphthalenediazonium, 4-[[4-[(4-nitro-2-sulfophenyl)amino]phenyl]azo]-6-sulfo-, chloride, reaction products with formaldehyde and salicylic acid, ammonium sodium salts, CAS Registry No. 114910-04-2 October 19, 2016
Pigment Yellow 60, CAS Registry No. 6407-74-5 October 19, 2016
Solvent Yellow 18, CAS Registry No. 6407-78-9 October 19, 2016
Solvent Red 3, CAS Registry No. 6535-42-8 October 19, 2016
Pigment Red 251, CAS Registry No. 74336-60-0 October 19, 2016
Cyclopentane, 1,1,2,2,3,3,4-heptafluoro-, CAS Registry No. 15290-77-4 February 11, 2017
Difluoromethane, CAS Registry No. 75-10-5 February 22, 2017
Pentafluoroethane, CAS Registry No. 354-33-6 February 22, 2017
1,1,1,3,3-pentafluorobutane, CAS Registry No. 406-58-6 February 22, 2017
1,1,1-trifluoroethane, CAS Registry No. 420-46-2 February 22, 2017
1,1,1,2,3,3,3-heptafluoropropane, CAS Registry No. 431-89-0 February 22, 2017
Propane, 1,1,1,3,3-pentafluoro-, CAS Registry No. 460-73-1 February 22, 2017
1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoropropane, CAS Registry No. 690-39-1 February 22, 2017
Pentane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,4,5,5,5-decafluoro-, CAS Registry No. 138495-42-8 February 22, 2017

b The dates are those on which the final notices or orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I or Part II.

Table 8: Significant new activity orders for existing substances from April 2016 to March 2017
Assessment Meet section 64 criteria Number of substances Notice of intentc Final orderd
Ethanol, 2-[(2-aminoethyl)amino]-, CAS Registry No. 111-41-1 No 1 June 25, 2016 Pending
Nineteen substances on the Domestic Substances List associated with pesticidal uses No 25 November 12, 2016 Pending
Rapid screening of substances from phase one and phase two of the Domestic Substances List inventory update No 54 December 3, 2016 Pending

c The date is that on which the notices of intent and final orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I or Part II, respectively.

d Six of the substances in this notice of intent are currently subject to the SNAc requirements of CEPA and are being reviewed; the final order will amend the SNAc requirements for these substances.

Table 9: Significant new activity notices of intent for existing substances from April 2016 to March 2017
Substance Publication datee
DES (diethyl sulfate) January 14, 2017
methyloxirane January 14, 2017
DMS (dimethyl sulfate) January 14, 2017
benzyl chloride January 14, 2017
ethyloxirane January 14, 2017
epichlorohydrin January 14, 2017
hydroquinone January 14, 2017
thiourea January 14, 2017
2-nitropropane January 14, 2017
TCEP (ethanol, 2-chloro-, phosphate (3:1) January 14, 2017
Michler's ketone January 14, 2017
methyl eugenol January 14, 2017
vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) January 14, 2017
pigment red 3 January 14, 2017
n-BGE January 14, 2017
TGOPE January 14, 2017
potassium bromate January 14, 2017
DTBSBP January 14, 2017
MAPBAP acetate January 14, 2017

e The date is that on which the notices of intent and final orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I or Part II, respectively.

Conditions and prohibitions on new substances

When the assessment of a new substance identifies a risk to human health or the environment, CEPA empowers the Minister of the Environment to intervene prior to or during the earliest stages of its introduction into Canada. In this case, there are three actions that may be taken. The Minister may:

  • permit the manufacture or import of the substance subject to specified conditions; or
  • prohibit the manufacture or import of the substance; or
  • request additional information considered necessary for the purpose of assessment. The notifier shall not manufacture or import the substance until supplementary information or test results have been submitted and assessed

Of 473 notifications for new substances received in 2016–2017, the Minister issued three ministerial conditions (Table 10).

Table 10: Notices of ministerial conditions for new substances from April 2016 to March 2017
Substance Publication datef
1-propanaminium, 3-amino-N-(carboxymethyl)-N,N-dimethyl-, N(C8-18 and C18-unsatd. acyl) derivs., inner salts April 30, 2016
1,2-cyclohexanedicarboxylic acid, 1-butyl 2-(phenylmethyl) ester October 22, 2016
1-propanaminium, 3-amino-N-(carboxymethyl)-N,N-dimethyl-, N-C8-18 acyl derivs., inner salts December 24, 2016

f The dates are those on which the notices were published in the Canada Gazette.

2.2 Living organisms

Products of biotechnology that are living organisms are regulated for health and safety purposes by a variety of federal departments and agencies across the government. For example, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is an important regulator of crop plants and micro-organisms used in animal feeds. CEPA sets the federal standard for assessment and risk management of new and existing living organisms. Other Canadian legislation meeting this standard is listed in Schedule 4 of CEPA. Living organisms imported or manufactured for a use regulated under a Schedule 4-listed Act are exempted from the New Substances provisions in CEPA. Living organisms manufactured or imported for a use not covered by Schedule 4-listed Acts are regulated under CEPA. These include naturally occurring and genetically modified organisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and higher organisms such as fish or pigs) used for various environmental, industrial and commercial purposes.

CEPA establishes an assessment process for living organisms that are new animate products of biotechnology, which mirrors provisions in Part 5 of CEPA respecting new substances that are chemicals or polymers. In addition, paragraph 74(b) of the act requires that all living organisms on the DSL (about 68 existing micro-organisms) undergo a screening assessment to determine whether the living organism is toxic or capable of becoming toxic.

2.2.1 Research

Government research on living organisms focuses on determining hazardous characteristics and the pathogenicity potential of various biotechnology microbes in order to support screening assessments. The research is coordinated jointly with regulators at HC and ECCC and focuses mainly on micro-organisms on the CEPA DSL.

Research conducted during 2016–2017 focused on data analysis to support the assessment on the remaining Domestic Substances List micro-organisms, such as: the microbial consortium; detection of virulence and pathogenicity of industrial Saccharomyces strains; and the characterization and exposure of cleaning products that contain micro-organisms as the active ingredients.

In addition, research continued on a number of subjects, including: assessing the viability and identification of a mixture of micro-organisms (consortium) in artificial and commercial products using genomic tools; animal models to identify opportunistic pathogens; and cell-based immunology/toxicology methods to reduce animal usage.

2.2.2 Risk assessments

Risk assessment of new animate products of biotechnology

During 2016–2017, 22 notifications of new animate products of biotechnology were received and of those, 19 were assessed as new animate products under the New Substances Notification Regulations (Organisms). All notifications that are accepted as new animate products are assessed within the statutory assessment period.

During 2016–2017, three pre-notification consultations were held to help companies better understand the notification requirements for their specific organism before submitting a notification.

