Toxic substances: definition
"A substance is toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:
- have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
- constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
- constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health." (Section 64).
In determining whether a substance should be declared "toxic" under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), the likelihood and magnitude of releases into the environment and the harm it may cause to human health or ecosystems at levels occurring in the Canadian environment are taken into account. If a substance is found to be "toxic," the Ministers recommend that the substance be added to the List of Toxic Substances (CEPA, Schedule 1). The federal government then works with the provinces, territories, industry, non-government organizations and other interested parties to develop a management plan to reduce or eliminate the harmful effects the substance has on the environment and the health of Canadians.
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