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Part I - Canada's Draft National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention
Chapter 7: Supporting Activities
Under Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention, Parties agree to make efforts to
- promote and facilitate public awareness, education and training and to ensure public access to information on POPs as well as on their health and environmental effects and about the Convention and its implementation.
- encourage and/or undertake research, development, monitoring and cooperation pertaining to POPs and support international research programs and those in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
7.1 Public information, awareness and education
Under Article 10, each Party is required, "within its capabilities", to promote and facilitate public awareness, education and training activities, and to ensure public access to updated information. Each Party is to give "sympathetic consideration" to developing mechanisms for the collection and dissemination of quantitative information on annual releases and disposal of POPs.
Canada makes environmental and human health information on POPsavailable to the public, and has existing labeling and consumer awareness measures. There is a wide range of information provided, from scientific journal articles and workshop proceedings to the transparent processes of substance assessments under CEPA1999. Public information on POPs is available through a variety of sources, including federal, provincial and territorial Internet sites. As the federal government moves forward with its government-on-line initiative, this will likely facilitate the availability of even broader amounts of public information in the future.
The CEPA 1999 Environmental Registry was launched with the proclamation of CEPA 1999 on March 31, 2000. It is a key instrument in meeting the commitment to public participation by providing comprehensive access to information related to the administration of the Act. It also provides an opportunity for the Canadian public to understand how the federal government administers CEPA 1999 by facilitating access, directly and through search capabilities, to public documents.
With coming into force of the new PCPA, provision of pesticide related information will be facilitated by establishing a public registry to allow access to evaluation reports on registered pesticides, as well as information related to the administration of the new PCPA. The public will also be allowed to inspect the test data on which pesticide evaluations are based, but will not be permitted to obtain a copy of the test data.
The Northern Contaminants Program, in addition to conducting research and monitoring, provides northerners with the results of research (for example, the 1997 community reference manual, entitled Highlights of the Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report) and information that assists them in making decisions about what foods to eat and how they should be consumed.
Information from the Northern Contaminants Program has been used by other organizations to assist them with their public outreach efforts. For example, the Council of Yukon First Nations has developed a website and guidance materials based on NCP data.
The 2005 Update to the CCME's Strategic Implementation Framework for International Commitments on Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)19 provides additional information on provincial/territorial and federal education and awareness programs.
Regarding the collection and dissemination of quantitative information on annual releases and disposal of POPs, Canada will provide this information through existing mechanisms. The NPRI under CEPA 1999 includes facility reporting of dioxin, furan and HCB releases. The National Inventory of PCBs in Use and PCB Wastes in Storage in Canada provides annual inventory information on PCBs. PCB disposal and destruction information will be added to the PCB national inventory (anticipated in 2008). These programs will be used to meet Canada's obligations with respect to reporting, as discussed in Chapter 8 of this NIP. These measures go well beyond the Convention's requirement to "give sympathetic consideration".
Public information and education is a component of the National Action Plan on Unintentional POPs, in Part II of this Plan.
7.2 Research, development and monitoring
Under Article 11 of the Convention, Parties agree to within their capabilities (and among other actions):
- encourage and/or undertake, at the national and international levels, appropriate research, development, monitoring and cooperation pertaining to POPs, to their alternatives, and to candidate POPs;
- support international research programs; and
- strengthen research capabilities in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
Canada has a number of domestic programs dealing with research, development and monitoring of POPs, which also contribute to international knowledge. In addition, Canada participates directly in international POPs research and monitoring activities, including assisting capacity building in countries and countries with economies in transition. Several of these domestic and international activities are outlined below.
An example of current research and monitoring on POPs in Canada is given by the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) which began in 1991 and is an on-going program. The presence of toxic contaminants in the arctic ecosystem and their impact on arctic human health are high profile northern issues addressed by the NCP. The NCP is part of the larger circumpolar program on POPs, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, and will continue to contribute data to international monitoring programs. Program results gathered during the 1990s demonstrated how POPs are transported from other regions of the globe and deposited in the Arctic where they accumulate in fat-rich marine species depended upon by arctic aboriginal people for food. As a result of this contamination certain arctic human populations are exposed to levels of POPs that exceed Health Canada and World Health Organization guideline levels for certain POPs (e.g., PCBs) indicating a level of concern. Of particular concern is exposure to POPs at early life stages, when development is most sensitive to toxic effects. Studies in Canada and other parts of the world have associated human fetal exposure to POPs with reduced birth sizes and weights, and subtle changes in neurobehavioural and immunological development.
