National Pollutant Release Inventory: regional synopsis for the Atlantic provinces, chapter 3

How to Obtain NPRI Information

There are many ways to obtain additional information on releases and transfers of NPRI pollutants nationally, provincially and at the local community levels. They include the following:


This website includes background information on the NPRI, provides news on upcoming events, highlights stakeholder consultations activities and provides links to relevant websites in North America and around the world. It provides access to current and previous NPRI reporting requirements, guidance documents and downloadable data products.

In addition, the NPRI website allows the user to query the NPRI database on specific facilities for 2000 and previous years. This interactive querying feature allows the user to find detailed information on a facility or informative summaries based upon substance, location or industrial sector. Data and trend analysis over several years is provided in chart form. To access this feature, click on the 'On-line Data Search' option.

Information on provincial environmental programs in Atlantic Canada can be obtained at the following:

New Brunswick:

Newfoundland and Labrador:

Nova Scotia:

Prince Edward Island:

Annual Reports

Since 1993, Environment Canada has published an annual report of the NPRI data submitted by facilities across Canada. The reports include information on the NPRI-listed substances and their releases on-site to the environment and off-site transfers for disposal or recycling. Information is presented on a national basis, summarizing releases by environmental medium, by pollutant and by industrial sector, with comparisons to the previous year's data.

In the spring 2002, Environment Canada will be releasing the report entitled NPRI National Overview 2000. This document contains additional context and data analyses not found in this synopsis, including:

  • year-to-year data comparisons;
  • national data summaries;
  • significant sources of all NPRI pollutants across Canada;
  • profiles of possible health and environmental impacts of certain NPRI pollutants;
  • summaries of quantitative pollution prevention information reported by facilities; and
  • summary data from other pollutant sources and non-NPRI inventories.

Electronic versions of previously published reports and databases are also available by download from the NPRI website or on CD.

Factors to Consider When Using the NPRI Data

NPRI data provide publicly-available annual records of on-site releases and off-site transfers of listed pollutants from facilities operating in Canada. While over 140 facilities from a broad range of industrial sectors in the Atlantic Provinces report to the NPRI, not all sources of NPRI pollutants are captured by the inventory. For example, the NPRI does not include releases from mobile sources (vehicles and vessels) which are known to be major contributors of hazardous air pollutants on the NPRI list such as benzene.

Facilities that do not meet the reporting requirements because of their size are not required to report to the NPRI. Collectively however, releases from these sources may account for the majority of releases of some NPRI pollutants. Other significant pollutants such as greenhouse gases, common air contaminants and many pesticides are not on the current NPRI list. However, common air contaminants will be added to the NPRI for the 2002 reporting year.

Facilities are required to file reports based on information to which they may be reasonably expected to have access. In some cases, facilities monitor releases of certain NPRI pollutants according to requirements of their provincial or operating permits. However, in other cases, they must rely on other methods of estimating releases. In 2000, facilities in the Atlantic Provinces relied on monitoring or direct measurement for approximately 22% of reported values, while estimates were used for the other 78% of reports. Estimates may be based on standard emission factors, mass balance calculations, or other estimation methods.

Other factors must be considered before drawing conclusions on the environmental performance of specific industrial sectors. It is also important to consider the relative size of the facility, the complexity of the process and the best available emission control technologies. Most reported on-site releases have been processed by engineered treatment or control systems prior to their discharge into the environment.

Industrial facilities that report to the NPRI operate under stipulations of provincial operating permits and many are subject to provincial or federal regulations or codes of practice. These permits, regulations, and codes may or may not apply to emissions or discharges of all NPRI pollutants.

