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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2001 to March 2002

3. Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines, and Codes of Practice

3.1 Monitoring Environmental Quality

Part 3 of CEPA 1999 sets out requirements to establish, operate, and maintain an environmental monitoring system. Refer to the CEPA 1999 Environmental Registry for more information on monitoring activities.

Monitoring Programs

National Air Pollution Surveillance Network (NAPS)

Established in 1969, the NAPS is a joint federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal air monitoring network. In 2001-02, over $3 million dollars was spent upgrading the network, primarily to meet the needs for monitoring and reporting on implementing the Canada-wide Standards for particulate matter (PM) and ozone.

Air quality data was collected, validated, and archived in the NAPS database for criteria pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and total suspended particulate matter. Data were also collected on other pollutants, including particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 microns (PM10) and less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), particulate lead, particulate sulphate, nitric oxide, over 200 organic compounds, and over 70 metals and ions. The 2000 NAPS annual data report was completed and included data for the first time from volatile organic (VOC) samplers in support of the air toxics program under the Clean Air Agenda.

National Water Quality Monitoring

In May 2001, CCME Ministers committed to a three-year Action Plan on water that will link existing water quality monitoring networks to ensure Canadians have access to comprehensive information. The progress achieved in 2001-02 included the development of several inventories of water quality monitoring activities across Canada, including:

  • a draft federal water quality monitoring inventory;
  • a draft CCME federal-provincial-territorial water quality monitoring inventory;
  • a draft inventory of community-based source water quality monitoring activities across Canada; and
  • a draft inventory of federal source waters used for drinking water and recreation.

A departmental workshop was held in February 2002 with Environment Canada's water quality monitoring managers on a strategic plan for water quality monitoring in Environment Canada. Over 30 representatives from each region and relevant services participated in the workshop, which included presentations on regional and national programs, gaps and priorities, and discussions of key elements of a national water quality monitoring program.

Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network, managed by Environment Canada, links the many groups and individuals involved in ecological monitoring in Canada to better detect, describe, and report ecosystem changes. Essential elements include various national and regional monitoring programs, more than 80 long-term integrated ecosystem monitoring sites, and a diversity of ecological monitoring initiatives conducted by numerous collaborators at all levels of government, non-government organizations, and volunteers.

Notable results in 2001-02 include the continuing development and implementation of a standardized set of ecosystem monitoring protocols, collaborative development of a white paper and workshop towards a single approach to metadata-based distributed data management systems, and the coordinated reporting of ecosystem status and trends.

A key component of the program is NatureWatch - a suite of community-based monitoring programs implemented in cooperation with the Canadian Nature Federation. Almost 10 000 participants contribute their observations on indicators of ecosystem health from every province and territory, creating a clearer picture of the Canadian environment.

3.2 Research on the Effect of Pollution on Environmental Quality

Part 3 requires the Minister to conduct research and studies. The Minister of Health is obliged to research the effects of substances on human health. Both Ministers are also required to conduct and report on research on hormone-disrupting substances (HDSs). The Act also allows the Minister to collaborate with others on research and sponsor or assist research studies in relation to environmental quality, pollution prevention, environmental emergencies, or the control and abatement of pollution.

Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists have published hundreds of reports, papers, book chapters, articles, and manuscripts during 2001-02. The following sections provide examples of the types of research initiatives under way and their key results in 2001-02. Refer to the CEPA 1999 Environmental Registry and the Science and Technology Web sites for more information on research activities.


Major Threats to Drinking Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Health

  • Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury
  • Endocrine disrupting substances
  • Nutrients - nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Aquatic acidification
  • Ecosystem effects of genetically-modified organisms
  • Municipal wastewater effluents
  • Industrial point source discharges
  • Urban runoff
  • Landfills and waste disposal
  • Natural sources of trace element contaminants

Water Quality

Examples of research activities addressing water quality in 2001-02 included:

  • Perfluoroalkyl Substances in the Arctic - Small lakes from the high Arctic to industrialized temperate regions were sampled and analyzed, showing a trend of increased levels of perfluoroalkyl substances from the Arctic to industrialized areas as well as an increase in the HAA (haloacetic acid) concentrations. Research indicates that these substances are in surface waters and precipitation, distributed throughout the water columns of lakes that are adjacent to areas of high population in measurable concentrations, detected in precipitation collected at remote sites indicating long-range transport, and that industrial communities significantly contribute to higher concentrations (loadings) in adjacent water bodies.
  • Threats to Water Quality Workshop - Led by the National Water Research Institute, a group of Canadian scientists compiled a list of 15 major issues (of which several are CEPA 1999-related issues to be managed) that are posing threats to sources of drinking water and aquatic ecosystem health. The workshop report describes each of these issues and identifies critical questions to be answered as well as the challenges that researchers and governments will face in trying to resolve them.
  • Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Humans - Analysis of blood samples drawn from a small group of Canadians showed that perfluoroalkyl substances occurred in 100% of the sample population. The similarity of the data between Canada and the United States indicated a continental-wide exposure pattern to these substances.
  • Remediation of Abandoned Mines - The National Water Research Institute is assessing the impact from the dispersion of metals, such as cadmium, lead, and mercury, through stream discharges from abandoned mining sites in Cape Breton. Major ecosystem and human health concerns have led to a focus on discharges from abandoned mining and storage sites for coal, including priority metal sources, transport and retention mechanisms, and fate from selected areas of concern. A remediation program by the Cape Breton Development Corporation is in progress.
  • Trends in Mercury Exposure in Wild Birds - The National Wildlife Research Centre collected data on levels of mercury in eggs of various bird species in different parts of Canada, which provide unique information on temporal and geographical trends in mercury bioavailability. In some industrialized areas, levels of mercury in eggs of birds have demonstrated declining trends through time that mirror declining local or regional industrial emissions of mercury. However, in some other areas remote from industrial mercury contamination, opposite trends are observed. Together, this data suggests that, although mercury exposure in wildlife from traditional local point sources has declined, wildlife in some areas remote from point-source exposure are experiencing increasing mercury exposure.
  • Solar Detoxification of Groundwater - This project, jointly funded by Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development, studied the application of solar energy for the treatment of groundwater contaminated as a result of oil and gas production processes. The tests were used to develop a model to predict contaminant destruction rates.
  • Development of Rapid Methods for Measurement of Nitrification Rates - The Wastewater Technology Centre, in collaboration with an environmental consultant, developed a simple, quick, and inexpensive methodology to determine nitrification rates. Nitrification is a biological process that converts ammonia (one of the principal causes of toxicity in wastewater effluents) into nitrate. Rapid methods for measuring nitrification rates will assist operators to optimize the removal of ammonia by allowing them to react more quickly to changing conditions in their treatment process.

