Air pollutant emissions

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Air pollution problems, such as smog and acid rain, result from the release of pollutants into the atmosphere. The majority of these pollutants are released through human activities, such as transportation, the burning of fuels for electricity and heating, and a variety of industrial activities. The indicators on sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), ammonia (NH3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon, a component of PM2.5, report emissions released through human activities.

Summary

Summary

Key results

  • In 2019, emissions of 5 key air pollutants sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ranged from 77% to 8% lower than in 1990
  • Emissions of ammonia (NH3) were 20% higher than in 1990

Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Sulphur oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Ammonia
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage change from 1990 level)
1990 0 0 0 0 0 0
1991 -7 -4 -2 -1 -2 -3
1992 -11 -2 -1 2 -2 -5
1993 -14 0 2 3 0 -6
1994 -21 5 3 7 0 -4
1995 -17 8 2 13 -1 -8
1996 -17 11 2 18 -4 -7
1997 -18 17 0 19 -7 -5
1998 -20 19 -2 19 -9 -16
1999 -23 21 -4 18 -11 -15
2000 -23 20 -7 21 -13 -18
2001 -24 14 -14 21 -20 -19
2002 -25 12 -15 23 -23 -24
2003 -27 10 -17 22 -24 -23
2004 -27 4 -18 26 -29 -26
2005 -31 0 -20 24 -36 -26
2006 -37 -7 -24 22 -40 -26
2007 -39 -7 -24 23 -41 -21
2008 -45 -10 -26 20 -43 -17
2009 -54 -15 -31 16 -46 -24
2010 -57 -15 -33 15 -48 -20
2011 -60 -17 -37 14 -51 -18
2012 -60 -22 -37 18 -53 -12
2013 -61 -24 -36 21 -54 -11
2014 -62 -26 -35 19 -54 -11
2015 -65 -29 -39 20 -55 -10
2016 -65 -32 -43 20 -56 -11
2017 -68 -29 -42 17 -56 -10
2018 -73 -29 -41 21 -55 -8
2019 -77 -29 -42 20 -55 -8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: This indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

More information

Between 1990 and 2019, the largest emission reductions were observed for SOX, which decreased by 77%. It was followed by CO emissions (55% reduction), VOCs (42%), NOX (29%) and PM2.5 (8%). These reductions since 1990 are due in part to government actions and voluntary initiatives from key industrial emitters that were put in place to restrict or eliminate the release of air pollutants in Canada. For PM2.5, since 2009, emissions have been steadily increasing outweighing the reductions observed over the period. Compared to 2018, in 2019 there has been a slight downward trend in all the pollutants with the exception of PM2.5.

In 2019, the majority of emissions of the 6 key air pollutants in Canada came from the oil and gas industry,transportation, agriculture, and dust and fires (for example, road dust, dust from construction operations and prescribed burning).

Distribution of air pollutant emissions by source, Canada, 2019

Distribution of air pollutant emissions by source, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Distribution of air pollutant emissions by source, Canada, 2019
Source Sulphur oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage of national emissions
)
Ammonia
(percentage of national emissions)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage of national emissions)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage of national emissions)
Oil and gas industry 37.1 29.7 39.4 0.6 10.5 0.8
Manufacturing 5.9 4.1 6.1 2.3 3.0 1.0
Ore and mineral industries 24.8 5.0 0.7 0.3 9.7 2.2
Transportation(road, rail, air and marine) 0.8 36.7 9.3 1.6 36.5 1.2
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment <0.1 11.4 8.0 <0.1 25.0 1.0
Building heating and energy generation 0.5 4.0 0.2 0.1 0.7 0.3
Electric utilities 29.4 7.7 <0.1 <0.1 0.6 0.2
Home firewood burning 0.3 0.8 6.8 0.2 12.9 5.1
Incineration and waste 0.4 0.3 1.1 1.3 0.3 0.2
Paints and solvents <0.1 <0.1 18.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Agriculture(livestock, crop production and fertilizer) 0.8 0.2 6.9 93.3 <0.1 24.8
Dust and fires <0.1 <0.1 0.2 <0.1 0.7 62.0
Miscellaneous <0.1 <0.1 3.2 <0.1 <0.1 1.0

Note: The percentages have been rounded off and their sum may not add up to 100.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.02 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "dust and fires" includes emissions from human activities such as prescribed burning and dust from roads. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

The human made sources most contributing to Canada's air pollutant emissions in 2019 were the following:

  • the oil and gas industry, electric utilities and ore and mineral industries together represented the majority of SOX emissions
  • transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was a key source of NOX and CO emissions
  • off-road vehicles and mobile equipment and home firewood burning were also important sources of CO emissions and the oil and gas industry was an important source of NOX emissions
  • most of the VOC emissions came from the oil and gas industry and from the use of paints and solvents
  • agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) accounted for the majority of NH3 emissions
  • dust and fires were the most important sources of PM2.5 emissions

At the provincial level, emissions of the 6 key air pollutants in 2019 were:

  • the highest in Alberta for SOX, (32% of national emissions), NOX (39%), VOCs (34%), NH3 (27%) and PM2.5 (34%)
  • the highest in Ontario for CO (26%)
  • the second highest in Ontario for NOX (17% of national emissions) and VOCs (20%)
  • also important in Saskatchewan for SOX, NH3 and PM2.5, and Quebec for CO, accounting for 17%, 21%, 31% and 25% of the national emissions of these pollutants

Distribution of air pollutant emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2019

Distribution of air pollutant emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Distribution of air pollutant emissions by province and territory. Canada. 2019
Province or territory Sulphur oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage of national emissions)
Ammonia
(percentage of national emissions)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage of national emissions)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage of national emissions)
Newfoundland and Labrador 3.0 2.5 1.2 0.2 1.6 0.9
Prince Edward Island <0.1 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.4 0.2
Nova Scotia 7.6 2.5 1.8 0.7 2.5 1.0
New Brunswick 1.6 1.7 1.6 0.8 2.5 0.8
Quebec 13.1 11.1 13.7 14.0 24.9 7.9
Ontario 16.1 16.6 20.4 18.2 25.6 11.8
Manitoba 0.3 2.8 3.9 12.6 3.3 7.1
Saskatchewan 16.7 9.2 15.0 21.1 5.8 31.3
Alberta 31.6 39.5 33.5 27.4 19.7 34.4
British Columbia 9.8 12.7 8.3 4.4 13.2 4.1
Yukon <0.1 0.1 <0.1 <0.1 0.1 0.2
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 0.2 1.1 0.2 <0.1 0.2 0.3

Note: The percentages have been rounded off and their sum may not add up to 100.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.46 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note:  The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

By pollutant
Sulphur oxides

Sulphur oxide emissions by source

Emissions of sulphur oxides (SOX)  in the atmosphere can have adverse effects on human health and the environment. The SOX emissions released by human activities consist mostly of sulphur dioxides (SO2). Sulphur dioxide can affect respiratory systems of humans and animals and cause damage to vegetation, buildings and materials. It is also a precursor to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and acid rain.

Key results

  • Between 1990 and 2019, SOX emissions decreased by 77% to 699 kilotonnes (kt) in 2019
  • In 2019, three sources accounted for 91% (638 kt) of the total SOX emissions: the oil and gas industry, electric utilities and ore and mineral industries

Total sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Total sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Oil and gas industry
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Electric utilities
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Ore and mineral industries
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 531.0 618.4 1 481.2 373.8 3 004.3
1991 535.2 592.1 1 334.3 324.1 2 785.6
1992 575.6 610.7 1 169.3 307.9 2 663.4
1993 602.4 547.2 1 112.6 312.4 2 574.6
1994 595.5 559.8 891.9 312.5 2 359.7
1995 589.6 532.6 1 105.6 265.3 2 493.1
1996 587.2 542.2 1 089.0 282.0 2 500.4
1997 542.1 591.3 1 032.1 283.3 2 448.9
1998 511.0 603.6 1 019.4 278.7 2 412.7
1999 507.1 601.1 925.3 281.9 2 315.5
2000 504.7 619.2 914.4 281.0 2 319.3
2001 486.8 623.9 911.6 274.3 2 296.7
2002 459.2 624.3 903.8 268.0 2 255.3
2003 467.5 630.4 812.2 276.5 2 186.6
2004 459.9 581.5 874.4 280.5 2 196.4
2005 452.6 521.9 857.2 249.0 2 080.8
2006 416.2 458.9 828.1 178.8 1 882.0
2007 391.2 491.9 778.9 170.7 1 832.7
2008 369.8 427.5 715.1 138.9 1 651.3
2009 367.0 384.0 523.0 117.9 1 391.8
2010 334.0 334.0 501.9 112.8 1 282.6
2011 315.7 293.2 467.2 113.6 1 189.7
2012 323.2 284.2 477.2 103.7 1 188.4
2013 311.3 278.2 492.1 98.9 1 180.5
2014 280.4 269.2 487.2 102.8 1 139.6
2015 256.1 251.5 482.8 74.0 1 064.4
2016 247.3 253.1 481.2 66.7 1 048.3
2017 256.0 245.5 388.9 64.6 955.1
2018 264.4 220.3 258.7 66.2 809.6
2019 259.0 205.5 173.3 61.2 698.9

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.82 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from transportation (road, rail, air and marine), off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, home firewood burning, incineration and waste, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer), dust and fires, paints and solvents, building heating and energy generation, manufacturing, and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, the oil and gas industry accounted for approximately 37% of total national SOX emissions (259 kt). Electric utilities and ore and mineral industries followed with 29% (205 kt) and 25% (173kt) of national emissions. For the ore and mineral industries, 35% (61 kt) of its SOX emissions came from the non-ferrous refining and smelting industry.

The largest reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2019 was from ore and mineral industries with a reduction in emissions of 1 308 kt. The largest driver of the reduction from the source was from the non-ferrous refining and smelting industry with a reduction of 1 211 kt over the period.

This significant decrease in SOX emissions from 1990 to 2019 is due in large part to government actions to fight acid rain and related federal-provincial and United States agreementsFootnote 1 Footnote 2 on capping SOX emissions by 1994. Further reductions were also realized through:

  • technological upgrades, new air pollution controls for non-ferrous metal smelters and the closure of 4 major smelters in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick
  • lower emissions from fossil-fuel-fired (for example, coal-fired) power-generating utilities as a result of better technologies and plant closures (for example, the phase-out of coal electricity generation in Ontario)
  • better emission control technologies within the oil and gas sector
  • implementation of regulations on low-sulphur fuelsFootnote 3 Footnote 4

 

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory

Key results

  •  In 2019, Saskatchewan and Alberta accounted for 48% (338 kt) of national SOX emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019,
    • the largest reduction were observed in Ontario and Manitoba. Emissions in these provinces decreased by 1 011 kt (90%) and 507 kt (99%)
    • Saskatchewan was the only province that experienced an increase in SOX (21%, or 20 kt)

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 68.8 20.7
Prince Edward Island 3.4 0.3
Nova Scotia 203.2 53.1
New Brunswick 109.3 11.1
Quebec 247.8 91.9
Ontario 1 123.2 112.6
Manitoba 509.1 2.0
Saskatchewan 96.9 117.1
Alberta 513.4 220.7
British Columbia 110.4 68.4
Yukon 0.6 <0.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 18.0 1.1

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 954 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Alberta had the highest SOX emissions level in 2019, accounting for 32% (221 kt) of total national emissions. Emissions in the province mainly came from the oil and gas industry and electric utilities, combined accounting for 95% (209 kt) of the emissions.