Risk assessment of existing animate products of biotechnology

ECCC and HC jointly perform the screening assessment of micro-organisms listed on the DSL. In 2016–2017, draft screening assessments for eight micro-organisms were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 60-day public comment period. Final screening assessments for five micro-organisms were also published in the Canada Gazette, Part I (see Table 11). None of these organisms met the criteria in section 64 of the act, therefore no further action was proposed.

Table 11: Summary of existing living organisms assessment decisions published from April 2016 to March 2017
(NFA = no further action, N/A = not applicable)
Substances (and number of substances) Meet section 64 criteria Proposed measure Draft noticeg Final noticeg
Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain F53 (1) No NFA April 9, 2016 January 21, 2017
Candida utilis strain ATCC 9950 (1) No NFA May 23, 2015 May 28, 2016
Pseudomonas species strain ATCC 13867 (1) No NFA May 23, 2015 May 28. 2016
Bacillus circulans strain ATCC 9500 (1) No NFA January 21, 2017 N/A
Bacillus megaterium strain ATCC 14581 (1) No NFA January 21, 2017 N/A
Chaetomium globosum strain ATCC 6205 (1) No NFA January 21, 2017 N/A
Micrococcus luteus strain ATCC 4698 (1) No NFA January 21, 2017 N/A
Pseudomonas putida strains ATCC 12633, ATCC 31483, ATGCC 31800 and ATCC 700369 (4) No NFA March 19, 2016 January 21, 2017
Aspergillus oryzae strain ATCC 11866 (1) No NFA March 19, 2016 January 21, 2017
Trichoderma reesei strain ATCC 74252 (1) No NFA February 4, 2017 N/A
Arthrobacter globiformis strain ATCC 8010 (1) No NFA February 18, 2017 N/A
Cellulomonas biazotea strain ATCC 486 (1) No NFA February 18, 2017 N/A

g The dates are those on which the draft and final notices were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

2.2.3 Risk management activities

Significant new activity requirements

A final order applying the SNAc provisions to one new living organism was published in June 2016 (Table 12).

Table 12: Significant new activity notices for new living organisms from April 2016 to March 2017
Assessment Publication dateh
Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing pyruvate formate lyase activating enzyme, pyruvate formate lyase, and bifunctional acetaldehyde-CoA/alcohol dehydrogenase from Bifidobacterium adolescentis and a glucoamylase from Saccharomycopsis fibuligera June 25, 2016

h The dates are those on which the Notices were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

In 2016–2017, a final order applying the SNAc provisions to one existing living organism and a notice of intent to apply the SNAc provisions for two existing living organisms were published (Table 13).

Table 13: Significant new activity notices of intent and orders for existing living organisms from April 2016 to March 2017
Assessment Number of strains Notice of intenti Final orderi
Pseudomonas fluorescens ATCC 13525 1 February 14, 2015 July 13, 2016
Aspergillus oryzae ATCC 11866 1 January 21, 2017 Pending
Pseudomonas putida 4 January 21, 2017 Pending

i The date is that on which the notices of intent and final orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I or Part II, respectively.

2.3 Air pollutants and greenhouse gases

Outdoor air pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs) originate from numerous domestic sources, such as industry and transportation, as well as transboundary transport of air pollution from other countries.

2.3.1 Monitoring

Monitoring and reporting activities are important for identifying and tracking levels and trends related to air pollutants that impact both the environment and human health.

Ambient (outdoor) air quality monitoring informs air quality management in Canada, including the evaluation of progress relative to the Canadian ambient air quality standards. The data is used for validation of numerical air quality prediction models, and for evaluating the benefits and effectiveness of control measures, as well as for assessments of the impact of air pollution on Canadians and the environment.

ECCC monitors ambient air quality across the country through two complementary networks known as the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) program and the Canadian air and precipitation monitoring network (CAPMoN) (Figure 3). NAPS is managed by ECCC via a cooperative agreement with the provinces, territories and some municipalities in order to provide long-term air quality data from populated regions of Canada. CAPMoN provides information on regional patterns and trends of atmospheric pollutants in both air and precipitation at rural and remote sites.

Additional air pollutant monitoring carried out by ECCC includes AEROCAN, a member of NASA’s global AERONET satellite network, which takes optical readings of solar radiation in order to measure atmospheric aerosols. The Canadian Brewer Spectrophotometer Network measures total column ozone and spectral UV radiation, providing long-term stratospheric ozone data. The Canadian Ozonesonde Network measures vertical column ozone from ground level up to 36 km altitude by launching weekly ozonesondes affixed to balloons, providing long-term ozone data.

Figure 3: Map of air pollutant monitoring sites

Figure 3: Map of air pollutant monitoring sites
Long description for figure 3

This map indicates the sites that are monitored for ambient air quality quality across the country through two complementary networks known as the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) program and the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN).

* Some NAPS sites may not be visible in places where they are close together.

The Canadian Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Program includes observations of carbon dioxide and other GHGs from 16 long-term measurement sites across Canada (Figure 4). Among the sites is the Alert global atmosphere watch observatory. Alert serves as one of three global GHG inter-comparison sites to ensure consistent measurement of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas concentrations across the world. The information compiled from these monitoring sites is available on-line.

Figure 4: Canadian Greenhouse Gas Measurement Program monitoring sites

Figure 4: Canadian Greenhouse Gas Measurement Program monitoring sites
Long  description for figure 4

Canada's GHG monitoring is part of the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Program. Environment Canada's Long Term Greenhouse Gas sites are located in: Alert, Inuvik, Churchill, Behohoko, Lac Labiche, Estevan Pt., Abbotsford, Esther, Bratts Lake, East Trout Lake, Chibougamau, Fraserdale, CARE Egbert, Toronto, Sable Island.

Measurements of atmospheric CO2 began in March 1975 at Alert (Figure 5). The seasonal decline in late May to early June is due to the transport of air from southern latitudes that is depleted in CO2 from photosynthetic uptake. The annual average CO2 values at Alert in 2016 was 404.3 parts per million (ppm). The annual average CO2 value at Alert in 2015 was 402.1 ppm; the first year in which the annual mean exceeded 400 ppm. The annual average CO2 values were 399.7 and 397.9 ppm in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

In addition to CO2, ECCC also conducts measurements of atmospheric methane (CH4), which began in August 1985 at Alert, Nunavut (Figure 6). The annual average CH4 value at Alert in 2016 was 1925.7 parts per billion (ppb). The rate in the annual increase in CH4 had steadily declined since the late 1980s and hovered around zero from 1999 to 2006, reflecting a near global balance between emissions and removal by atmospheric chemical processes. However, since 2007, CH4 has increased every year on average by 6 ppb per year.

Figure 5: Atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at Alert, Nunavut

Figure 5: Atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at Alert, Nunavut
Long description for figure 5

This graph shows the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) measured in Alert, Nunavut, by year, starting in March, 1975.

Figure 6: Atmospheric methane measured at Alert, Nunavut

Figure 6: Atmospheric methane measured at Alert, Nunavut
Long description for figure 6

This graph shows the level of atmospheric methane (CH4) measured in Alert, Nunavut, by year, starting in August, 1985.

