Inorganic cadmium compounds – performance measurement evaluation (ecological component)

This summary covers the ecological component of the performance measurement for inorganic cadmium compounds. The health component will be covered in a separate report.

The Government of Canada first assessed inorganic cadmium compounds in 1994, where it was concluded that several inorganic cadmium compounds were entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have a harmful effect on the environment and may constitute a danger to human life or health in Canada. For this reason, they were added to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) in March 2000. Based on past assessment activities and risk management actions, it was determined that the risks of inorganic cadmium compounds were addressed by existing measures for key industrial sectors or similar pollutants. As a result, it was concluded that existing measures put in place to control releases of metals and other toxic substances were adequate in managing the risks of inorganic cadmium compounds to the environment. tNo objectives were previously developed for cadmium, but using the objectives of the Toxic Substances Management Policy for guidance, and considering objectives proposed for other toxic metal substances, the following objectives are proposed for the purposes of this evaluation:Footnote 1

Cadmium is an elemental metal that is found naturally in the earth's crust. Cadmium is produced primarily as a by-product of zinc refining and may be found in many different products like batteries, paints and coatings, ceramics, and plastics and solar cells. Cadmium does not break down in the environment, and may be found in air, water, soil, sediment, plants, and animals, including humans.

Overall, the performance measurement evaluation found that progress has been made to achieve the risk management and environmental objectives. Risk management measures have generally been effective at reducing releases for the sources of concern identified in the 1994 assessment:

The evaluation recommends the base metals smelting and refining industry and other sectors of concern should continue to further reduce releases through existing risk management measures. Measures should be updated as appropriate to capture advances in best environmental practices and best available technologies and allow for tracking of the rate of implementation of voluntary measures.

Monitoring cadmium levels in the environment must continue in order to provide evidence for future evaluations. Research into adverse effects levels and sub chronic effects of cadmium in wildlife and fish tissues is also recommended in order to better evaluate environmental risk levels. Monitoring should also continue in order to understand the impacts of cadmium releases from sources in the United States on levels in the Canadian environment.

In summary, human activities continue to release cadmium into the environment, resulting in levels above which adverse effects can be expected. Investigation is needed to determine whether releases can feasibly be reduced further and whether new risk management actions are required for some sectors and sources. Continued collaboration with international and domestic partners is important to manage releases from areas beyond federal jurisdiction. A follow-up evaluation on the performance of risk management actions is recommended by 2033 to allow for the implementation of new measures where warranted and collection of performance measurement data and environmental data.

In addition, there have been few communications materials published on cadmium in the environment and associated environmental risks. Communication is expected to improve as Environment and Climate Change Canada has recently undertaken increased efforts to make information on the risk management of toxic substances more available.

A performance measurement evaluation of the effectiveness of the Government of Canada's actions to address risks to human health from inorganic cadmium compounds will be conducted separately by Health Canada.

Complete details on the performance measurement evaluation for inorganic cadmium compounds can be found in the Performance Measurement Evaluation of the Ecological Component for Inorganic Cadmium Compounds.

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Footnote 1

A human health objective may be proposed in the health toxic performance measurement report

Return to footnote 1 referrer

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