Saskatchewan was the second-highest emitter of SOX in 2019, accounting for 17% (117 kt) of total national emissions. Emissions from electric utilities and the oil and gas industry were the largest contributors to SOX emissions in the province in 2019.

Ontario ranked third, with 16% (113 kt) of total national emissions; ore and mineral industries was the most important source of emissions in the province. The sharp reduction in SOX emissions in Ontario between 1990 and 2019 was mainly due to emission reductions from ore and mineral industries (notably the non-ferrous refining and smelting industry) and electric utilities.

Sulphur oxide emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore SOX emissions from individual facilities.

Sulphur oxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Sulphur oxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of sulphur oxide emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 25 tonnes, 25 to 100 tonnes, 100 to 500 tonnes, 500 to 2 000 tonnes, 2 000 to 6 000 tonnes and 6 000 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported sulphur oxide emissions represent 87% of total national sulphur oxide emissions.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Nitrogen oxides

Nitrogen oxide emissions by source

Nitrogen oxides (NOX) include emissions of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Nitrogen dioxide can have adverse effects on human health and the environment. Nitrogen oxides contribute to acid rain, which can lead to the acidification of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. It also contributes to the eutrophication of lakes and to the formation of ground-level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Key results

  • In 2019, NOX emissions were 1 617 kilotonnes (kt). This is 29% lower than in 1990
  • Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was a major source of NOX representing 37% (593 kt) of total emissions in 2019

Total nitrogen oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Total nitrogen oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total nitrogen oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Transportation
(road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Oil and gas industry
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Off-road vehicles and
mobile equipment
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Electric utilities
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 901.4 345.8 382.8 387.0 257.0 2 274.0
1991 852.5 339.4 369.0 377.4 250.9 2 189.2
1992 860.0 356.0 363.1 386.7 262.9 2 228.8
1993 873.3 381.2 370.6 412.6 243.0 2 280.7
1994 919.0 413.1 376.6 446.4 240.0 2 395.1
1995 918.8 429.5 376.0 481.1 248.1 2 453.5
1996 962.8 441.6 373.5 472.6 269.0 2 519.5
1997 1 042.4 485.2 372.8 469.8 287.7 2 658.0
1998 1 112.4 496.3 355.3 422.9 310.1 2 697.0
1999 1 179.8 513.5 358.9 400.4 306.4 2 758.8
2000 1 188.2 459.1 362.2 393.3 326.8 2 729.6
2001 1 151.3 453.3 341.1 337.9 313.0 2 596.6
2002 1 078.5 453.3 369.6 324.8 314.9 2 541.1
2003 1 005.9 496.0 366.6 340.5 293.0 2 502.0
2004 961.2 430.5 362.5 341.5 267.5 2 363.2
2005 938.7 430.7 333.2 309.9 253.7 2 266.2
2006 889.8 430.3 285.6 286.1 224.3 2 116.1
2007 867.7 453.6 273.7 288.5 238.8 2 122.4
2008 828.4 464.0 253.8 279.7 225.1 2 051.0
2009 755.5 460.1 227.8 264.8 218.0 1 926.1
2010 736.9 451.9 234.3 283.5 233.7 1 940.4
2011 726.0 457.6 241.2 254.2 198.9 1 878.0
2012 687.0 460.3 237.2 223.0 166.3 1 773.7
2013 652.3 464.6 235.0 214.5 162.0 1 728.4
2014 601.5 476.7 236.8 200.9 167.2 1 683.2
2015 555.9 478.1 233.1 196.6 152.4 1 616.0
2016 546.2 470.6 226.3 161.7 152.5 1 557.4
2017 566.8 480.9 239.5 174.2 145.1 1 606.4
2018 587.3 486.2 237.2 185.8 129.2 1 625.6
2019 593.3 481.0 233.7 184.2 124.8 1 617.0

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from ore and mineral industries, manufacturing, building heating and energy generation, home firewood burning, incineration and waste, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer), dust and fires, paints and solvents, and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

While transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was the main contributor of NOX, it was also the sector that experienced the largest reduction between 1990 and 2019. Emissions of NOX from this sector decreased by 308 kt (34%) during that period. 

The oil and gas industry emitted the next largest proportions of NOX emissions in 2019, representing 30% (481 kt) of total national emissions. This sector also experienced the largest increase 39% (135 kt) in emissions between 1990 and 2019, partly offsetting reductions from other sectors.

The decline in NOX emissions between 1990 and 2019 is mostly attributable to 2 factors:

  • the reduction in emissions from transportation after 2000, given the progressive introduction of cleaner technology and fuels for vehicles
  • lower emissions from fossil-fuel-fired (for example, coal-fired) power-generating utilities as a result of better emission control technologies and certain plant closures (for example, the closure of coal power plants in Ontario)

More recently, since 2016, NOX emissions have started to trend up mainly due to increases in emissions from  transportation and the oil and gas industry.

Nitrogen oxide emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • Among provinces and territories, Alberta emitted the most NOX in 2019. The province accounted for 39% (638 kt) of national emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019,
    • the largest reduction was observed in Ontario. Emissions decreased by 324 kt (55%) in the province
    • NOX emissions slightly increased in Saskatchewan and increased by 24%, (3 kt) in Nunavut and Northwest Territories combined

Nitrogen oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Nitrogen oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Nitrogen oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 50.7 41.2
Prince Edward Island 6.7 4.1
Nova Scotia 82.9 40.8
New Brunswick 78.3 27.0
Quebec 309.6 178.8
Ontario 592.7 268.6
Manitoba 72.7 45.1
Saskatchewan 144.5 149.4
Alberta 642.6 638.1
British Columbia 275.7 204.7
Yukon 3.7 2.0
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 13.9 17.2

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 954 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

The oil and gas industry is an important source of NOX emissions in Alberta, accounting for 60% (384 kt) of the province's NOX emissions in 2019. The increasing contribution of this sector to the province's emissions between 1990 and 2019 was offset by emission reductions from the transport and electric utilities sectors.

Ontario and British Columbia both contributed the second and third largest proportion of NOX emissions in 2019, accounting for 17% (269 kt) and 13% (205 kt) of total national emissions, with transportation (road, rail, air and marine) being the most important source in both provinces followed by off-road vehicles and mobile equipment in Ontario and the oil and gas industry in British Columbia. However, Ontario experienced the largest decrease in emissions levels (324 kt) between 1990 and 2019 in large part due to emission reductions from transportation, electric utilities and off-road vehicles and mobile equipment.

Quebec ranked fourth, with 11% (179 kt) of total national emissions. Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was the most important source of NOX in this province.

Nitrogen oxide emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore NOX emissions from individual facilities.

Nitrogen oxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Nitrogen oxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of nitrogen oxide emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 50 tonnes, 50 to 100 tonnes, 100 to 200 tonnes, 200 to 400 tonnes, 400 to 800 tonnes and 800 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported nitrogen oxide emissions represent 35% of total national nitrogen oxide emissions.
Source:  Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compound emissions by source

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-containing gases and vapours released into the atmosphere by natural sources and human activities.Footnote 5 There are hundreds of VOCs that are emitted and that affect the health of Canadians and the environment. VOCs are primary precursors to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter which are the main pollutants contributing to the formation of smog.

Key results

  • In 2019, VOC emissions in Canada were 1 675 kilotonnes (kt). This is a 1 195 kt (42%) decrease from 1990 levels
  • Since 2000, the oil and gas industry has been the highest contributor to VOC emissions. In 2019, the sector accounted for 39% (659 kt) of total emissions

Total volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Total volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total volatile organic compound emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Oil and gas industry
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Paints and solvents
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Home firewood burning
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Transportation
(road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Manufacturing
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 598.8 357.5 261.5 388.5 816.8 188.3 258.8 2 870.2
1991 593.7 350.0 263.1 371.9 789.1 189.5 255.4 2 812.7
1992 608.2 352.2 249.0 371.0 797.7 199.2 256.5 2 833.8
1993 634.8 351.4 271.7 369.5 817.6 200.0 273.3 2 918.4
1994 648.4 362.1 270.3 370.6 821.9 194.3 275.5 2 943.1
1995 660.2 375.2 268.7 358.4 822.3 189.6 265.3 2 939.8
1996 688.1 373.0 261.0 351.7 800.8 193.7 264.3 2 932.6
1997 678.0 374.9 249.7 352.1 761.5 191.1 259.1 2 866.5
1998 690.7 377.5 251.6 352.5 721.6 153.1 263.2 2 810.2
1999 650.3 389.5 246.9 347.8 703.8 148.1 261.0 2 747.3
2000 667.3 395.9 244.6 338.9 629.4 149.7 256.1 2 681.9
2001 675.6 375.7 242.2 328.1 473.6 128.8 230.9 2 454.9
2002 692.3 368.4 238.4 308.6 465.2 124.1 233.5 2 430.5
2003 690.7 370.0 249.9 288.9 444.1 116.5 217.0 2 377.2
2004 677.1 366.4 242.4 274.3 459.1 123.4 202.4 2 345.1
2005 678.9 438.9 239.4 244.9 383.4 126.8 188.5 2 300.7
2006 666.4 417.1 224.6 227.3 366.1 124.0 165.3 2 190.9
2007 662.8 409.4 219.4 224.4 359.0 142.9 149.4 2 167.5
2008 675.0 392.3 214.6 233.1 335.1 140.3 134.6 2 124.9
2009 632.9 353.3 213.3 197.7 320.4 139.0 114.1 1 970.7
2010 616.3 361.5 211.0 191.9 310.5 120.8 119.7 1 931.6
2011 605.8 349.7 212.3 177.8 207.9 125.7 116.9 1 796.2
2012 656.2 354.6 208.6 169.1 181.1 116.5 118.5 1 804.6
2013 710.8 357.0 204.0 162.0 167.4 126.2 116.9 1 844.4
2014 737.2 363.6 209.2 148.9 161.5 125.8 110.3 1 856.5
2015 697.7 326.5 205.3 144.8 154.0 120.3 106.0 1 754.5
2016 636.9 310.2 204.8 148.8 128.7 111.9 104.7 1 646.0
2017 647.0 305.8 203.6 150.6 134.5 110.7 100.5 1 652.6
2018 660.4 312.0 204.8 153.3 138.4 114.8 104.4 1 688.2
2019 659.1 303.4 206.8 155.2 133.9 114.3 102.3 1 674.9

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from incineration and waste, ore and mineral industries, dust and fires, building heating and energy generation, electric utilities, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Paints and solvents and transportation (road, rail, air and marine) were also important sources of VOC emissions in 2019 contributing 18% (303 kt) and 9% (155 kt) of total emissions.

The source with the largest emissions reduction between 1990 and 2019 was off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, with emissions reductions of 683 kt (84%).

The long-term decrease in VOC emissions is mainly attributable to 3 factors:

  • the progressive introduction of cleaner technologies and fuels resulting in emission reductions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
  • emission reductions from most industrial and non-industrial sources from improved emission controls
  • lower levels of VOCs in products such as paints, solvents and cleaners

The source with the most significant emissions growth over the 1990 to 2019 period was the oil and gas industry with an increase of 60 kt (10%).