ECCC makes its atmospheric monitoring data available to the public through national and international databases, e.g. the Government of Canada open data portal; World Meteorological Organization (WMO); World Data Centres for GHGs; WMO World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry; and the WMO World Ozone and Ultraviolet Data Centre, which is operated by the Meteorological Service of Canada.

More information about monitoring activities is available online.

2.3.2 Research

Air quality research efforts help quantify priority air pollutants and determine trends, improve and validate air quality predictions both in the near term and into the future within the national and global context, as well as enhance understanding of the impacts of air pollutant sources on Canadians and the environment.  The research also tackles emerging issues and underpins and informs evidence-based policy decision-making, to help ensure policymakers focus their efforts appropriately.

During 2016–2017, research was carried out by ECCC under the Climate Change and Air Pollution (CCAP) and Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) programs. In addition, ongoing research by ECCC continued on a wide range of air pollution and GHG topics. This included improving understanding of GHG sources and sinks; utilizing surface and satellite GHG observations; characterization and measurement of atmospheric aerosols, including black carbon; and measuring the impact of ship emissions in the Arctic environment. It also included reported research results on topics such as atmospheric mercury, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tropospheric and stratospheric ozone, particulate matter and aerosols, air pollution from forest fires, air pollutants in the transportation sector and more. ECCC scientists published approximately 85 research papers related to air pollutants and GHGs in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Case study: New technique for detecting global sulphur dioxide emissionsFootnote 4

ECCC scientists, in collaboration with NASA and Canadian and American universities, have developed a new technique for using satellite measurements to quantify sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from large sources. Previously unidentified sources of SO2 emissions are being detected.

SO2 is designated as a criteria air contaminant in Canada because of the risk it poses to human health and the environment. SO2 in the atmosphere forms sulphuric acid and fine particulate matter, which are significant contributors to smog and acid deposition. Traditionally, SO2 emissions were measured by industry and reported to governments.

The new technique was applied to observations from the ozone monitoring instrument (OMI) aboard NASA’s Aura satellite. This analysis identified 39 large, previously unreported, major anthropogenic sources of SO2 emissions which rank among the world’s 500 largest. These unreported sources are distributed across the globe (as shown in Figure 7), but also clustered in some regions such as the Middle East, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.

By combining all OMI-derived emissions, ECCC researchers developed the first space-based emissions inventory, encompassing all significant continuously emitting point sources of SO2 globally, of which there were 491. This inventory also includes emissions from over 75 volcanoes (see Figure 7), many of which had been previously unmeasured. It also revealed gaps in the accuracy of reported SO2 emissions, both from the missing sources and from sources whose emissions appeared to be underreported.

In Canada, total SO2 emissions were found to have decreased by 67% between 2005 and 2014, providing an independent verification of the efficacy of recent regulations and emissions reporting procedures. The use of space-based monitoring to verify emission inventories has the potential to be extended to other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, methane and carbon dioxide, and ECCC researchers are actively assessing this exciting technology.

Case study: New technique for detecting global sulphur dioxide emissionsFootnote 4

Figure 7: Map of all missing, or previously unreported, sources of SO2

Figure 7: Map of all missing, or previously unreported, sources of SO2

The circles indicate the emission strength of the source (in kilotonnes per year).

Triangles indicate volcanic sources of SO2 that were detected.

Countries are colour coded according to the fraction of the national total SO2 emissions that were found to be missing.

Long description for figure 7

A map of the world has countries colour coded based on the percentage of SO2 emissions that are missing or previously unreported from the countries inventories. The countries that have the highest percentage of missing SO2 emissions (30 to 100 percent) are in central America, the Middle East, southern and eastern parts of Africa, as well as in south east Asia. Russia, China and South Africa have around 0 to 10 percent of missing emissions. While Canada, United States, Australia, Europe, South America and most of Africa are indicated as having 0 percent missing emissions.

Atmospheric mercury research included a review of transport models, measurement methods and calculations to quantify mercury dry deposition; source apportionment and receptor model analysis of mercury sources to Canada; mechanisms driving spatiotemporal variations in environmental mercury levels; atmospheric mercury cycling in high latitudes; and a new modelling approach for determining the transport and fate of mercury in the oceans.

Research on the subject of nitrogen oxides included improvements to the approach used to derive nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) observations. Sulphur dioxide research included identification of large point emission sources using OMI satellite observations, review of SO2 trends in the first decade of OMI observations, and evaluation of vertical column SO2 measurements over the oil sands from the OMI satellite.

Case study: ECCC carbon assimilation systemFootnote 5

Scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) are actively studying the sources of greenhouse gases across Canada and the rest of the Earth. Fossil fuel emissions and industrial production are the major anthropogenic sources of CO2, but there are also natural sources and sinks from the biosphere and the oceans, as well as from forest fires.

A model can be used to simulate greenhouse gas concentrations based on estimates of emissions and observations. By comparing the simulated and measured concentrations, the sources and sinks that contribute to a specific observation station can be estimated. This process of combining atmospheric model output and measurements in a physical-statistical way is known as “data assimilation”.

The ECCC carbon assimilation system uses greenhouse gas observations from a variety of platforms (ground based, aircraft, and satellite) to allow scientists to better understand greenhouse gas sources and sinks (Figure 8). With the carbon assimilation system, we can:

  • Provide maps of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in the recent past
  • Estimate natural sources and sinks of CO2 and CH4, and their uncertainties
  • Perform virtual experiments to determine the optimal locations of our ECCC measurement network

The basis of the carbon assimilation system is ECCC’s operational weather forecast model (global environmental multi-scale). An animation of the system can be viewed online.

Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds research included indoor and outdoor concentration ratios; comprehensive measurements of concentrations in the springtime Arctic to inform forecasting; and an assessment of VOC emissions from the oil sands was completed that revealed significant differences between the study’s aircraft-based measurements and emissions rates reported using current estimation techniques.

Case study: Comparing observed and reported volatile organic compounds emissions from oil sands facilities in AlbertaFootnote 6

In Canada, large-scale industrial activities, such as the oil sands operations in Alberta, which meet reporting requirements, are legally required to report the magnitude of pollution emissions to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) using the most appropriate estimation methods. ECCC scientists recently published the findings from a study that compared VOC emissions rates measured from four major oil sands surface mining operations with the VOC emissions these facilities reported to the NPRI using these estimation methods.

Airborne measurements of an extensive set of air pollutants over the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta were conducted during a four week period in the summer of 2013 in support of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Program. Instrumentation was installed aboard a Convair-580 research aircraft provided by the National Research Council of Canada. The aircraft flew 22 flights over oil sands surface mining facilities during the study period.

The research used the data collected for hundreds of VOCs during flight. After emissions from other sources were accounted for, the analysis found that both the total and individual VOC emissions were being underestimated by the surface mining facilities in their reports to the NPRI, in some cases by a large margin (Figure 8). This suggested that the currently accepted estimation methods for VOC emissions need to be improved. The research shows that multipollutant emissions reports from large and complex facilities need to be more carefully examined to ensure accuracy and completeness before being meaningfully used to assess the environmental and health impacts from such emissions.

