Environmental Contaminants

Environmental contaminants are substances that, when accidentally or deliberately introduced into the environment, may have the potential to harm people, wildlife and plants.

Health Canada works jointly with  Environment Canada to assess the potential risks to human health posed by new and existing substances in Canada under the  Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) . We also provide assistance to other federal agencies in the development of environmental standards and programs to ensure adequate protection for Canadians and for fish and wildlife resources.

Recent achievements by Health Canada include the development of a Management Action Plan highlighting our responses and progress to date with respect to the recommendations put forward in the Report on Health Canada's Achievements (2000-2004) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999.

Our specialists review environmental documents, legislation, regulations, and permits and licenses to ensure that harmful effects on human health are avoided or minimized.

What Information is Available

In this section, you will find current information on issues straight from our environmental contaminants specialists. You will also have access to updated lists of toxic substances in the existing substances division.

Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals

Biomonitoring is the direct measurement of people's exposure to chemicals in the environment. This involves measuring substances, or the products they make after they have broken down, in human specimens such as blood and urine. Because biomonitoring measurements indicate the amount of a chemical that actually gets into people from all environmental sources they provide the most health-relevant assessment of exposure.

Health Canada's Role

Health Canada's role is one of fostering biomonitoring surveys and studies, science and research. In addition, Health Canada works to produce and disseminate national and population-specific biomonitoring data, identifies new priority substances for future studies, contributes to international monitoring efforts, and facilitates cooperation with other organizations with an interest in biomonitoring.

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