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • Alberta emitted the highest proportion of VOCs in 2019. The province represented 34% (561 kt) of national emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019,
    • Ontario experienced the largest reduction in VOC emissions. Emissions in the province decreased by 60% (511 kt)
    • Saskatchewan was the only province that experienced an increase in VOC emissions of 49% (83 kt)

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Volatile organic compound emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 45.7 19.4
Prince Edward Island 10.6 6.2
Nova Scotia 70.7 30.4
New Brunswick 82.1 27.5
Quebec 495.8 228.9
Ontario 852.2 341.7
Manitoba 96.1 64.6
Saskatchewan 168.2 250.8
Alberta 659.5 561.3
British Columbia 376.3 139.4
Yukon 2.4 1.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 10.6 3.5

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 969 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Alberta was the highest emitting province of VOCs in 2019 (561 kt), with the oil and gas industry as the main source, contributing 74% (415 kt) of the province's emissions.

Ontario was the second-highest emitter of VOCs, accounting for 20% (342 kt) of total national emissions in 2019. The main emission sources are paints and solvents, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, and transportation (road, rail, air and marine). Ontario also experienced the largest reduction in emissions, with 511 kt (60%) between 1990 and 2019, mainly as a result of emission reductions from off-road vehicles and mobile equipment and transportation (road, rail, air and marine).

Saskatchewan was the third largest emitter, with 15% (251 kt) of total national emissions, where the oil and gas industry accounted for 77% of the emissions in that province.

Most provinces and territories experienced significant reductions in emissions between 1990 and 2019 with the exception of Saskatchewan, where emissions increased 49% over the period. The oil and gas industry is responsible for the increase in emissions in Saskatchewan.

Volatile organic compound emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore VOC emissions from individual facilities.

Volatile organic compound emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Volatile organic compound emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of volatile organic compound emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 15 tonnes, 15 to 30 tonnes, 30 to 100 tonnes, 100 to 200 tonnes, 200 to 400 tonnes and 400 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported volatile organic compound emissions represent 15% of total national volatile organic compound emissions.
Source:  Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Ammonia

Ammonia emissions by source

Ammonia (NH3) is a colourless gas with a noticeable odour at high concentrations. It can be poisonous if inhaled in great quantities and is irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also contribute to the nitrification and eutrophication of aquatic systems. In the air, the gas combines with sulphates and nitrates to form secondary fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Key results

  • In 2019, NH3 emissions were 483 kilotonnes (kt). This is 20% higher than in 1990
  • Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) was the main source of NH3 emissions in 2019. Emissions from this source accounted for more than 93% (450 kt) of total national emissions

Total ammonia emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Total ammonia emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total ammonia emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Agriculture
(livestock, crop production and fertilizer)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Manufacturing
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Transportation
(road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 362.6 13.5 20.0 5.1 401.2
1991 359.5 13.8 19.1 5.2 397.6
1992 371.1 14.1 19.0 5.6 409.9
1993 373.8 15.0 18.5 6.0 413.3
1994 385.9 15.5 19.9 6.8 428.2
1995 403.7 17.4 26.6 7.5 455.2
1996 420.1 17.0 26.2 8.2 471.5
1997 425.7 17.1 25.3 9.1 477.1
1998 425.2 17.1 26.1 10.0 478.5
1999 423.2 15.2 24.9 10.9 474.2
2000 432.6 15.5 25.0 11.1 484.2
2001 436.2 14.7 21.8 11.6 484.3
2002 439.9 21.2 21.8 11.3 494.2
2003 446.3 13.2 18.8 11.0 489.4
2004 461.2 12.9 18.6 10.7 503.5
2005 457.8 13.9 17.2 10.5 499.4
2006 449.4 12.8 16.1 9.9 488.2
2007 454.3 12.1 16.1 9.8 492.3
2008 445.6 13.4 13.6 9.2 481.7
2009 432.5 13.2 12.6 8.8 467.1
2010 425.8 13.8 11.5 8.7 459.8
2011 423.5 13.7 11.8 8.4 457.3
2012 440.6 12.6 11.9 7.9 473.0
2013 453.7 13.7 11.2 7.8 486.5
2014 445.3 14.1 11.2 7.3 477.9
2015 448.5 12.9 11.7 7.2 480.3
2016 448.7 13.2 12.0 7.4 481.3
2017 439.3 12.8 11.3 7.5 470.8
2018 452.8 13.2 12.0 7.6 485.5
2019 450.1 13.7 11.1 7.6 482.5

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.74 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from incineration and waste, the oil and gas industry, home firewood burning, ore and mineral industries, electric utilities, building heating and energy generation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, dust and fires, paints and solvents, and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Between 1990 and 2019, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) experienced the largest increase (24% or 87 kt) in NH3 emissions. It also remained the key source of NH3 emissions throughout that period. Emissions from other sources (14 kt), manufacturing (11 kt) and transportation (road, rail, air and marine) (8 kt) combined represented 7% of national emissions in 2019.

The growth in NH3 emissions from agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) between 1990 and 2019 is mainly due to the increased use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Up to 2005, larger livestock populations also added to the growth. However, from 2006 to 2012, livestock populations decreased and have since remained stable. More recently, emissions from crop production have been steadily increasing since 2006.

Ammonia emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • In 2019, Alberta and Saskatchewan accounted for almost half (234 kt) of national NH3 emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019,
    • Ontario experienced the largest emissions reduction. Emissions in the province decreased by 25 kt (22%)
    • The largest increase in NH3 emissions was in Saskatchewan. Emissions in the province more than doubled (a 53 kt increase)

Ammonia emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Ammonia emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Ammonia emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.0 0.9
Prince Edward Island 3.5 2.8
Nova Scotia 4.9 3.6
New Brunswick 4.6 3.7
Quebec 67.1 67.5
Ontario 112.7 87.7
Manitoba 38.7 61.0
Saskatchewan 49.1 101.9
Alberta 96.3 132.3
British Columbia 23.2 21.1
Yukon <0.1 <0.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut <0.1 <0.1

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 936 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, Alberta emitted the most NH3 of all the provinces and territories, accounting for 27% (132 kt) of total national emissions. Saskatchewan contributed the second-largest proportion of NH3, representing 21% (102 kt).

Ontario and Quebec followed with 18% and 14% (88 kt and 67 kt) of total national emissions, respectively. For all provinces, livestock farms and the application of fertilizers were the most important sources of NH3 emissions.

All of the increase in emissions between 1990 and 2019 took place in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.

Ammonia emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore NH3 emissions from individual facilities.

Ammonia emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Ammonia emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of ammonia emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 5 tonne, 5 to 25 tonnes, 25 to 50 tonnes, 50 to 100 tonnes, 100 to 400 tonnes and 400 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported ammonia emissions represent 4% of total national ammonia emissions.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide emissions by source

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas. Once inhaled into the bloodstream, it can inhibit the blood's capacity to carry oxygen to organs and tissues, affecting human health.

Key results

  • In 2019, CO emissions in Canada were 5 129 kilotonnes (kt), a decrease of 55% from 1990 levels
  • Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was the largest source of CO emissions in Canada. In 2019, the sector represented 37% (1 872 kt) of total emissions

 Total carbon monoxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

 Total carbon monoxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total carbon monoxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Transportation
(road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Home firewood burning
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Oil and gas industry
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 5 494.3 2 581.7 2 294.9 812.0 335.2 11 518.2
1991 5 289.2 2 511.4 2 390.9 817.0 325.1 11 333.7
1992 5 288.5 2 572.2 2 218.1 859.4 340.4 11 278.7
1993 5 272.4 2 640.0 2 409.8 862.9 362.3 11 547.4
1994 5 250.1 2 672.0 2 356.4 838.5 398.9 11 516.0
1995 5 034.4 2 720.3 2 392.3 817.5 406.6 11 371.1
1996 4 935.5 2 698.4 2 134.5 835.1 418.9 11 022.5
1997 4 938.1 2 606.6 1 867.0 825.7 468.3 10 705.7
1998 4 969.0 2 532.2 1 778.5 661.9 486.2 10 427.8
1999 4 860.1 2 525.4 1 707.0 643.0 498.4 10 234.0
2000 4 934.8 2 352.2 1 633.5 651.9 443.8 10 016.2
2001 4 684.5 1 956.4 1 523.0 561.7 467.9 9 193.6
2002 4 355.6 2 016.4 1 453.6 542.8 500.0 8 868.6
2003 4 131.5 2 023.7 1 527.1 512.6 530.0 8 724.8
2004 3 806.0 2 151.0 1 231.1 544.2 502.3 8 234.6
2005 3 123.6 1 969.5 1 205.0 560.6 494.7 7 353.5
2006 2 822.8 1 981.2 1 004.7 549.6 504.0 6 862.3
2007 2 703.2 1 970.7 947.8 645.0 523.8 6 790.4
2008 2 557.8 1 878.9 956.1 645.0 541.4 6 579.1
2009 2 364.5 1 805.3 911.1 651.7 525.7 6 258.2
2010 2 256.4 1 792.0 891.3 577.4 521.4 6 038.5
2011 2 056.5 1 545.2 901.1 613.9 527.6 5 644.5
2012 1 953.7 1 392.3 909.5 582.5 532.2 5 370.2
2013 1 910.0 1 372.8 847.5 643.8 563.8 5 337.9
2014 1 755.9 1 389.2 901.4 656.9 549.6 5 253.0
2015 1 730.0 1 344.6 879.5 643.9 557.0 5 154.9
2016 1 804.4 1 204.7 909.2 608.2 537.8 5 064.3
2017 1 823.9 1 257.9 878.1 609.8 552.3 5 121.9
2018 1 849.5 1 292.1 788.3 647.8 568.1 5 145.8
2019 1 872.2 1 281.6 775.5 660.1 539.6 5 129.0

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.79 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from dust and fires, electric utilities, building heating and energy generation, incineration and waste, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer), paints and solvents, ore and mineral industries, manufacturing and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, and home firewood burning were the 3 most important sources of CO. These sources combined represented 74% (3 814 kt) of national emissions.

The largest reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2019 occurred in transportation (road, rail, air and marine) with an emission decrease of 3 622 kt (66%).

The decline in CO emissions between 1990 and 2019 is mainly due to increasingly stringent engine and vehicle regulations and the progressive introduction of cleaner and more efficient technology in vehicles (for example, catalytic converters).

Carbon monoxide emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • In 2019, Ontario and Quebec accounted for 50% (2 590 kt) of national CO emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019,
    • all provinces and territories experienced significant reductions in emissions
    • the largest reductions occurred in Ontario (1 956 kt or 60%), British Columbia (1 686 kt or 71%) and Quebec (989 kt or 44%)

Carbon monoxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Carbon monoxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Carbon monoxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 184.7 80.9
Prince Edward Island 54.9 20.7
Nova Scotia 309.1 130.6
New Brunswick 316.1 128.8
Quebec 2 265.9 1 276.8
Ontario 3 269.4 1 313.3
Manitoba 385.9 171.1
Saskatchewan 521.4 299.4
Alberta 1 813.2 1 010.5
British Columbia 2 363.9 677.8
Yukon 16.4 7.3
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 17.4 11.7

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 976 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, Ontario emitted the most CO of all the provinces and territories, representing 26% (1 313 kt) of the total national emissions. Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) was the most important source of CO emissions for Ontario.