Figure 8: VOC emissions rates for four surface mining facilities in the oil sands region compared to facility total VOC emission rates reported to the NPRI for 2013 (species refers to VOC species)

Figure 8: VOC emissions rates for four surface mining facilities in the oil sands region


SML=Syncrude Mildred Lake
SUN=Suncor Energy Millenium and Steepbank
CNRL=Canadian Natural Resources Limited Horizon
SAJ=Shell Albian and Jackpine

Long description for figure 8

The VOC emissions rates measured from four surface mining facilities in the oil sands region are compared to the facility VOC emission rates reported to the NPRI in 2013 by the use of histograms. All of the reported rates are substantially lower than the measured rates. For the Syncrude Mildred Lake facility the measured emission rate was just under 50 tons/day, while the reported rate was around 25 tons/day. For the Suncor Energy Millenium and Steepbark facility the measured emissions rate was around 45 tons/day, while the reported rate was around 17 tons/day. For the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Horizon facility the measured rate was around 50 tons/day, while the reported facility was around 15 tons/day. For the Shell Albian and Jackpine facility the measured rate was 42 tons/day, while the reported rate was around 10 tons/day. The standard deviation for the emission rates are indicated on each of the histograms and are generally plus or minus approximately 20-30% of the total emission rate, except for the rates reported by the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Horizon facility and the Shell Albian and Jackpine facility which have very low standard deviations.

Ozone research included re-evaluating and improving the dataset of long-term tropospheric and stratospheric ozonesondeFootnote 7 measurements, evaluating the effects of observational sampling bias, and climate variability, on trends; assessing satellite ozone data records; and comparing ground-based ozonesonde and stratospheric ozone lidarootnote 8 measurements.

Particulate matter and aerosols research included assessing the effects of particle size on summertime Arctic cloud formation; secondary organic aerosols formation from biogenic sources and oil sands operations; use of satellite data to monitor trends in aerosol optical depth in oil sands region; and a study looking at dimethyl sulfide mixing ratios and cloud formation in the summertime Arctic atmosphere. Research results were also published through collaborations supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Climate Change and Atmospheric Research initiative NETCARE (network for the characterization of aaerosols in remote environments), looking at the impact of seabird emissions of ammonia on particle formation in the Arctic.

ECCC researchers have measured pollutants over the Canadian oil sands region as part of the Canada-Alberta Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Program. Oil sands operations were found to be a large source of secondary organic aerosolsFootnote 9. Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) is formed from the oxidation of hydrocarbon gases in the atmosphere, becoming a large component of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the oil sands and globally. PM2.5 has been linked to negative impacts on air quality, human health and climate. Researchers found that the SOA downwind of the oil sands to be dominated by the oxidation products of bitumen vapour, likely released during open air mining and/or processing. During the study period, the rates of production of SOA were estimated at 45-84 tonnes per day. These are comparable to the rates produced by the greater Toronto area.

Research on air pollution from forest fires included a project to assess the impact on air quality from long-range transport of forest fire smoke, as well as an assessment of the FireWorkFootnote 10 air quality forecasting system.

Transport sector air pollution research included analysis of electric vehicle performance; characterizing exhaust emissions from various alternative fuels in a range of driving conditions; and assessment of black carbon and particulate matter emitted from vehicles under various driving conditions. During 2016–2017, ECCC also undertook a study into the state of contaminated fuels in Canada with a focus on reaching out to stakeholders that may handle such fuels.

Research also included aircraft- and ground-based studies in the Arctic to assess how well air quality models incorporate air turbulence; the use of airborne lidar to measure ozone and aerosol over the oil sands region; a study of air pollutant levels before and after the implementation of combined local and regional emissions regulations in order to assess their effectiveness to improve air quality; and an assessment of concentration trends, regional predictive models and source apportionment. Three dimensional global maps were developed based on 11 years of aircraft-based carbon monoxide measurements. An assessment was done of long-term atmospheric ammonia trends at urban, rural and remote sites across North America.

In 2016–2017, ECCC released the full assessment report of the current state of scientific knowledge on mercury in Canada. Together with the summary reports published the previous year, this assessment is the first comprehensive evaluation of mercury in the Canadian environment. The assessment report is structured to follow mercury through the ecosystem from source to sink. The Canadian mercury science assessment report is available online.

In 2016–2017, HC continued to conduct research on human exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollutants and their health impacts in order to guide actions to address air pollution by governments, industries, other organizations and individuals. HC scientists led or contributed to 48 studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals. These addressed issues such as the impact of air pollution exposure on respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pregnancy outcomes, and dementia. Others studies investigated determinants of air pollution exposure in various environments and provided information of use to local air quality management and population health studies.

More than 25 new research projects on air quality were initiated by HC. The projects will generate information that can be used to support regulatory and individual decisions. They include new approaches to measuring the potency of air pollutants, understanding mechanisms for air pollution health effects, measuring the impacts on vulnerable populations and evaluating the contributions that various sources (e.g. wood smoke) make to health outcomes.

2.3.3 Risk management activities

Different instruments are available under the authorities provided by CEPA to limit and reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from vehicles, engines and fuels, consumer and commercial products, and industrial sectors, as well as for establishing national ambient air quality objectives to drive air quality improvements.

The Air Quality Management System (AQMS), agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers in 2012, provides a comprehensive approach to reducing pollution and improve the health of Canadians and the environment. The AQMS includes: 1) Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS); 2) a framework for air quality management through local air zones and regional airsheds; 3) industrial emission requirements for major industries; 4) an intergovernmental working group for enhanced collaboration and the reduction of emissions from mobile sources, and; 5) reporting to Canadians. CEPA provides authorities to establish CAAQS as environmental quality objectives to be met across the country and to develop and administer regulatory and non-regulatory instruments to reduce the releases of air pollutants and GHGs.

CAAQS provide the drivers for air quality management actions across the country. ECCC leads the  process under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to develop, review and amend CAAQS.

During 2016-17 work continued to develop the CAAQS for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and work was initiated to develop CAAQS for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

In May 2016, a Human Health Risk Assessment for Ambient Nitrogen Dioxide was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I in support of the development of CAAQS for NO2.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the environment announced new CAAQS for SO2 in the fall of 2016 and for NO2 in the fall of 2017. CAAQS for SO2 and NO2 were subsequently established as environmental quality objectives under CEPA in October and December 2017, respectively.

Industrial sector emission requirements

On June 17, 2016, the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations came into force. These Regulations establish nationally consistent industrial emissions requirements. They limit nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from large industrial boilers and heaters and stationary spark-ignition engines used in several industrial sectors, that burn gaseous fuels (like natural gas). The Regulations also limit NOx and SO2 emissions from kilns at cement manufacturing facilities. Theywill contribute significantly to reducing emissions that contribute to smog and acid rain, including 2,000 kilotonnes of NOx emission reductions in the first 19 years.