Human health research under the NCP includes the following objectives:
- monitor and assess trends (temporal and spatial) in POPexposure (those listed under the Stockholm Convention as well as candidate POPchemicals) from maternal/cord blood, human milk and other tissues;
- conduct research to assess the potential effects and risks to humans from consuming traditional/country foods with a focus on the developing fetus and child whose exposure is passed on from the mother and is directly related to her diet; and
- improve methods for modelling dietary exposure, and assessing benefits and risks from traditional/country foods and their alternatives, to assist individuals in making informed decisions.
Environmental research under the NCP is carried out to:
- assess temporal and geographic trends of POPs and emerging candidate POPs in Arctic air and biota that are important to the diet of Arctic indigenous people (e.g. ringed seal);
- investigate environmental processes that influence the fate and transport of POPs and candidate POPs to and within the Arctic and how these processes influence wildlife exposure;
- promote the development of new and improved techniques for the measurement of POPs and candidate POPs in a variety of environmental media; and
- develop a standard protocol for archiving environmental samples and data in a stable and secure manner that ensures future availability and accessibility.
NCPactivities related to Aboriginal partnerships, education and communications:
- develop and provide northerners with effective advice (i.e., culturally sensitive using the appropriate Aboriginal language) and information needed to make informed decisions on their food use, led by the Aboriginal partner organizations of the NCP;
- investigate and promote the nutritional value of certain traditional foods that may be consumed while leading to reduced contaminant exposure (e.g. Arctic char);
- formulate alternative contaminant reduction strategies appropriate for specific target population groups such as women up to the end of their child-bearing years; and
- ensure open access to NCP results and publications through the program's web site.
Monitoring of atmospheric transport and deposition of POPs have been conducted in Canada since the early nineties and are on-going. First, the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN), a collaborative effort between Canada and the United States, started in 1990 as a result of Annex 15 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The IADN mandate is to measure POPs concentrations in air and precipitation in the Great Lakes region to estimate the atmospheric loadings to the Great Lakes. Results from IADN have also enhanced Canada's understanding of the fate of POPs in the Canadian environment. Close collaboration with the United States will continue and strengthen with the latest 5-year implementation plan signed in 2004.
Another atmospheric monitoring program is the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) network. Under the network, selected POPs (principally dioxins and furans) are measured at selected urban sites to assess trends and to aid in identification and verification of source emissions. Also, selected POPs (mainly dioxins) are measured as part of the program which measures and assesses emissions from stationary sources.
Canada also has several long-term monitoring programs looking at POPs in wildlife. The Great Lakes Herring Gull Monitoring Program was initiated in response to observations of poor reproductive success in colonial water birds in the Great Lakes in the early 1970's. Likewise, a variety of seabird species have been monitored on Canada's Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts and great blue herons are monitored as a bioindicator of the health of the St. Lawrence ecosystem. Other wildlife species, including polar bears, reptiles and amphibians are being studied. Temporal and trend monitoring of POPs is also carried out in fish in the Great Lakes and in beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River estuary.
In addition to ongoing monitoring networks, such as described above, Canada carries out research and short-term monitoring on a national scale in accordance with the need for information, and federal regional agencies, and provinces / territories also conduct monitoring studies. These research and monitoring programs include POPs, replacement chemicals and potential candidate POPs.
These national and regional POPs initiatives can provide information for ongoing risk management of the initial list of 12 Stockholm POPs. They can further strengthen risk assessment and management activities conducted under CEPA 1999 for substances which are potential candidate chemicals for addition to the Stockholm Convention. Analytical developments and research and monitoring data can be directly integrated into assessment and management activities. The fact that POPs undergo long-range transport highlights the importance of international cooperation in determining their environmental presence, sources and fate, and how to proceed with risk management.