The province of Quebec ranked second, with 25% (1 277 kt) of total national emissions in 2019, with 28% of those emissions from ore and mineral industries.

Alberta, the third largest CO emitter, accounted for 20% (1 010 kt) of total national emissions. The oil and gas industry accounted for 42% of the province's CO emissions.

The sharp decrease in emissions between 1990 and 2019 in all provinces is mainly attributable to emission reductions from transportation (road, rail, air and marine).

Carbon monoxide emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore CO emissions from individual facilities.

Carbon monoxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Carbon monoxide emissions by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of carbon monoxide emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 25 tonnes, 25 to 50 tonnes, 50 to 100 tonnes, 100 to 500 tonnes, 500 to 100 tonnes and 1 000 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported carbon monoxide emissions represent 16% of total national carbon monoxide emissions.
Source:  Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Fine particulate matter

Fine particulate matter emissions by source

Particulate matter (PM) is directly emitted into the air in solid or liquid form. It is also formed in the air from precursor substances such as sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia.Footnote 6  Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) refers to particulate matter with a size of less than 2.5 micrometres (also called microns). It is one of the major components of smog. When inhaled deeply into the lungs, even small amounts of PM2.5 can cause serious health problems. It can also damage vegetation and structures, contribute to haze and reduce visibility.

Key results

  • In 2019, PM2.5 emissions were 1 550 kilotonnes (kt). This is 8% lower than in 1990
  • Emissions from dust and fires (for example, road dust, dust from construction operations and prescribed burning) accounted for the majority of PM2.5 emissions, reaching 62% (962 kt) of total national emissions in 2019.
    • These emissions increased by 81% (432 kt) between 1990 and 2019. Dust from construction operations and unpaved roads accounted for the majority of the increase.

Total fine particulate matter emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Total fine particulate matter emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total fine particulate matter emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Dust and fires
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Agriculture
(livestock, crop production and fertilizer)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Home firewood burning
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Total emissions
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 530.2 677.6 343.3 139.7 1 690.8
1991 514.6 670.5 319.3 139.6 1 644.0
1992 499.4 655.5 311.4 145.8 1 612.1
1993 495.1 641.0 306.0 145.6 1 587.7
1994 542.2 626.6 306.8 140.5 1 616.2
1995 497.5 612.2 306.1 136.2 1 552.0
1996 538.5 598.3 299.4 138.4 1 574.6
1997 597.4 584.4 293.1 135.3 1 610.2
1998 467.2 570.6 282.6 107.6 1 428.0
1999 490.4 557.0 279.9 103.5 1 430.7
2000 468.5 543.4 277.7 103.8 1 393.4
2001 499.5 530.1 247.5 88.6 1 365.7
2002 475.1 509.8 222.6 84.7 1 292.2
2003 509.8 489.7 215.8 78.9 1 294.2
2004 487.0 469.2 209.4 82.7 1 248.3
2005 506.6 449.4 204.2 84.2 1 244.4
2006 562.2 429.6 177.7 81.6 1 251.1
2007 652.2 415.9 173.0 95.1 1 336.1
2008 735.9 402.4 164.3 94.5 1 397.1
2009 644.0 389.3 148.8 94.8 1 276.9
2010 735.0 376.4 151.1 83.5 1 346.0
2011 796.2 363.2 140.4 88.1 1 387.9
2012 907.9 366.3 136.8 82.9 1 493.9
2013 917.2 369.0 132.8 89.5 1 508.4
2014 919.0 371.8 130.0 89.0 1 509.8
2015 938.1 374.7 122.3 84.9 1 520.0
2016 938.8 377.5 116.8 78.6 1 511.6
2017 944.9 380.1 123.2 77.2 1 525.4
2018 961.0 382.6 123.8 79.8 1 547.2
2019 961.9 385.1 124.0 79.2 1 550.2
Total fine particulate matter emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Ore and mineral industries
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Transportation
(road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Manufacturing (emissions in kilotonnes) Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Miscellaneous (emissions in kilotonnes) Oil and gas industry (emissions in kilotonnes) Building heating and energy generation (emissions in kilotonnes) Electric utilities (emissions in kilotonnes) Incineration and waste (emissions in kilotonnes) Paints and solvents (emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 55.3 34.8 116.0 53.7 14.0 12.0 4.6 48.4 4.6 <0.1
1991 52.3 31.9 106.7 51.4 12.1 12.4 4.6 43.4 4.5 <0.1
1992 50.2 31.0 103.7 51.6 12.1 12.8 4.7 40.6 4.6 <0.1
1993 49.9 30.6 102.4 55.6 12.4 12.9 4.9 32.5 4.7 <0.1
1994 51.4 31.0 102.7 60.3 12.9 13.7 4.9 24.9 5.1 <0.1
1995 51.5 29.9 103.6 63.1 13.3 14.0 4.9 20.7 5.0 <0.1
1996 52.9 30.1 98.0 62.2 13.4 14.0 5.2 18.9 4.7 <0.1
1997 54.2 31.5 87.8 61.9 13.8 14.3 5.0 20.1 4.5 <0.1
1998 51.1 32.4 83.2 56.9 14.6 15.9 4.6 19.7 4.3 <0.1
1999 50.0 33.2 83.2 54.2 15.1 13.6 4.8 21.4 4.3 <0.1
2000 51.7 33.9 78.5 52.2 15.6 13.4 5.3 23.0 4.2 <0.1
2001 48.4 33.1 65.1 43.2 15.9 13.3 5.0 19.2 4.1 <0.1
2002 38.2 31.7 56.0 41.3 17.0 13.9 5.2 15.0 4.3 <0.1
2003 38.1 31.4 54.2 41.8 17.0 12.6 5.6 10.9 4.1 <0.1
2004 37.0 31.3 51.0 41.4 17.1 11.9 5.3 10.2 4.2 <0.1
2005 42.0 33.1 45.3 35.9 17.4 12.4 5.2 8.9 3.9 <0.1
2006 40.8 31.4 29.5 32.9 17.4 11.7 4.9 6.0 3.1 <0.1
2007 39.0 30.0 27.4 32.6 17.4 11.4 5.2 7.0 3.0 <0.1
2008 36.9 28.9 24.5 31.4 17.8 10.0 5.1 6.8 2.9 <0.1
2009 31.5 26.3 20.3 29.5 17.9 9.2 5.0 6.1 2.9 <0.1
2010 34.6 25.6 20.1 30.9 17.6 9.1 4.7 5.7 2.8 <0.1
2011 33.1 24.3 20.4 24.6 16.8 9.0 5.0 4.3 2.7 <0.1
2012 35.6 22.9 19.8 21.2 16.9 9.9 4.6 3.2 2.6 <0.1
2013 32.8 21.8 19.9 19.8 16.8 11.0 4.8 3.2 2.5 <0.1
2014 32.6 20.2 18.8 18.3 16.1 12.9 4.9 3.6 2.5 <0.1
2015 31.3 17.1 18.2 17.7 15.3 12.0 4.8 3.5 2.6 <0.1
2016 32.0 16.8 16.7 14.0 15.4 11.3 4.7 3.4 2.6 <0.1
2017 34.7 17.5 16.8 15.0 15.4 12.9 5.0 3.3 2.6 <0.1
2018 34.1 18.2 16.7 16.0 15.4 12.4 5.2 3.2 2.7 <0.1
2019 34.8 18.2 16.2 15.8 15.5 12.7 5.3 2.8 2.7 <0.1

Note: The percentages have been rounded off and their sum may not add up to 100.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 4.57 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation. The category "other sources" includes emissions from ore and mineral industries, transportation (road, rail, air and marine), manufacturing, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, the oil and gas industry, building heating and energy generation, electric utilities, incineration and wastes, paints and solvents, and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category. The numbers have been rounded off and their sum may not correspond to the total.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, 87% of PM2.5 emissions came from open source emissions, such as dust and fires, and agriculture (livestockFootnote 7 , crop production and fertilizer). In general, these emissions are spread over large geographical areas, are highly dependent on weather conditions (for example, wind and rain) and are located outside of urban areas.

The remaining 13% of PM2.5 emissions in 2019 came from home firewood burning (79 kt or 5%) and other sources, including:

  • ore and mineral industries, representing 2% (35 kt) of the emissions
  • transportation (road, rail, air and marine), representing 1% (18 kt)
  • manufacturing and off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, each representing about 1% (16 kt) of emissions
  • miscellaneous sources, such as emissions from commercial cooking, representing 1% (16 kt)
  • the oil and gas industry, representing less than 1% (13 kt)
  • other emissions (less than 1%) coming from building heating and energy generation, electric utilities, incineration and wastes, and the use of paints and solvents

Many of the sources above, despite representing a small proportion of national emissions, can have a disproportionate impact on the population because they are generally concentrated in populated areas.

The decreases in PM2.5 emissions between 1990 and 2019 are mainly attributable to emission reductions from agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer), manufacturing and home firewood burning. These reductions outweigh the increase in emissions from dust and fires over the period. The adoption of conservation practices in crop production and the use of new fireplace inserts, furnaces and stoves in homes that control emissions and burn more efficiently were the main drivers leading to the reductions. Since 2010, however, emissions from dust and fires have gradually increased offsetting reductions from the other sources.

Table 1. Source emissions changes between 1990 and 2019
Source PM2.5
(change in kilotonnes from
1990 to 2019)
PM2.5
(percentage change from
1990 to 2019)
Dust and fires 431.7 81.4
Miscellaneous 1.5 10.5
Building heating and energy generation 0.7 14.4
Oil and gas industry 0.7 5.7
Paints and solvents 0.02 n/a
Incineration and waste -1.8 -40.3
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) -16.5 -47.6
Ore and mineral industries -20.5 -37.0
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment -37.9 -70.7
Electric utilities -45.7 -94.3
Manufacturing -99.8 -86.0
Home firewood burning -60.4 -43.3
Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) -292.5 -43.2
Total -140.6 -8.3

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Note:  n/a = not available. The changes have been calculated using source data that are not rounded.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Fine particulate matter emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • In 2019, Alberta emitted the most PM2.5. The province represented 34% (533 kt) of total national emissions
  • Between 1990 and 2019, all provinces and territories, with the exception of Alberta, Manitoba, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, decreased their emissions
    • The largest decrease was observed in British Columbia with 92 kt (59%)
    • Alberta experienced the largest increase in PM2.5 emissions by 22% (98 kt)

Fine particulate matter emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019

Fine particulate matter emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Fine particulate matter emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2019
Province or territory 1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990, excluding
open sources [A]
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019, excluding
open sources [A]
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 18.7 13.9 12.9 5.1
Prince Edward Island 4.6 3.4 2.1 1.2
Nova Scotia 27.7 15.3 19.0 7.7
New Brunswick 27.1 12.7 18.7 7.0
Quebec 145.4 122.1 101.4 56.9
Ontario 211.7 182.2 114.3 50.3
Manitoba 109.8 110.7 14.5 6.5
Saskatchewan 545.3 485.0 22.8 12.4
Alberta 435.8 533.4 73.1 30.0
British Columbia 156.2 64.1 102.0 25.2
Yukon 4.1 2.5 0.5 0.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 4.4 4.9 1.7 1.0

Note: [A] Open sources include emissions associated with dust and fires and agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer).  