On May 28, 2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the code of practice to reduce emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from the primary aluminum sector, and the code of practice to reduce fugitive emissions of total particulate matter and volatile organic compounds from the iron, steel and ilmenite sector.

The environmental performance agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan concerning air emissions of PAHs ended in December 2014. A final public report was published by ECCC in March 2016. The final report and information about the agreement are available online.

Oil and gas sector emission requirements

Methane is a potent GHG, with a global warming potential 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. The federal government has committed to reduce methane emissions by 40-45 percent by 2025. In 2016-2017, ECCC consulted extensively with provinces, territories, industry, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and Indigenous peoples to develop robust and cost-effective regulations. Technical information was shared to inform regulatory development, including regulatory design and underlying analysis, emissions modelling, and the cost-benefit analysis methodology. As a result of over 150 hours of discussions with partners and stakeholders, a number of important changes were made to ECCC’s proposed regulatory approach to reduce costs and increase efficiency, while ensuring the methane reduction target was still met.

Regulations focusing on reducing methane emissions from upstream activities are in development. They will apply to oil and gas facilities responsible for the extraction, production, primary processing, and transportation of crude oil and natural gas. The proposed requirements target five key methane sources: 1) fugitive equipment leaks; 2) venting; 3) well completions by hydraulic fracturing; 4) compressors; and 5) pneumatic devices.

The outcome-based federal approach also provides for the establishment of equivalency agreements with provinces and territories, allowing them to develop tailored regional approaches to replace the federal regulations, so long as the provincial or territorial approaches are legally-binding and achieve equivalent methane emission reductions.

Electricity sector emissions requirements

In November 2016, ECCC’s proposed regulatory initiative to develop air emission standards for new stationary diesel (compression-ignition) engines was included in ECCC’s 2017-2019 forward regulatory plan. These regulations are being developed under CEPA as part of the pan-Canadian efforts to reduce reliance on diesel and the department’s efforts to address short-lived climate pollutants and air pollutants.

On December 17, 2016, a Notice was published to inform the public of the Government’s intention to amend the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation Electricity Regulations. The amendments accelerate the phase out of traditional coal-fired electricity. They require traditional coal-fired units to meet an emissions limit of 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per gigawatt hour of electricity produced (t/GWh) by no later than 2030. To support the transition away from coal towards cleaner sources of generation, regulations for natural gas-fired electricity are also being developed under CEPA. These will ensure that new natural gas-fired electricity generation is efficient and will set clear parameters around the use of boilers converted from coal to run on natural gas.

During 2016–2017, ECCC established separate agreements in principle to establish equivalency agreements under CEPA with Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. There is Canada–Nova Scotia equivalency agreement on the existing coal fired regulations which took effect in July 2015 and set to terminate at the end of 2019.

The agreement in principle with Nova Scotia includes a commitment to work together to negotiate a new equivalency agreement on the amendments to existing regulations, while the agreement in principle with Saskatchewan refers to the existing regulations.

Transportation sector emission requirements

ECCC implements six vehicle and engine regulations and nine fuel regulations under CEPA.

ECCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continued to collaborate closely under the framework of the Canada U.S. air quality committee towards the development of aligned vehicle and engine emission standards, related fuel quality regulations and their coordinated implementation.

Greenhouse gas emissions regulations

On March 4, 2017, ECCC proposed published amendments to the Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations, in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The regulations would introduce more stringent GHG emission standards that begin with the 2021 model year for on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines. The proposed amendments would also amend two other regulations (the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations and the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations) to ensure consistency with existing on-road vehicle and engine emission regulations and maintain alignment with U.S. regulatory provisions. The Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations (Light-Duty Vehicle) regulations establish progressively more stringent GHG emission standards for light-duty vehicles of model years up to 2025, in alignment with the U.S. national standards.

Air pollutant emission regulations

On June 6, 2016, ECCC published proposed amendments to the Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations, in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The regulations would decrease exhaust and evaporative emissions of air pollutants from off-road engines using a spark plug, or other sparking device, and producing no more than 19 kW of power.

Regulatory administration of the transportation regulations

ECCC administers a compliance program under the transportation and fuels regulations. This includes processing of regulatory reports, importation declarations, managing defects and recalls and testing of selected vehicles and engines to verify compliance with the regulations.

Some of the transportation regulations require companies to submit annual reports documenting fleet performance, the quantity of products or fuel quality parameters. During 2016–2017, the department received over 330 regulatory reports for vehicles and engines and over 750 reports for fuels.

In 2016–2017, ECCC processed about 685 Canada-uniqueFootnote 11 submissions and almost 1400 importation declarations for vehicles and engines. Additionally, the department processed 49 notices of defect and recall notifications covering over 530,000 vehicles and engines. Of those, ECCC influenced two notices of defect covering over 65,000 vehicles and engines.

The regulatory administration of the transportation regulations is supported by ECCC laboratory emissions testing on vehicles, and engines and fuel quality testing in order to verify compliance with the regulations. Additionally, the department responds to inquiries from regulatees and prospective regulatees. During 2016–2017, ECCC responded to almost 1000 inquiries regarding the vehicles and engines regulations and almost 400 regarding the fuels regulations.

In 2016–2017 ECCC expanded its capacity to verify compliance with transportation sector emission regulations and to identify devices to defeat the emission regulations. The expanded program increases opportunities to identify non-compliant regulatees and take enforcement action where required. In 2016–2017, the department conducted 72 rounds of basic testing on 95 vehicles and engines.

Starting January 1, 2017, the sulphur limits under the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations were adjusted downwards according to schedule. For those companies that have elected to apply a pool average, the limit decreased from 30 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg, and for those companies that do not apply a pool average, the limit decreased from 40 mg/kg to 14 mg/kg. The sulphur compliance unit trading system also came into effect for the duration of the 2017 to 2019 compliance periods.

In June 2016, ECCC published the Renewable Fuels Regulations Report: December 15, 2010 to December 31, 2012 which summarizes the data gathered from the first compliance periods of the Regulations, from December 15, 2010 to December 31, 2012 (gasoline compliance period) and July 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012 (distillate, diesel and heating distillate oil, compliance period).

Finally in September 2016, ECCC published Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance for the 2011 to 2014 Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Fleet, a report summarizing the overall fleet average GHG emission performance of the Canadian fleets of passenger automobiles (PA) and light trucks (LT) for the 2011–2014 model years based on data submitted by companies in their end-of-model-year reports pursuant to the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Emission Regulations.

More information on ECCC’s vehicle, engine and fuel regulations and on ECCC’s fuel regulations is available online.

Clean fuel standard

On November 25, 2016, in support of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the government announced that it would develop a clean fuel standard to reduce GHG emissions throughout the fuel system. A discussion paper was published on February 24, 2017 to support consultations to help inform the development of the clean fuel standard.