At the international level, Canada participates in programs such as the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the Canada/Mexico/United States Trilateral Committee and the International Joint Commission. Through these and other partnering initiatives, Environment Canada and Health Canada encourage and participate in exchange of information, technology and training of scientists.
Through the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission on Environmental Co-operation (NAFTA CEC) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Working Group, Canada works to build capacity in Mexico, to develop and seek support for North American networks for monitoring using common protocols developed tri-nationally and to assess and integrate the knowledge on a North American basis in reports made public in the three countries.
Canada will assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition build their research and monitoring capacities through the Canada POPs Fund and through other bilateral and multilateral mechanisms as Canada deems suitable. For instance, there are well known and documented methods to measure (sample and analyze) POPs in most matrices (air, water, soil, tissue). Canadian laboratories, both public and private, have specific expertise in analyzing POPs in these media, and there is an opportunity for Canada to share this knowledge with other countries through capacity building and technology transfer initiatives. As an example of this knowledge transfer, Canada is leading a maternal blood monitoring project under the above-mentioned NARAPCECmonitoring and assessment program. This project will ensure that Mexico, the USA and Canada have a comparable program of human maternal contaminant monitoring for the 12 Stockholm POPs and a number of other contaminants. This project will increase analytical capacity in Mexico for these contaminants and ensure comparability through a rigorous quality assurance and quality control program.
A part of Canada's contribution to Article 16, Effectiveness Evaluation, the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling (GAPS) study was initiated by Canada at over 50 sites around the world in December 2004. The network will target POPs listed under the Stockholm Convention as well as candidate POP chemicals.
In summary, Canada will continue to support and develop its national and international efforts related to research and monitoring of POPs.
7.3 Information Exchange
Under Article 9 of the Convention, Parties are required to facilitate or undertake the exchange of information among Parties, relevant to:
- The reduction or elimination of the production, use and release of persistent organic pollutants; and
- Alternatives to persistent organic pollutants, including information relating to their risks as well as to their economic and social costs.
- The Parties shall exchange the information referred to in paragraph 1 directly or through the Secretariat.
- Each Party shall designate a national focal point for the exchange of such information.
- The Secretariat shall serve as a clearing-house mechanism for information on persistent organic pollutants, including information provided by Parties, intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations.
- For the purposes of this Convention, information on health and safety of humans and the environment shall not be regarded as confidential. Parties that exchange other information pursuant to this Convention shall protect any confidential information as mutually agreed.
During negotiations leading up to the Convention's entry into force, Canada has shared information with other countries and has responded to requests for information from them, and from the interim Secretariat, and will continue to do so. Canada has programs and initiatives in place that address the exchange of information between national governments, and can readily comply with this obligation through continuation of existing strategies. In addition, CEPA specifically allows for the exchange of information with the government of a foreign state or an international organization with the condition that the information be kept confidential. The new PCPA will similarly allow the sharing of information, including confidential test data and confidential business information, with another government provided that there is an agreement in place relating to the exchange of information about pesticides. Under both Acts, the responsible Minister must be satisfied that the law of the jurisdiction to which the information would be communicated enables the recipient of the information to prevent public disclosure of the information and the unfair use of the information by third parties for commercial purposes. Such law would have to be consistent with the provisions of the new PCPA which prohibit public disclosure of confidential business information, prevents third parties from obtaining copies of confidential test data and establishes a data protection policy governing the use or reliance on such test data by third parties.
Canada provides information and supports demonstration projects which illustrate practical methods to control POPs (such as pollution abatement technologies) and to find alternatives to their use (such as integrated pest management). These programs are sponsored and delivered by Canadian government agencies, often in partnership with the Canada's academic and private sectors. Canada also provides information and services on the Internet, such as Environment Canada's Green Lane and other government data bases, which are available to other governments and to the public.
Environment Canada's Transboundary Air Issues Branch served as Canada's focal point agency for information exchanged during the interim period of the Stockholm Convention and continues to do so now that the Convention has entered into force. While Environment Canada will act as the focal point, Foreign Affairs and the Pest Management Resource Agency of Canada can also act in this capacity with respect to their mandates. The UNEP Secretariat for the Convention has been informed of these roles.
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