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires and from vegetation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Dust and fires (for example, road dust and prescribed burning) were the largest sources of PM2.5 emissions in Alberta, the highest emitting province in 2019, accounting for 41% (398 kt) of total national dust and fires emissions in 2019.

Saskatchewan ranked second in 2019, with 31% (485 kt) of PM2.5 emissions. Dust and fires were the largest sources, with agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) being the second-largest source of PM2.5.

Ontario ranked third, with 12% (182 kt), and Quebec ranked fourth with 8% (122 kt). For the two provinces, dust and fires were the largest source of emissions.

The increase in emissions in Alberta between 1990 and 2019 can be attributed to growth in construction operations for the oil and gas industries.

The exclusion of emissions from dust and fires and agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) provides a different breakdown of PM2.5 emissions in each province and territory. With these emissions removed, Quebec becomes the largest emitting province of PM2.5 in 2019, representing 28% (57 kt) of total emissions (203 kt). Ontario ranks second with 25% (50 kt) of emissions. Alberta and British Columbia rank third and fourth, both representing 15% and 12% (30 kt and 25 kt, respectively) of emissions. Between 1990 and 2019, all of the provinces and territories experienced emissions reductions between 78% (Yukon) and 42% (Northwest Territories and Nunavut).

Fine particulate matter emissions by facilities

The National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities that meet its reporting criteria.

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators provide access to this information through an interactive map. The map allows you to explore PM2.5 emissions from individual facilities.

Fine particulate matter by reporting facilities, Canada, 2019

Fine particulate matter by reporting facilities, Canada, 2016 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the amount of fine particulate matter emissions in tonnes in 2019 by reporting facility. The categories are: 0 to 0.5 tonne, 0.5 to 1 tonne, 1 to 5 tonnes, 5 to 25 tonnes, 25 to 100 tonnes and 100 tonnes or more.

Note: Facility-reported fine particulate matter emissions represent 3% of total national fine particulate matter emissions.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Navigate data using the interactive map

Black carbon

Black carbon emissions by source

Black carbon is a component of PM2.5 and is generated by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. It is a short-lived climate pollutant, and is linked to both climate warming and adverse human health effects. Reductions in black carbon emissions have near-immediate and local benefits.

Key results

  • Emissions of black carbon were 31 kt in 2019, a decrease of 15% from 2013
  • In 2019, 3 sectors accounted for 85% of national black carbon emissions:
    • off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
    • transportation (road, rail, air and marine)
    • home firewood burning

Total black carbon emissions by source, Canada, 2013 to 2019

Total black carbon emissions by source, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Total black carbon emissions by source, Canada, 2013 to 2019
Year Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment (emissions in kilotonnes) Transportation (road, rail, air and marine)
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Home firewood burning (emissions in kilotonnes) Oil and gas industry (emissions in kilotonnes) Building heating and energy generation (emissions in kilotonnes) Other sources (emissions in kilotonnes) Total emissions (emissions in kilotonnes)
2013 12.6 11.3 8.0 2.2 1.0 1.4 36.6
2014 11.4 10.7 8.0 2.5 1.1 1.3 34.9
2015 10.9 8.8 7.7 2.3 1.0 1.3 32.0
2016 8.4 8.5 7.2 2.1 1.0 1.2 28.4
2017 9.1 9.0 7.2 2.2 1.1 1.2 29.8
2018 9.8 9.4 7.5 2.2 1.2 1.1 31.2
2019 9.6 9.5 7.4 2.3 1.2 1.1 31.2

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires. The chart includes emissions from the most significant sources of black carbon. "Other sources" includes emissions from ore and mineral industries, manufacturing, electric utilities and agriculture. Consult Table 2 in the Data sources and methods for more details.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment (for example, lawn and garden equipment, recreational vehicles, excavators, graders) and transportation (road, rail, air and marine) accounted for the largest proportions of total national emissions, representing 31% and 30% (10 kt) of emissions. Home firewood burning was also a large contributor, representing about 24% (7 kt) of total national emissions. The remaining 15% of emissions came from the oil and gas industry, building heating and energy generation and other sources (such as ore and mineral industries).

For both transportation and off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, the use of diesel engines was the main source of black carbon emissions.

Black carbon emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • In 2019, three provinces, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, accounted for 64% (20 kt) of total national black carbon emissions
  • Between 2013 and 2019,
    • all provinces and territories, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, experienced reductions in black carbon emissions between 1% to 46%
    • Ontario and Quebec experienced the largest reductions in emissions of 1.3 kt and 1.2 kt, respectively 

Black carbon emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2013 and 2019

Total black carbon emissions by source, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data for the long description 
Black carbon emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2013 and 2019
Province or territory 2013
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2019
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.9 0.9
Prince Edward Island 0.2 0.2
Nova Scotia 1.3 1.0
New Brunswick 1.4 0.7
Quebec 7.6 6.5
Ontario 8.0 6.7
Manitoba 1.4 1.3
Saskatchewan 3.5 3.1
Alberta 7.7 6.7
British Columbia 3.9 3.4
Yukon <0.1 <0.1
Northwest Territories 0.4 0.3
Nunavut 0.1 0.1

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. It does not include emissions from natural sources such as forest fires.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory.

Alberta, Ontario and Quebec had the highest black carbon emissions in 2019, combined accounting for 64% (20 kt) of total national emissions. Emissions in Alberta primarily came from three sources, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, transporation (road, rail, air and marine) and the oil and gas industry representing 87% (6 kt) of the emissions. Ontario's emissions also came from off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, and transporation (road, rail, air and marine) as well as home firewood burning each representing about 2 kt of emissions in the province. In Quebec, emissions came primarily from home firewood burning representing 47% (3 kt) of emissions.

Between 2013 and 2019, all the provinces and territories, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, experienced reductions in black carbon emissions with Ontario and Quebec experiencing the largest reductions of 1.3 kt and 1.2 kt, respectively. For both provinces, the reductions were mainly attributable to lower emissions from off-road vehicles and mobile equipment. 

By sector
Transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment

Air pollutant emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment

Transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment are among the largest sources of air pollutants in Canada. Burning fossil fuels to power vehicles and engines causes emissions of many air pollutants. Air pollutants are responsible for the formation of fine particulate matter, ozone, smog and acid rain. They also adversely affect human health, the environment and the economy.

Key results

Contribution of transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment to total air pollutant emissions by transportation mode, Canada, 2019

Contribution of transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment to air pollutant emissions by transportation mode, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Contribution of transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment to total air pollutant emissions by transportation mode, Canada, 2019
Transportation mode Carbon monoxide
(percentage of national emissions)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage of national emissions)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage of national emissions)
Sulphur oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Ammonia
(percentage of national emissions)
Passenger cars and motorcycles 9.9 2.8 2.9 <0.1 <0.1 0.6
Passenger light trucks 16.1 5.0 3.9 <0.1 0.1 0.7
Large trucks and buses 9.5 18.2 1.8 0.7 <0.1 0.2
Air,marine and rail travel 1.1 10.7 0.6 0.2 0.6 <0.1
Off-road vehicles and equipment, tire wear and brake lining 25.0 11.4 8.0 1.1 <0.1 <0.1
Contribution of transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment to total air pollutant emissions by transportation mode, Canada, 2019
Transportation mode Carbon monoxide
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Volatile organic compounds
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Fine particulate matter
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Sulphur oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Ammonia
(emissions in kilotonnes)

Passenger cars and motorcycles

505.2 44.7 48.4 1.1 0.5 2.9
Passenger light trucks 824.8 81.3 65.7 1.5 0.8 3.5
Large trucks and buses 486.2 294.7 30.5 10.3 0.4 1.1
Air,marine and rail travel 55.9 172.6 10.6 3.8 4.1 0.2
Off-road vehicles and equipment, tire wear and brake lining 1 281.6 184.2 133.9 17.4 0.2 0.3

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: "Passenger cars and motorcycles" include cars powered by motor gasoline, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas engines as well as all types of motorcycles. "Passenger light trucks" include light-duty trucks powered by motor gasoline, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas engines. "Large trucks and buses" include heavy-duty trucks powered by motor gasoline, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas engines.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

The contribution of each transportation mode to emissions of different air pollutants is in large part explained by the mix of fuels used in these modes.

Large trucks and buses, and rail and marine rely predominantly on diesel fuel. Aviation relies on turbo aviation fuel. These transportation modes are the largest sources of NOX transportation-related emissions accounting for 29% (467 kilotonnes [kt]) of total NOX emissions.

Passenger cars and light trucks mostly use gasoline and are an important source of pollutants, especially in urban centres. In 2019, emissions from passenger cars, motorcycles and light trucks amounted to 1 330 kt of CO, 126 kt of NOX and 114 kt of VOCs. These emissions represented 26%, 8% and 7% of all emissions of these pollutants respectively.

Other sources (mainly composed of off-road vehicles and equipment)Footnote 8 are also a significant source of pollution. Their combined emissions make up 25%, 11% and 8% of the total emissions of CO, NOX and VOCs, respectively. Emissions mostly come from household use of gasoline- or diesel-powered recreational and lawn and garden equipment and from the operation of agricultural, construction and mining equipment.

The largest source of sulphur oxide (SOX) emissions in the transportation sector is marine vessels. Emissions of SOX from marine vessels decreased by 87% between 2014 and 2019 due to the introduction of more stringent regulations.

Changes in emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment

Key results

  • Between 1990 and 2019, total emissions of NOX, CO and VOCs from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment decreased by 40%, 61% and 76%, respectively
  • Since 2000, all pollutants demonstrated the same downward trend in their emissions level

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Nitrogen oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage change from 1990 level)
1990 0 0 0
1991 -5 -3 -4
1992 -3 -3 -3
1993 0 -2 -2
1994 6 -2 -1
1995 9 -4 -2
1996 11 -5 -4
1997 17 -7 -8
1998 19 -7 -11
1999 23 -9 -13
2000 23 -10 -20
2001 16 -18 -33
2002 9 -21 -36
2003 5 -24 -39
2004 1 -26 -39
2005 -3 -37 -48
2006 -9 -41 -51
2007 -10 -42 -52
2008 -14 -45 -53
2009 -21 -48 -57
2010 -21 -50 -58
2011 -24 -55 -68
2012 -29 -59 -71
2013 -33 -59 -73
2014 -38 -61 -74
2015 -42 -62 -75
2016 -45 -63 -77
2017 -42 -62 -76
2018 -40 -61 -76
2019 -40 -61 -76
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Carbon monoxide
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Volatile organic compounds
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 1 288.4 8 076.1 1 205.3
1991 1 229.9 7 800.6 1 161.0
1992 1 246.7 7 860.7 1 168.7
1993 1 285.9 7 912.4 1 187.1
1994 1 365.4 7 922.2 1 192.5
1995 1 399.9 7 754.7 1 180.7
1996 1 435.4 7 633.9 1 152.5
1997 1 512.2 7 544.7 1 113.7
1998 1 535.4 7 501.2 1 074.1
1999 1 580.1 7 385.5 1 051.6
2000 1 581.6 7 287.0 968.3
2001 1 489.3 6 641.0 801.7
2002 1 403.3 6 372.0 773.9
2003 1 346.4 6 155.2 733.0
2004 1 302.7 5 957.0 733.4
2005 1 248.6 5 093.1 628.3
2006 1 175.8 4 804.0 593.4
2007 1 156.3 4 673.8 583.4
2008 1 108.1 4 436.7 568.1
2009 1 020.2 4 169.7 518.1
2010 1 020.4 4 048.4 502.3
2011 980.3 3 601.8 385.7
2012 910.0 3 346.0 350.1
2013 866.8 3 282.8 329.4
2014 802.4 3 145.1 310.4
2015 752.5 3 074.6 298.7
2016 708.0 3 009.1 277.5
2017 741.0 3 081.8 285.1
2018 773.1 3 141.6 291.7
2019 777.5 3 153.8 289.1

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Fine particulate matter, sulphur oxides and ammonia are not shown in the chart due to their low share (≤ 5%) of total emissions in 2019.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Pollutant emissions have decreased despite economic and population growth as well as growth in transport activities for the period between 1990 and 2019. This decrease is mainly attributable to the adoption of new regulations that lead to the gradual introduction of technologies and clean fuel for vehicles.