The clean fuel standard will focus on liquid, gaseous and solid fuels used in transportation, industry, homes and buildings. It will set requirements to reduce the carbon intensities of fuels and will incentivize the use of lower carbon fuels, and alternative energy sources and technologies. The overall objective is to achieve 30 megatonnes of annual reductions in GHG emissions by 2030. In 2016–2017, ECCC held numerous consultations including general and technical webinars, two face-to-face workshops and many bilateral meetings.

Consumer and commercial products

ECCC has been targeting the reduction of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from consumer and commercial products. VOCs are a contributing factor in the creation of air pollution. Control measures have been developed that set VOC content limits in some products, which in turn reduce their emissions.

In 2016–2017, amendments to the definition of VOCs on Schedule 1 of CEPA were finalized. This amendment aligns the CEPA and the USEPA definitions.

Indoor air quality

In addition to the penetration indoors of outdoor pollutants, indoor air can be contaminated by emissions from building materials, products, and activities inside the home, and by the infiltration of naturally occurring radon from the soil under the building.

The residential indoor air quality guidelines summarize the health risks posed by specific indoor pollutants, based on a review of the best scientific information available at the time of the assessment. They summarize the known health effects, detail the indoor sources and provide a recommended exposure level, below which health effects are unlikely to occur. When it is not feasible to establish a numeric guideline, guidance documents are developed. Both guideline and guidance documents provide recommendations on strategies to reduce exposure to pollutants.

On March 18, 2017, a notice of intent was published in Canada Gazette, Part I indicating that the Department of the Environment and the Department of Health are initiating the development of proposed regulations under CEPA 1999 respecting formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products. These regulations would help reduce formaldehyde emissions in indoor air from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into Canada. Publication of the Notice of Intent marked the beginning of a 60-day public comment period, which ended on May 17, 2017.

On May 28, 2016, the Minister of Health published a proposed residential indoor air quality guideline for acetaldehyde in the Canada Gazette, Part I. HC also supported development of the formaldehyde emissions standard for composite wood products by the Canadian Standards Association, which was published in May 2016. In addition, HC provided health-based advice on the protection of vulnerable populations to the Canadian Standards Association, as input to an update of their standard on carbon monoxide alarms, published in January 2017.

2.4 Water quality

Water quality is affected in many ways, including by nature's own patterns. The water quality of rivers and lakes changes with the seasons and geographic areas, even when there is no pollution present. It is also affected by human development, including by the release of human wastes, animal wastes and chemical substances into the environment.

Water quality is a shared responsibility with provinces and territories. The federal government addresses water quality under various statutes, including the Fisheries Act. Work on water quality under CEPA includes monitoring, scientific research, and leadership on the development of guidelines for water quality.

2.4.1 Monitoring

ECCC’s Fresh Water Quality Monitoring program continues to implement a risk-based adaptive management framework in conjunction with statistical power analyses to better target monitoring activities to the risks of contaminants and human activities in Canadian watersheds. The approach has been used to optimize monitoring locations and adjust monitoring frequencies relative to the environmental risks and to report on changes in environmental condition.

In 2016–2017, ECCC scientists participated in development of management options for remediation of contaminated sediments in Great Lakes areas of concern, including Hamilton Harbour and the St. Clair River.

In addition to data collection and reporting on a wide range of environmental issues, monitoring efforts in 2016–2017 included continued upgrades to monitoring technologies and improved data reporting and database infrastructure.

More information on ECCC monitoring activities is available online.

2.4.2 Research

Both HC and ECCC continued their water quality research activities.

ECCC’s research included method development for analytes in wastewater treatment plant influent and effluent; assessing the environmental fate of azo benzidine compounds and their transformation products; investigating organophosphorus flame retardants in a variety of environmental compartments; biotoxins identification in algal blooms in the St. Lawrence River; analytical methods development for the identification of degradation products from pharmaceuticals in surface waters; multiple biological impacts of municipal effluents on wild fish in the St. Lawrence River; and assessing bioaccumulation and toxicity of dysprosium and palladium under varying water quality parameters.

In 2016–2017, HC provided Statistics Canada with Quality Assurance/Quality Control on the data on VOCs in drinking water in preparation of the release of the CHMS, Cycle 4 report. Two Access-based databases and worksheets, along with relevant training materials, were finalized to support data accessibility for compounds identified as priorities for risk assessment under the CMP.

2.4.3 Risk management activities

HC works in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop the guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality and their technical documents, based on priorities also established in consultation with the provinces and territories. Health-based guidelines are developed for drinking water contaminants that are found or expected to be found in drinking water supplies across Canada at levels that could lead to adverse health effects.

Priorities for guideline development are established every 3 to 4 years, using exposure information from federal, provincial and territorial sources and up-to-date science, as well as taking into consideration jurisdictional needs. This comprehensive process was initiated in early 2017, and its results will form the basis for a five-year workplan.

As part of the guideline development process, HC routinely monitors and reviews guidelines and standards for drinking water from other key organizations, such as the European Union the World Health Organization, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council. The science and decisions supporting these international standards and guidelines are taken into consideration, and included in each guideline technical document.

The guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality are used by all provinces and territories as a basis to establish their own regulatory requirements regarding the quality of drinking water in their jurisdictions.

Table 14 lists the guidelines that were completed or in progress in 2016–2017.

Table 14: Guidelines/guidance documents for Canadian drinking water quality from April 2016 to March 2017
Finalized Underwent public consultation In progress
  • Bromate
  • Cyanobacterial toxins
  • Manganese
  • Manganese
  • PFOA
  • PFOS
  • Lead
  • Enteric protozoa
  • Uranium
  • Enteric viruses
  • QMRA
  • Copper
  • Natural organic matter
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Strontium
  • Enterococci
  • Coliform
  • Chloramines
  • Barium
  • Boron
  • Cadmium

2.5 Waste

Waste generally refers to any material, non-hazardous or hazardous, that has no further use, and which is managed at recycling, processing or disposal sites or facilities.

In Canada, the responsibility for managing and reducing waste is shared between the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Municipal governments are responsible for collecting and managing waste from homes for recycling, composting and disposal, while provincial and territorial authorities are responsible for the approval, licensing and monitoring of waste management operations.

For its part, ECCC exercises responsibilities with respect to disposal at sea of specified materials, as well as the international and interprovincial movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

2.5.1 Monitoring

Disposal at sea site monitoring program

As required by CEPA, representative disposal at sea sites are monitored to verify that permit conditions are met, and that scientific assumptions made during the permit review and site selection process are correct and sufficient to protect the marine environment. By monitoring disposal sites, ECCC is able to verify that the permitting of disposal is sustainable and that permit holders can have continued access to suitable sites. Where monitoring indicates a problem or where the site has reached its capacity over time, management action in the form of closing, moving or altering the site use can occur.

In 2016–2017, monitoring projects were completed at 14 ocean disposal sites nationally (11% of the 125 actively used sites this fiscal year).

In the Pacific and Yukon Region, monitoring was conducted at five Disposal at Sea (DAS) sites. In October 2016, field monitoring was conducted at the Thornbrough Channel, Watts Point, Five Finger Island, Porlier Pass, and Sand Heads disposal sites. Monitoring consisted of both sediment grab sampling for physicochemical and toxicological analyses and Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI).