Risk of NPRI Pollutants

Ranking the release and transfer of NPRI pollutants by volume, provides a simple method of comparing the amounts of different substances entering the environment or being transferred for treatment or disposal. However, risk to human health and the environment from on-site releases of pollutants cannot be determined from NPRI data alone. Although the data are useful as a starting point in identifying potential risks, other information is required to determine the potential negative impacts on health and the environment. Risk depends on many factors, such as toxicity of the pollutants, the extent of the exposure, the type of release or transfer and the environmental medium to which the pollutant was released. For example, while an 800- tonne release of methanol to air is a significant amount of pollution, it may not have the same impact as an 8-tonne release of arsenic to surface water. Both are substances of concern and their releases should be treated accordingly, however a higher priority would be placed on the arsenic release due to its greater risk to the environment.

Environment Canada Atlantic Region has used a version of the Chemical Hazard Evaluation for Management Strategies (CHEMS) ranking model to evaluate the risk to human health and the environment of NPRI pollutants released and transferred for disposal in the Atlantic Provinces. The CHEMS model has been used for similar purposes to rank pollutant data in the Toxic Release Inventory, the United States' equivalent to the NPRI. Using this type of a ranking model is considered to be the first step in prioritizing substances for further evaluation. A higher level of quantitative analysis and expert investigation is required before final conclusions can be reached about the relative toxicity, risk and impact of NPRI pollutants.

CHEMS considers the following factors in developing a risk score for each pollutant:

  • lethal effects from oral ingestion and inhalation;
  • carcinogenicity;
  • neurological, developmental and reproductive effects;
  • environmental effects on aquatic organisms; and,
  • persistence and bioaccumulation.

A formula is used to combine these factors with specific NPRI release and disposal data to give each substance a relative score, and the resulting scores are then ranked.

An analysis of the core NPRI substances in 1999 indicated that the ten pollutants in Atlantic Canada with the highest ranking in descending order of risk were: arsenic, nickel, chromium, lead and their compounds; ammonia; sulphuric acid; and copper, manganese, cadmium, and zinc and their compounds. Environment Canada will be publishing a risk ranking of the 2000 NPRI data in the spring of 2002.

Further information on this analysis is contained in a report entitled, A Risk Screening of National Pollutant Release Inventory Substances in the Atlantic Provinces, available on the Atlantic Region Air and Toxics website at:

Distribution of Releases and Disposal Transfers in the Atlantic Provinces

On-Site Releases

Off-site Transfers for Disposal


Per capita comparisons - All Pollutants (Tonnes per 1000 persons)

Type of Release National Atlantic Provinces
Total Releases 11.9 5.8
Air Releases 4.2 4.3
Water Releases 1.3 0.8
Land Releases 1.1 0.6
Transfers Off-site for Disposal 2.6 0.8
Transfers Off-site for Recycling / Recovery 36.8 11.1
CEPA-toxic or Carcinogenic Pollutants
Total Releases 1.0 0.2


Canada 2000 Atlantic Provinces
2,402 Facilities 142 Facilities
(6% of national total)
All pollutants
Total releases:
367,293 tonnes
Total releases:
13,645 tonnes
(4 %)
Air releases:
128,658 tonnes
Air releases:
10,287 tonnes
(8 %)
Water releases:
40,029 tonnes
Water releases:
1,913 tonnes
(5 %)
Land releases:
34,103 tonnes
Land releases:
1,444 tonnes
(4 %)
Underground injection:
163,764 tonnes
Underground injection:
0 tonnes
Transfers off-site for disposal:
81,267 tonnes
Transfers off-site for disposal:
1,792 tonnes
(2 %)
Transfers off-site for recycling:
1,131,376 tonnes
Transfers off-site for recycling:
26,343 tonnes
(2 %)
Transfers for disposal to/from the rest of Canada (All pollutants)
Transfers off-site
other provinces
0.4 tonnes
Transfers off-site
other provinces
545 tonnes
Toxic and carcinogenic pollutants
Total releases:
32,063 tonnes
Total releases:
470 tonnes
(1 %)
Transfers off-site for disposal:
12,859 tonnes
Transfers off-site for disposal:
598 tonnes
(5 %)
Transfers off-site for recycling:
27,447 tonnes
Transfers off-site for recycling:
1,026 tonnes
(4 %)


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