Between 1990 and 2000, NOX emissions increased by 23%. It includes the increase in emissions from light trucks (92%), large trucks and buses (44%) and marine transportation (19%). From 2000 to 2019, new regulations contributed to a decrease in emissions from light trucks (60%), large trucks and buses (44%) and emissions from marine travel by 2%. Emissions from air, marine and rail travel represented 11% of national emissions of NOX in 2019.

More recently, since 2017, emissions of all pollutants have started to increase. This can be attributed to an increase in emissions from large trucks and buses for NOX  of 5% and light trucks for CO and VOCs of 7% each; and to a lesser extent emissions from marine transportation of 11% for NOX and large trucks and buses of 2% for CO and 3% for VOCs.

Transportation emissions are influenced by a variety of factors. These include population and economic growth, volume of passenger and freight travel, vehicle type, emission control technologies, fuel efficiency and fuel type.

Electric utilities

Air pollutant emissions from the electric utilities

Electricity generation produces a large share of total national sulphur oxides (SOX) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). SOx and NOX are mostly emitted from power plants burning fossil fuels such as coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas and diesel. These air pollutants are responsible for the formation of fine particulate matter, ozone, smog and acid rain. They also adversely affect human health, the environment, and the economy.

Key results

Contribution of electric utilities to total air pollutant emissions by fuel source, Canada, 2019

Contribution of electric utilities to air pollutant emissions by fuel source, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Contribution of electric utilities to total air pollutant emissions by fuel source, Canada, 2019
Fuel source Sulphur oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage of national emissions)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage of national emissions)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage of national emissions)
Ammonia
(percentage of national emissions)
Coal 28.3 5.4 0.2 0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Natural gas 0.2 1.1 0.2 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Diesel <0.1 0.6 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 n/a
Other sources 0.9 0.6 0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Contribution of electric utilities to total air pollutant emissions by fuel source, Canada, 2019
Fuel source Sulphur oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Carbon monoxide
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Fine particulate matter
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Volatile organic compounds
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Ammonia
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Coal 197.8 87.7 10.9 1.8 0.3 <0.1
Natural gas 1.1 18.3 10.4 0.3 0.6 0.1
Diesel 0.1 9.8 2.3 0.2 <0.1 n/a
Other sources 6.5 9.0 5.6 0.5 0.2 <0.1

Note: n/a = not available.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and ammonia are not shown in the chart due to their low share (≤ 1%) of total emissions in 2019. Excludes emissions from industries that generate electricity and heat as a supporting activity rather than as their primary purpose. "Other" fuel sources include waste material and other uncategorized sources of electricity generation.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, 96% of SOX and 70% of NOX emissions from electric utilities came from burning coal.

While generating electricity by burning fossil fuels causes air pollutant emissions, the use of non-fossil energy sources, such as wind, nuclear and other renewable sources to generate electricity does not emit air pollutants. A large share of the electricity generated in Canada comes from sources that do not emit air pollutants:

  • 60% of electricity comes from hydro
  • 15% comes from nuclear power plants
  • 7% comes from non-hydro renewable sources, such as wind, solar, tidal power and biomassFootnote 9

Changes in emissions from electric utilities

Key results

  • Emissions of SOX and NOX from electric utilities declined by 67% and 51%, respectively, between 1990 and 2019
  • Most of that decline occurred from 2005 onward

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from electric utilities, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from electric utilities, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from electric utilities, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Sulphur oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
1990 0 0
1991 -4 -2
1992 -1 2
1993 -12 -5
1994 -9 -7
1995 -14 -3
1996 -12 5
1997 -4 12
1998 -2 21
1999 -3 19
2000 0 27
2001 1 22
2002 1 23
2003 2 14
2004 -6 4
2005 -16 -1
2006 -26 -13
2007 -20 -7
2008 -31 -12
2009 -38 -15
2010 -46 -9
2011 -53 -23
2012 -54 -35
2013 -55 -37
2014 -56 -35
2015 -59 -41
2016 -59 -41
2017 -60 -44
2018 -64 -50
2019 -67 -51
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from electric utilities, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Sulphur oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 618.4 257.0
1991 592.1 250.9
1992 610.7 262.9
1993 547.2 243.0
1994 559.8 240.0
1995 532.6 248.1
1996 542.2 269.0
1997 591.3 287.7
1998 603.6 310.1
1999 601.1 306.4
2000 619.2 326.8
2001 623.9 313.0
2002 624.3 314.9
2003 630.4 293.0
2004 581.5 267.5
2005 521.9 253.7
2006 458.9 224.3
2007 491.9 238.8
2008 427.5 225.1
2009 384.0 218.0
2010 334.0 233.7
2011 293.2 198.9
2012 284.2 166.3
2013 278.2 162.0
2014 269.2 167.2
2015 251.5 152.4
2016 253.1 152.5
2017 245.5 145.1
2018 220.3 129.2
2019 205.5 124.8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and ammonia are not shown in the chart due to their low share (≤ 1%) of total emissions in 2019. Excludes emissions from industries that generate electricity and heat as a supporting activity rather than as their primary purpose.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Between 1990 and 2019, emissions of NOX and SOX from electric utilities decreased by 51% and 67% respectively. The majority of the decline in emissions occurred from 2005 onwards. Between 2005 and 2019, the share of electricity that came from burning fossil fuels fell from 22% to 20%. This decline was mostly the result of a drop in electricity generation from coal power plants.Footnote 10  The emissions reductions since 2005 are mainly due to:

  • the change in the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity
  • the introduction of regulations
  • domestic and international agreements
  • better removal technologies
  • plant closures
Oil and gas industry

Air pollutant emissions from the oil and gas industry

The oil and gas sector is an important contributor to air pollutant emissions.  Most emissions from the oil and gas sector come from activities such as exploration, drilling, production and field processing. Air pollutants are responsible for the formation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), smog and acid rain. They also adversely affect human health, the environment, and the economy. 

Contribution of the oil and gas industry to total air pollutant emissions by activity type, Canada, 2019

Contribution of the oil and gas industry to air pollutant emissions by activity type, Canada, 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Contribution of the oil and gas industry to total air pollutant emissions by activity type, Canada, 2019
Activity type Volatile organic compounds
(percentage of national emissions)
Sulphur oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage of national emissions)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage of national emissions)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage of national emissions)
Ammonia
(percentage of national emissions)
Upstream oil and gas 37.8 30.1 28.8 10.3 0.7 0.6
Downstream oil and gas 1.6 6.9 0.9 0.3 <0.1 <0.1
Contribution of the oil and gas industry to total air pollutant emissions by activity type, Canada, 2019
Activity type Volatile organic compounds
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Sulphur oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Carbon monoxide
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Fine particulate matter
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Ammonia
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Upstream oil and gas 633.0 210.5 465.7 526.0 11.2 2.9
Downstream oil and gas 26.1 48.4 15.3 13.6 1.5 <0.1

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Fine particulate matter and ammonia are not shown in the chart due to their low share (≤ 1%) of total emissions in 2019.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

In 2019, the oil and gas industry was the sector contributing the most to total national emissions of VOCs and SOX. It was also the second-largest contributor to emissions of NOX, and the fourth-largest contributor to emissions of CO.

Most of emissions from the oil and gas industry came from upstream activities (exploration, drilling, production and field processing) compared to downstream activities (refining, storage and distribution). In 2019, 96% of VOC, 97% of NOX and CO, and 81% of SOX emissions from the oil and gas sector were from upstream activities.

Changes in emissions from the oil and gas industry

Key results

  • Emissions of CO, NOX and VOCs increased by 61%, 39% and 10%, respectively, between 1990 and 2019
  • SOX emissions decreased (51%) over that period

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from the oil and gas industry, Canada, 1990 to 2019

Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from the oil and gas industry, Canada, 1990 to 2016 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from the oil and gas industry, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Carbon monoxide
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Sulphur oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
1990 0 0 0 0
1991 -3 -2 -1 1
1992 2 3 2 8
1993 8 10 6 13
1994 19 19 8 12
1995 21 24 10 11
1996 25 28 15 11
1997 40 40 13 2
1998 45 44 15 -4
1999 49 48 9 -4
2000 32 33 11 -5
2001 40 31 13 -8
2002 49 31 16 -14
2003 58 43 15 -12
2004 50 24 13 -13
2005 48 25 13 -15
2006 50 24 11 -22
2007 56 31 11 -26
2008 62 34 13 -30
2009 57 33 6 -31
2010 56 31 3 -37
2011 57 32 1 -41
2012 59 33 10 -39
2013 68 34 19 -41
2014 64 38 23 -47
2015 66 38 17 -52
2016 60 36 6 -53
2017 65 39 8 -52
2018 69 41 10 -50
2019 61 39 10 -51
Changes in emissions of key air pollutants from the oil and gas industry, Canada, 1990 to 2019
Year Carbon monoxide
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Nitrogen oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Volatile organic compounds
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Sulphur oxides
(emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 335.2 345.8 598.8 531.0
1991 325.1 339.4 593.7 535.2
1992 340.4 356.0 608.2 575.6
1993 362.3 381.2 634.8 602.4
1994 398.9 413.1 648.4 595.5
1995 406.6 429.5 660.2 589.6
1996 418.9 441.6 688.1 587.2
1997 468.3 485.2 678.0 542.1
1998 486.2 496.3 690.7 511.0
1999 498.4 513.5 650.3 507.1
2000 443.8 459.1 667.3 504.7
2001 467.9 453.3 675.6 486.8
2002 500.0 453.3 692.3 459.2
2003 530.0 496.0 690.7 467.5
2004 502.3 430.5 677.1 459.9
2005 494.7 430.7 678.9 452.6
2006 504.0 430.3 666.4 416.2
2007 523.8 453.6 662.8 391.2
2008 541.4 464.0 675.0 369.8
2009 525.7 460.1 632.9 367.0
2010 521.4 451.9 616.3 334.0
2011 527.6 457.6 605.8 315.7
2012 532.2 460.3 656.2 323.2
2013 563.8 464.6 710.8 311.3
2014 549.6 476.7 737.2 280.4
2015 557.0 478.1 697.7 256.1
2016 537.8 470.6 636.9 247.3
2017 552.3 480.9 647.0 256.0
2018 568.1 486.2 660.4 264.4
2019 539.6 481.0 659.1 259.0

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.38 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Fine particulate matter and ammonia are not shown in the chart due to their low share (≤ 1%) of total emissions in 2019.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

The increases in CO, NOX and VOC emissions were due to growth in oil and gas production (the upstream sector of the industry), as emissions from the downstream sector declined due to facility closures during that period. This increase is in part explained by the fact that crude oil production more than doubled in Canada since 1990. The growth was mostly driven by a rapid increase in oil sands production. During the same period, production of natural gas from unconventional sources, such as those requiring the use of multi-stage fracturing techniques, also increased significantly.