  • For the physicochemical analyses, sediment samples were analyzed for trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), particle size, nutrients including total organic carbon (TOC) and total organic nitrogen (TON), dioxins and furans, and acid volatile sulphides and simultaneously extracted metals (AVS/SEM).
  • For the toxicological analyses, toxicity testing included lethal and sublethal testing of species representing varying trophic levels.
  • SPI technology was used to collect high-resolution plan and profile images of the surface sediment to confirm that disposal material had not been deposited outside the site boundaries, to assess benthic habitat quality outside of the site boundary, and to investigate the presence of wood waste at the site.

In the Quebec Region, monitoring studies were conducted at a total of seven DAS sites: four sites in the Magdalen Islands and three sites in the Gaspé Peninsula.

  • Bathymetric surveys were conducted at three Magdalen Islands sites in September and October 2016: Depot E, Point Basse (PBCM-1), and L’Île-d’Entrée (IE-6). These surveys were conducted to determine if the disposal activities had been carried out in accordance with the conditions of the issued DAS permits.
  • At the IE-6 DAS site, Transport Canada wanted to ensure that the disposal mound did not pose a danger to navigation.
  • At Depot D, the fourth Magdalen Islands site studied, a macrobenthic fauna community study was conducted using an underwater video survey in September 2016.
  • In August 2016, in the Gaspé Peninsula, bathymetric studies were conducted at the l’Anse-à-Brillant (ABR-1), l’Anse-à-Beaufils (AB-5), and Port-Daniel (PD-6) sites. As with the surveys in the Magdalen Islands, these were conducted to determine if disposal activities had been carried out in accordance with the conditions of the issued DAS permits.

In the Atlantic Region, monitoring studies were conducted at two DAS sites.

  • In Nova Scotia, two studies were conducted at the Outer False Harbour DAS site in November 2016. A geophysical survey, consisting of bathymetry and backscatter data collection, was conducted which was then followed by sediment physicochemical characterization and optical imaging studies.
  • In New Brunswick, a geophysical survey was conducted at the Black Point DAS site in June 2016. The mounds from the accumulated dredged material had been determined to have exceeded a height limit for disposal mounds established in the Management Plan. The geophysical survey was also used to analyze the footprint of the disposal site to confirm that it was not expanding beyond the established disposal site boundaries.

The results of all analyses, tests, and assessments pertaining to the monitoring conducted in 2016–2017 are pending.

With respect to the 13 monitoring projects that were conducted at 11 ocean disposal sites in 2015–2016, the results of these studies have concluded that disposal activities have not resulted in marine pollution at these sites.

2.5.2 Risk management activities

In addition to the activities listed below, risk management actions described in section 2.1.5 on toxic substances also contribute to the overall improvement of waste management.

Disposal at sea

The CEPA DAS rules impose a general prohibition on the disposal of substances into waters or onto ice from activities taking place at sea. Disposal at sea activities conducted under a permit from ECCC are exempt from this prohibition and permits are only available for a short list of wastes that cannot be granted a permit unless disposal at sea is the environmentally preferable and practical option.

Implementing the CEPA DAS rules helps Canada to meet its obligations as a party to the 1972 London Convention and the more modern London Protocol. Canada reports the number of permits, quantities and types of wastes, and results of disposal site monitoring to the London Protocol Secretariat each year.

In 2016, Canada and other parties marked the 20th anniversary of the London Protocol’s entry into force by adopting a strategic plan for the London Protocol and Convention. The plan promotes ratification and improved implementation of the London Protocol to make it a truly global treaty. Canada led or participated in the development of a series of “low cost, low tech” technical guidance documents, and supported workshops and technical assistance that is offered to bring implementation within reach of more countries. In 2016, Canada was elected to Chair the London Protocol Compliance Group, which encourages and supports compliance and ratification of the treaty. Canada was also re-elected to Chair the Scientific Groups of the Protocol and Convention, which address new and emerging technical issues that arise.

Disposal at sea permits

In 2016–2017, 81 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 7.1 million tonnes of waste and other matter (Tables 15 and 16), compared to 75 permits for the disposal of 5.7 million tonnes in 2015–2016. Most of the material permitted for disposal was dredged material that was removed from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. Also permitted was excavated native till (geological matter) that is disposed of at sea in the lower mainland of British Columbia, where on-land disposal options for clean fill are extremely limited. Fish-processing waste is also permitted in remote communities where there is no access to reuse-and-recycling opportunities.

Table 15: Disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued in Canada from April 2016 to March 2017
Material Quantity permitted Permits issued
Dredged materialj 6 294 600 43
Geological matterj 741 000 5
Fish waste 48 845 32
Vessels 42 1
Organic matter n/a n/a
Total 7 084 487 81

j Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

Table 16: Disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued by region from April 2016 to March 2017
Material Atlantic: quantity permitted Atlantic: permits issued Quebec: quantity permitted Quebec: permits issued Pacific and Yukon: quantity permitted Pacific and Yukon: permits issued
Dredged materialk 1 432 600 10 438 100 13 4 423 900 20
Geological matterk n/a n/a n/a n/a 741 000 5
Fish waste 47 695 29 1 150 3 n/a n/a
Vessels 42 1 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Organic matter n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Total 1 480 337 40 439 250 16 5 164 900 25

k Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

The number of permits issued has increased slightly in 2016–2017 (Figure 9). The quantities permitted continue to fluctuate from year to year, showing increasing quantities, particularly for dredged material, this past fiscal year (Figure 10).

Figure 9: Number of disposal at sea permits issued

Figure 9: Number of disposal at sea permits issued

Long description for figure 9

Number of disposal at sea permits issued
Years Dredged material Geological matter Fish wastes Vesseks Organic matter
2006-2007 38 11 42 1 0
2007-2008 42 9 45 1 1
2008-2009 45 4 46 0 1
2009-2010 33 5 45 0 1
2010-2011 35 2 46 0 0
2011-2012 52 6 41 0 0
2012-2013 44 5 39 2 1
2013-2014 39 7 38 0 0
2014-2015 36 8 45 1 0
2015-2016 40 5 30 0 0
2016-2017 43 5 32 1 0

Figure 10: Annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes)

<p id="fig10"><strong>Figure 10: Annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes)</strong></p>
Long description for figure 10
Annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes)
Years Dredged material
Geological matter Fish wastes Vessels Organic matter
2007-2008 3 329 560 1 345 500 60 380 1 118 200
2008-2009 3 113 760 611 000 67 985 0 200
2009-2010 3 790 150 715 000 67 355 0 200
2010-2011 3 321 370 390 000 70 385 0 0
2011-2012 3 671 850 910 000 58 587 0 0
2012-2013 3 218 800 689 000 57 799 734 200
2013-2014 4 702 750 1 040 000 58 005 0 0
2014-2015 3 539 900 1 378 000 71 940 2 880 0
2015-2016 4 557 800 1 105 000 55 965 0 0
2016-2017 6 294 600 741 000 48 845 42 0

Further information on disposal at sea is available online.