The decrease in SOX emissions was mostly the result of a decrease in emissions from bitumen and heavy oil upgrading and natural gas processing, attributed to better emission control technologies.

About the indicators

About the indicators

What the indicators measure

Air pollutant emissions indicators track emissions from human activities of 6 key air pollutants: sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide (CO) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Black carbon, which is a component of PM2.5, is also reported.Footnote 11  Sectoral indicators on air pollutant emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, electric utilities and the oil and gas industry provide additional analysis on the largest sources of Canada's air pollutant emissions.

For each air pollutant, the indicators are provided at the national and provincial/territorial levels. They also identify the major sources of emissions and provide links to detailed information on air pollutant emissions from facilities.Footnote 12 

Why these indicators are important

Canadians are exposed to air pollutants on a daily basis, which can cause adverse health and environmental effects. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone (O3) are key components of smog and have been associated with pulmonary and cardiovascular health issues even at very low levels. While causing effects of their own, NOX (such as nitrogen dioxide [NO2]) and VOCs are the main contributors to the formation of O3. Nitrogen oxides, SOX (such as sulphur dioxide [SO2]), NH3 and VOCs also lead to the formation of PM2.5 in the air, in addition to the PM2.5 that is emitted directly. Sulphur oxides and NOX can also lead to the formation of acid deposition (acid rain) that can harm the environment, materials, living organisms, and humans.

Consult Air pollution: drivers and impacts for information on the impacts of air pollution on health, the economy and the environment, as well as information on the federal regulations administered under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) addressing air pollution.

Black carbon is estimated to be the third largest contributor in the world to current global warming. Black carbon is of particular significance in Polar Regions, where the deposition of particles on ice and snow darken the surface, increasing the absorption of sunlight, and accelerate melting. 

The Air pollutant emissions indicators are intended to inform Canadians and decision makers about progress made towards reducing emissions from human-related sources of air pollutants and about the effectiveness of emission reduction measures implemented to improve ambient air quality in Canada.

Safe and healthy communities

These indicators track progress on the 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, supporting the target: Continued decrease in emissions from 1990 of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and volatile organic compounds from all sources. The most recent data available shows that, in 2019, emissions of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and sulphur oxides were 8% to 77% lower than in 1990.

In addition, the indicators contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are linked to Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities.

Related indicators

The International comparison: air pollutant emissions in selected countries indicators compare Canada's emissions of 5 key air pollutants with those of top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Air health trends indicator provides an overview of the public health impacts attributable to outdoor air pollution in Canada.

The Air quality indicators track ambient concentrations of PM2.5, O3, SO2, NO2, and VOCs at the national and regional level and at local monitoring stations.

The Emissions of harmful substances to air indicators track human-related emissions to air of 3 toxic substances, namely mercury, lead and cadmium, and their compounds. For each substance, data are provided at the national, provincial/territorial and facility level and by source. Global emissions to air are also provided for mercury.

The Greenhouse gas emissions indicators report trends in total anthropogenic (human-made) GHG emissions at the national level, per person and per unit gross domestic product, by province and territory and by economic sector.

The Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities indicator reports GHG emissions from the largest GHG emitters in Canada (industrial and other types of facilities).

The Population exposure to outdoor air pollutants indicator tracks the proportion of the Canadian population living in areas where outdoor concentrations of air pollutants are less than or equal to the 2020 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Data sources and methods

Data sources and methods

Data sources

The Air pollutant emissions indicators track emissions of 6 key air pollutants: sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide (CO) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The emissions data used are from Canada's Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory for the years 1990 to 2019.

Data for the black carbon indicator, a component of PM2.5, come from Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory and are reported for 2019 by source at the national level and by province and territory.

Facility data for local air pollutant emissions reported in interactive maps come from the National Pollutant Release Inventory and are available for the years 2009 to 2019.

More information

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and the Black Carbon Emissions Inventory provide data and estimates on releases of air pollutants from human activities. These pollutants contribute to smog, acid rain, reduced air quality and climate change. Improvements to data and the analysis of trends are made periodically as new emission estimation methodologies are adopted and additional information is made available. Historical emissions are updated on the basis of these improvements.

Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory fulfills many of Canada's international pollution levels reporting obligations.  Specifically, under the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, Canada is committed to submitting an annual inventory of emissions of key air pollutants to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The inventory is a comprehensive assessment of 17 air pollutants,Footnote 13 combining emissions reported by facilities to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, with emissions estimated by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Estimates are developed using the latest estimation methods and are based on published statistics or other sources of information such as surveys and reports. The Air Pollutant Emission Inventory provides a comprehensive overview of pollutant emissions across Canada.

The national and provincial/territorial inventory data are current as of March 15, 2021, and cover the period from 1990 to 2018. Emissions data are compiled into a database for reporting approximately one year after data collection, validation and calculation have been completed. After this process is the interpretation of results and public reporting of the inventory. The Air pollutant emissions indicators are reported following the public release of the inventory data.

Black carbon emissions inventory

As a member of the Arctic Council, Canada committed under the Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions to submit annual inventories of its black carbon emissions to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe beginning in 2015. The Black Carbon Emissions Inventory is compiled using PM2.5 emissions data from combustion-related sources from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory. Black carbon estimates are published separately from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory. The data are current as of March 15, 2021.

Black carbon is considered a short-lived climate pollutant, meaning it has a relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere (from a few days to a few weeks) compared to carbon dioxide (CO2) (which can persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years) and other longer-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs). Although their life spans are short, short-lived climate pollutants are potent global warmers contributing to warming of the Earth's surface.Footnote 14  Black carbon absorbs solar radiation 460 to 1 500 times more than CO2.Footnote 15  Short-lived climate pollutants, including black carbon, are important pollutants to consider when addressing climate change because they can respond relatively quickly to efforts to control their releases and thus impact near-term warming, which is particularly important in the Polar Regions, such as the Arctic.Footnote 16  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming states that reductions in short-lived climate pollutants are required to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5oC, and Canada's Changing Climate Report flags short-lived climate pollutants as an important part of climate policy discussions.

National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory is a database of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling from industrial, commercial and institutional facilities. The data from these facilities is provided by the operators of the facilities as mandated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (the Act). Under the Act, owners or operators of facilities that manufacture, process or otherwise use or release one or more of the substances tracked by the inventory, and meet substance-specific reporting thresholds and other requirements, must report their pollutant releases, disposals and transfers annually to the department. The inventory data from 1994 to 2019 are current as of March 12, 2021.

Methods

Emissions data from Canada's national inventories are used to produce the indicators for the 6 key air pollutants. Data are grouped to report on the sources that contribute the majority of emissions for each pollutant. Canada's national inventories use the latest advancements in scientific knowledge to estimate or measure emissions for the various air pollutant sources.

More information

Compilation of air pollutant emissions

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory is developed using 2 types of information:

  • facility-reported data, consisting of emissions from relatively large industrial, commercial and institutional facilities
  • in-house estimates, including diffuse sources and other sources that are too numerous to be accounted for individually, such as road and non-road vehicles, agricultural activities, construction and solvent use

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory is developed using many sources of information, procedures and emission estimation models. Emissions data reported by individual facilities to the department's National Pollutant Release Inventory are supplemented with documented, science-based estimation tools to quantify total emissions. Together, these data sources provide a comprehensive overview of pollutant emissions across Canada.

A compilation framework has been developed that makes use of the best available data, while ensuring that there is no double-counting or omissions. Additional information on the inventory compilation process is provided in Chapter 3 (PDF;4.14 MB) of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report.

Facility-reported emissions data

Facility-reported emissions data generally refers to any stationary sources that emit pollutants through stacks or other equipment at specific locations. The major source of facility-reported data is the National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Facility-reported data from the National Pollutant Release Inventory are used in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory without modifications, except when data quality issues are detected and not addressed during the quality control exercise. The National Pollutant Release Inventory reporting requirements and thresholds vary by pollutant and, in some cases, by industry. Details on these reporting requirements and thresholds are available on the National Pollutant Release Inventory website.

A distinction has been made between reporting facilities and non-reporting facilities. Reporting facilities meet the threshold required to report to the National Pollutant Release Inventory; while non-reporting facilities do not meet these thresholds due to their size or emission levels, and therefore are not required to report to the inventory. Some facilities may be required to report emissions on only certain pollutants. Therefore, emissions from the non-reporting facilities or of non-reported pollutants must be estimated in‑house to ensure complete coverage.

In-house emission estimates

In-house emission estimates are calculated with information such as production data and activity data, using various estimation methodologies and emission models. These emission estimates are at the national level rather than at any specific geographic locations. These include emissions from non-industrial, residential, commercial, transportation, and other sources, such as open burning, agricultural activities and construction operations. The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory uses in-house estimates for the following emission sources:

  • any residential, governmental, institutional, or commercial operation that does not report to the National Pollutant Release Inventory
  • on-site solid waste disposal facilities
  • motor vehicles, aircraft, vessels or other transportation equipment or devices
  • other sources, such as open burning, agricultural activities and construction operations

In general, in-house emission estimates are calculated from activity data and emission factors.Footnote 17  Activity data usually comprise statistical production or process data at the provincial, territorial or national level. This information is typically provided by provincial/territorial agencies, federal government departments, industry associations, etc. For each source category, activity data are combined with emission factors to produce provincial/territorial-level emission estimates.

The in-house emission estimate methodologies and emission models used in Canada are often based on those developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and are adapted to reflect the Canadian climate, fuels, technologies and practices. Methods used in Canada's Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory are therefore generally consistent with those used in the United States or those recommended in the emission inventory guidebook.Footnote 18

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory reports air pollutant emissions from mobile sources such as on-road vehicles, off-road vehicles and engines. For the current edition of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory, an emissions estimation model developed by the U.S. EPA (MOVES) was used. The emissions for off-road vehicles and engines (such as graders, heavy trucks, outboard motors and lawnmowers) were estimated using the U.S. EPA's NONROAD emission estimation model (see "off-road vehicles and equipment" in Table A2-4 of Annex 2 (PDF;4.14 MB) of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report). The parameters in both models were modified to take into account variations in the Canadian vehicle fleet, emission control technologies, types of fuels, vehicle standards, and types of equipment engines and their application in various industries. The emission estimates for civil and international aviation, railways and navigation are estimated using detailed vehicle movement statistics coupled with fuel consumption, engine information, and emission rates by vehicle types.

Calculation of black carbon emissions

Emissions of black carbon are calculated by applying factors to estimate the fraction of black carbon in PM2.5 emissions from combustion-related sources, with the exception of mobile sources, where models are used. The factors primarily come from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's SPECIATE database. SPECIATE is a repository of particulate matter speciation profilesFootnote 19  of air pollution sources. Annex 2 of Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory lists all the ratios used for each source.

Recalculations

Emission recalculation is an essential practice in the maintenance of an up-to-date air pollutant emissions inventory. The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory is continuously updated with improved estimation methodologies, statistics and more recent and appropriate emission factors. As new information and data become available, previous estimates are updated and recalculated to ensure a consistent and comparable trend in emissions. Recalculations of previously reported emission estimates are common for both in-house estimates and facility-reported emission data. More information on recalculations is provided in Annex 3 (PDF;4.14 MB) of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report.

Emissions reconciliation

In several sectors, estimation of total emissions involves combining estimates provided by facilities with estimates developed in-house by the department. To prevent double counting of emissions and to confirm that the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory includes all emissions, a comparison and reconciliation of emission estimates from various sources is performed for each pollutant, industry sector and geographical region, as appropriate. More information on the reconciliation process is provided in section 3.4 (PDF;4.14 MB) of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report.

Temporal coverage

Historical data are provided at the national level for the period from 1990 to 2019. For the regional indicators (provincial/territorial), emissions are presented for 1990 and 2019. Facility level emissions information are available from 2009 to 2018.

Air pollutant emissions by source classification

For the purpose of reporting the indicators, calculated emissions data from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Black Carbon Emissions Inventory are grouped into the following 13 sources:

  1. agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer)
  2. building heating and energy generation
  3. dust and fires
  4. electric utilities
  5. home firewood burning
  6. incineration and waste
  7. manufacturing
  8. miscellaneous
  9. off-road vehicles and mobile equipment
  10. oil and gas industry
  11. ore and mineral industries
  12. paints and solvents
  13. transportation (road, rail, air and marine)

Table 2 shows the allocation of air pollutant emission sources reported in the indicators compared with the sources and sectors reported by the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

Table 2. Alignment of sources reported in the indicators with the sources and sectors from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory/Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Sources in the indicators Sources and sectors in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) Agriculture: Animal production
Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) Agriculture: Crop production
Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) Agriculture: Fuel use
Building heating and energy generation Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Commercial and institutional fuel combustion
Building heating and energy generation Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Construction fuel combustion
Building heating and energy generation Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Residential fuel combustion
Dust and fires Dust: Coal transportation
Dust and fires Dust: Construction operations
Dust and fires Dust: Mine tailings
Dust and fires Dust: Paved roads
Dust and fires Dust: Unpaved roads
Dust and fires Fires: Prescribed burning
Dust and fires Fires: Structural fires
Electric utilities Electric power generation (utilities): Coal
Electric utilities Electric power generation (utilities): Diesel
Electric utilities Electric power generation (utilities): Natural gas
Electric utilities Electric power generation (utilities): Waste materials[A]
Electric utilities Electric power generation (utilities): Other (electric power generation)
Home firewood burning Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Home firewood burning
Incineration and waste Incineration and waste: Crematoriums
Incineration and waste Incineration and waste: Waste incineration
Incineration and waste Incineration and waste: Waste treatment and disposal
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Abrasives manufacture
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Bakeries
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Biofuel production
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Chemicals industry
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Electronics
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Food preparation
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Glass manufacturing
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Grain industry
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Metal fabrication
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Plastics manufacturing
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Pulp and paper industry
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Textiles
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Vehicle manufacturing (engines, parts, assembly, painting)
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Wood products
Manufacturing Manufacturing: Other (manufacturing)
Miscellaneous Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Commercial cooking
Miscellaneous Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Human[B]
Miscellaneous Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Marine cargo handling
Miscellaneous Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Other (commercial/residential/institutional)
Miscellaneous Commercial/Residential/Institutional: Service stations
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment Transportation and mobile equipment: Off-road diesel vehicles and equipment
Off-road vehicles and mobile equipment Transportation and mobile equipment: Off-road gasoline / liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles and equipment
Oil and gas industry Oil and gas industry: Downstream oil and gas industry
Oil and gas industry Oil and gas industry: Upstream oil and gas industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Aluminum industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Asphalt paving industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Cement and concrete industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Foundries
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Iron and steel industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Iron ore industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Mineral products industry
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Mining and rock quarrying
Ore and mineral industries Ore and mineral industries: Non-ferrous refining and smelting industry[C]
Paints and solvents Paints and solvents: Dry cleaning
Paints and solvents Paints and solvents: General solvent use
Paints and solvents Paints and solvents: Printing
Paints and solvents Paints and solvents: Surface coatings
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Air transportation (Landing and takeoff)
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty diesel vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty gasoline vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty diesel trucks
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty diesel vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty gasoline trucks
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty gasoline vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas trucks
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Domestic marine navigation, fishing and military
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Motorcycles
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Rail transportation
Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) Transportation and mobile equipment: Tire wear and brake lining

Note: [A] Includes electric power generation from combustion of waste materials by utilities and by industry for commercial sale and/or private use. [B] Includes human respiration, perspiration and dental amalgams. [C] These sectors from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory are sometimes shown as individual sources in the indicators.

For display purposes, smaller emitting sources are sometimes grouped together under the title Other sources in the charts of air pollutant emissions by source. The names of the sources grouped as such are listed in the notes of each chart.

Sectoral indicators

Sectoral indicators on air pollutant emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, electric utilities and the oil and gas industry provide additional analysis on the largest sources of Canada's air pollutant emissions. These indicators also rely on calculated emissions data from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

These indicators are provided at the national level. They identify the contribution of each sector to the national emissions of air pollutants for the year 2019. They also provide information about emissions of selected pollutant, by sector, for the period from 1990 to 2019.

Tables 3 through 5 below show the alignment of air pollutant emission sources reported in the Air pollutant emissions indicators compared with those reported by the sectoral indicators.

Table 3. Alignment of sources reported in the transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment indicator of Air pollutant emissions with the sources and sectors from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory/Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Air pollutant emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment Sources and sectors in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Air, marine and rail travel Transportation and mobile equipment: Air transportation (Landing and takeoff)
Air, marine and rail travel Transportation and mobile equipment: Domestic marine navigation, fishing and military
Air, marine and rail travel Transportation and mobile equipment: Rail transportation
Large trucks and buses Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty diesel vehicles
Large trucks and buses Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty gasoline vehicles
Large trucks and buses Transportation and mobile equipment: Heavy-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles
Off-road vehicles and equipment, tire wear and brake lining Transportation and mobile equipment: Off-road diesel vehicles and equipment
Off-road vehicles and equipment, tire wear and brake lining Transportation and mobile equipment: Off-road gasoline / liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles and equipment
Off-road vehicles and equipment, tire wear and brake lining Transportation and mobile equipment: Tire wear and brake lining
Passenger cars and motorcycles Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty diesel vehicles
Passenger cars and motorcycles Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty gasoline vehicles
Passenger cars and motorcycles Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas vehicles
Passenger cars and motorcycles Transportation and mobile equipment: Motorcycles
Passenger light trucks Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty diesel trucks
Passenger light trucks Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty gasoline trucks
Passenger light trucks Transportation and mobile equipment: Light-duty liquefied petroleum gas / natural gas trucks
Table 4. Alignment of sources reported in the electric utilities indicator of Air pollutant emissions with the sources and sectors from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory/Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Air pollutant emissions from electric utilities Sources and sectors in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Coal Electric power generation (utilities): Coal
Diesel Electric power generation (utilities): Diesel
Natural gas Electric power generation (utilities): Natural gas
Other Electric power generation (utilities): Waste materials [A]
Other Electric power generation (utilities): Other (electric power generation)

Note: [A] Includes electric power generation from combustion of waste materials by utilities and by industry for commercial sale and/or private use.

Table 5. Alignment of sources reported in the oil and gas industry indicator of Air pollutant emissions with the sources and sectors from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory/Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Air pollutant emissions from the oil and gas industry Sources and sectors in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
Downstream oil and gas Oil and gas industry: Downstream oil and gas industry
Upstream oil and gas Oil and gas industry: Upstream oil and gas industry

Recent changes

The emission estimates reported in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory used in the indicators have undergone a number of significant recalculations. Specifically, the sector emissions for ore and mineral industires, the oil and gas industry, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, commercial/residential/institutional, incineration and waste, paints and solvents and fires, following the implementation of improved quantification methods. These recalculations can be particularly observed with the large emissions reduction in volatile organic compounds from previously reported 2018 emissions. For more information about these recent changes, consult Annex 3 (PDF;4.14 MB) of the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory Report.

Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory has undergone a number of recalculations of emissions estimates. Specifically, methodological improvements have been made to all sources to improve the accuracy of estimates. Consult section 3.3 of Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory for more information.

Caveats and limitations

The methodologies for compiling air pollutant emissions generally improve over time, and revisions are made to the Air Pollution Emissions Inventory. As a result of this, the emissions and trends reported for the indicators may be different from those previously published.

Some area source emissions were not updated for 2019 due to the unavailability of activity-level statistics at the time of compilation. In these cases, the emission estimates from the most recent year available were used.

The Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory uses facility information from the National Pollutant Release Inventory and other sources. The version of the data published by the National Pollutant Release Inventory may not be identical to that used in the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory at a given time because of updates to point source data from National Pollutant Release Inventory reporting. The inventory also uses different rounding protocols in its final report and total emissions reported in the indicators may be slightly different.

Only the most significant sources of black carbon have been reported. It is estimated that emissions from these sources (home firewood burning, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment and transportation) represent approximately 88% of the national anthropogenic black carbon emissions.

Resources

Resources

References

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2017) Using and interpreting data from the National Pollutant Release Inventory. Retrieved on March 4, 2021.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory report - 2021. Retrieved on March 15, 2021.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Canada's Black Carbon Inventory 2021. Retrieved on March 15, 2021.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Retrieved on March 4, 2021.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) National Pollutant Release Inventory. Retrieved on March 12, 2021.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Tools and resources for the National Pollutant Release Inventory data. Retrieved on March 15, 2021.

Related information

Air pollution: drivers and impacts

Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory: overview

Interactive figures
Updated July 2021

These interactive figures support the Air pollutant emissions indicators. Use them to explore the latest emissions data for the 6 key air pollutants and black carbon in a dynamic and customizable format.

Select data by using the drop-down menu above each figure and clear your selections by clicking the "Reset figures" button on the right-hand side of the dashboard.  All values in the figures will automatically update based on your selections.

You can also choose to use your keyboard to navigate the figures.

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021) Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory, Canada's Black Carbon Emissions Inventory.

Download data file for key air pollutants (Excel/CSV; 703 kB)

Download data file for black carbon (Excel/CSV; 97.3 kB)

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Command Shortcuts
Move focus to visual menu Alt + Shift + F10
Show as a table Alt + Shift + F11
Enter a visual Ctrl + Right arrow
Enter a layer Enter
Exit a layer or visual Esc
Select or unselect data point Space
Multi-select data points Ctrl + Space
Show data point details Ctrl + H
Clear data selection Ctrl + Shift + C
Slicer control Enter

More keyboard shortcuts and accessibility features

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