Controlling the movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material

CEPA provides authority to make regulations governing the export, import and transit of waste (including both hazardous and prescribed non-hazardous waste) and hazardous recyclable materials. It also provides authority to establish criteria for refusing an export, import or transit permit, should the hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and human health.

Canada implements its international obligations as a party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Decision on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations, and the Canada–United States Agreement on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste through the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations and the PCB Waste Export Regulations, 1996.

On November 2, 2016, the Regulations Amending the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part II and came into force immediately. The Amendments expanded what is captured as "hazardous" under the Regulations. Waste and recyclable material, including those collected from households, will be considered hazardous for the purposes of export if they are defined as, or considered to be, "hazardous" under the legislation of the importing country or a transit country; their importation is prohibited under the legislation of the importing country; or they are one of the "hazardous wastes" or "other wastes" in the Basel Convention and the importing country is a party to the Basel Convention. The Amendments also added new provisions to address shipments of waste or recyclable material for which consent was provided by the importing and transit countries and a permit issued, but that could not be completed as planned.

In 2016,Footnote 12 ECCC processed 1686 notices for proposed imports, exports and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials under the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. The notices received covered 13,240 waste streams, which exhibited a range of hazardous properties such as being flammable, acutely toxic, oxidizing, corrosive, dangerously reactive and environmentally hazardous. In addition, 35,372 individual transboundary shipments of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material were reported in movement documents received by ECCC.

Almost all imports (99.9%) and exports (97.9%) of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials occurred between Canada and the United States. The remaining import exchanges occurred with Jamaica, Nigeria, Norway, Brazil, Australia and Indonesia; while the remaining exports occurred with Mexico, Belgium, Germany and Republic of Korea.

The quantity of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material imported into Canada was 383,741 tonnes (t) in 2016. This represents an increase of 16,015 tonnes or 4.4 % relative to 2015. Shipments imported destined for recycling totaled 263,931 tonnes and represented about 69 % of all imports in 2016. Imports of all hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials in 2016 were shipped to five provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta.

Hazardous recyclable material imported into Canada in the greatest quantities were:

  • spent lead-acid batteries
  • hydraulic fluids (used oil)
  • spent sulfuric acid, corrosive liquids, waste liquors from pickling of metals
  • metal bearing waste
  • flammable liquids

The remaining 119,811 tonnes imported were hazardous wastes (31%) and quantities included:

  • metal-bearing waste
  • organic solvents/flammable liquids
  • treated wood
  • wastes from the production, formulation and use of biocides and phytopharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides
  • waste tarry residues (excluding asphalt cements) arising from the refining, distillation and any pyrolytic treatment of organic materials

The quantity of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials exported was 410 194 t in 2016. This represents a decrease of 105,820 tonnes or 20.5% from 2015. Shipments exported for recycling totaled 346,873 tonnes and represented about 85 % of all exports in 2016. Exports of hazardous recyclable materials in 2016 originated from eight provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

The majority of hazardous recyclable material exported abroad for recycling includes:

  • spent sulfuric acid, corrosive liquids, waste liquors from pickling of metals
  • aluminum remelting by-products
  • treated wood
  • spent lead-acid batteries
  • hydraulic fluids (used oil)

The remaining 63,321 t exported were hazardous wastes (15%) and quantities included:

  • spent sulfuric acid, corrosive liquids, waste liquors from pickling of metals
  • hydraulic fluids (used oil and equipment contaminated with oil)
  • aluminum remelting by-products
  • clinical and related waste
  • waste paint and ink

Tables 17 and 18 list the quantities imported and exported from 2007 to 2016.

Table 17: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, imports, 2007–2016 (tonnes)
Type 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Waste 260 749 270 390 268 391 146 499 151 295 101 796 190 841 159 008 118 403 119 810
Recyclables 237 141 262 337 221 778 217 663 243 491 243 434 245 110 221 354 249 323 263 931
Total imports 497 890 532 727 490 169 364 162 394 786 345 230 435 951 380 362 367 726 383 741
Table 18: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, exports, 2007–2016 (tonnes)
Type 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Waste 101 601 117 212 105 234  70 740  86 500  91 847  93 786  94 601  86 623  63 321
Recyclables 358 896 365 468 315 631 357 627 374 207 413 614 422 388 436 608 429 391 346 873
Total exports 460 497 482 680 420 865 428 367 460 707 505 461 516 174 531 209 516 014 410 194

Please note that data are revised periodically as new information becomes available. Therefore, information presented here may differ from information published in other reports.

2.6 Environmental emergencies

Part 8 (Environmental matters telated to rmergencies) of CEPA addresses the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental releases into the environment of substances that pose potential or immediate harm to the environment or danger to human life or health.

Part 8 provides the authority, among other things, for making regulations, guidelines and codes of practice. Part 8 also establishes a regime that makes the person who owns or has the charge, management or control of such a substance liable for restoring the damaged environment and for the costs and expenses incurred in responding to an environmental emergency.

The Environmental Emergency Regulations (referred to as the E2 Regulations) are made under Part 8 of CEPA (Environmental Matters Related to Emergencies). The E2 Regulations require any person who owns, manages, or has the control of a regulated substance at a place in Canada, at or above the established threshold, to notify ECCC when this quantity threshold is met or when the maximum container capacity meets or exceeds this threshold. If the total quantity and container capacity thresholds are both met, there is an additional requirement to prepare and exercise an environmental emergency (E2) plan. The E2 plan ensures that any individual that owns, manages, or controls specific hazardous substances equal to or above a certain threshold has a plan for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in the event of an environmental emergency.

The environmental emergencies web section includes implementation guidelines for E2 plans, a common issues section and online notice filing. The website also provides public access to a database containing basic information about persons or places (e.g., company names and addresses) that are subject to the Regulations.

As of March 31, 2017, there were approximately 4600 regulatees from various sectors under the E2 Regulations. Of these regulatees, approximately 2900 were required to prepare E2 plans. The seven most commonly identified substances requiring E2 plans are propane, anhydrous ammonia, butane, pentane, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, and chlorine.

On October 8, 2016, the government published the proposed Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2016 in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 60-day public comment period. The objective of the proposed Regulations is to strengthen environmental emergency management in Canada. Among other proposed changes, the proposed Regulations would add 49 further hazardous substances to Schedule 1 of the Regulations. This addition would require reporting on these substances, environmental emergency planning for higher-risk facilities and reporting of spills or releases of these substances that are environmental emergencies.

In 2016–2017, ECCC’s regional activities associated with the implementation of the E2 Regulations included conducting site visits, delivering presentations to the regulated community, and promoting and enforcing compliance with regulated persons. As a result of targeted efforts to increase the implementation of E2 plans by regulated parties, approximately 97% of those regulated parties which require E2 plans have fully implemented and tested their plans.

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