Air Quality

Examples of research results on air quality in 2001-02 included:

  • Precursor Contributions to Fine Particulate Matter - In support of actions to reduce smog, the report 2001 Precursor Contributions to Ambient Fine Particulate Matter in Canada was published. It provides new knowledge of the atmospheric chemistry, the nature of the source emissions and the role of meteorology, and the long-range transport of these substances.
  • Inventory and Ambient Air Data on PM- The third year of research was completed to determine the concentration, composition, and sources of airborne particles that are rich in or composed of carbon in Canada. Participants included the Environmental Technology Centre, Meteorological Service of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, and the National Research Council. The project is now applying the tools developed to generate the knowledge required to evaluate possible fuel and transportation standards or codes that may be needed to meet air quality objectives for PM in Canada.
  • Measurement of Emissions from Landfill Gas Combustion - Work continued on evaluating the effectiveness of landfill gas combustors (flares, engines, and boilers) for the destruction of VOCs and the potential formation of substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxins and furans, which are on the List of Toxic Substances. Other pollutants include particulate matter (PM), hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. To date, testing has been completed on three engines, one boiler, and one enclosed flare. This information is used to strengthen the estimation of releases of polluting gases to the atmosphere from landfills and related operations.


Examples of research results relating to biotechnology included:

  • New Genomics and Microbiology Laboratory - A new genomics and microbiology laboratory has been installed in the Wastewater Technology Centre in Burlington. This laboratory enhances Environment Canada's capacity in genomics research and will be used to track pathogens in Wastewater and Biosolids.
  • Deoxyribonucleic Acid Microarray - The National Water Research Institute explored the application of microarray technology on deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA, to identify pathogen and indicator species in microbial biotechnology products subject to the New Substances Notification Regulations. The design and testing of a prototype DNA microarray were completed in March 2002. A progress report on the development of DNA extraction methodologies and preliminary DNA microarray results on characterizing biotechnology products is currently under preparation.
  • New Molecular Biology Laboratory - A molecular biology laboratory was installed at the National Water Research Institute in Saskatoon to expand Environment Canada's capacity to investigate the potential ecological risks posed by commercial release of genetically modified organisms in the Canadian environment.
  • Genomics Laboratory - Health Canada established a DNA microarray laboratory to study and validate toxicogenomic approaches for the assessment of the risk posed by environmental pollutants.
  • Microbial Taxonomy - Research and technical expertise on CEPA related biotechnology products were used to advise evaluators with Health Canada and Environment Canada on the development of criteria for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) technical guidance document for microbial taxonomy and draft documents for establishing testing protocols of new substances (organisms). The latter involved participation in a multi-expert Micro Risk Panel (Canada-United States).
  • Microbiology Analysis - Environment Canada laboratory Committee decided to establish the Edmonton EC Laboratory as the centre of specialization for microbiological analysis in support of the New Substances Notification Regulation.

Hormone-disrupting Substances (HDS)

Examples of research activities addressing HDSs in 2001-02 included:

  • Toxic Substances Research Initiative- Research on Hormone-disrupting Substances (HDSs) is one of the priorities of the Toxic Substances Research Initiative, a program that is jointly managed by Environment Canada and Health Canada. Examples of research projects under way in 2001-02 included the following:
    • reproductive toxicity induced by trichloroethylene in mice and in humans;
    • human daily intake and mammalian immunotoxicity and reproductive toxicity of organotin;
    • impact of HDSs on amphibian health in agricultural ecosystems;
    • adverse reproductive effects of exposure to dioxin-like hormone disruptors;
    • effects of orchard pesticides on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife;
    • the effects of HDSs on seawater adaptability, growth and survival of salmon smolts;
    • HDSs in municipal sewage sludge;
    • detailed hormone assessments in wild fish and characterization of responsible HDSs;
    • role of thyroid hormone function in the neurotoxic effects of developmental exposure to a mixture of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) found in Canadian populations; and
    • effects of exposure to a mixture of dioxins, furans and PCBs on estrogen metabolism, hepatic effects and mammary tumour development.

  • National Water Research Institute - The Institute continued to develop and apply methods for screening the effects of hormone-disrupting substances on aquatic ecosystems. Examples of activities in 2001-02 included the following:
    • development of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for trout and carp, which will provide tools to measure estrogenic effects in a variety of fish species that are important in the Great Lakes and other parts of Canada; and
    • assessment of responses in complex environmentally relevant effluents, such as a bleached sulphite pulp and paper mill effluent that discharges to the Saint John River in New Brunswick, and a model-scale sewage effluent plant in Sault Ste. Marie.

  • National Wildlife Research Centre - The Centre developed a method to measure vitellogenin in avian blood plasma. Vitellogenin, an egg yolk protein normally produced in laying females, has been used as an indicator of exposure to environmental estrogens in fish when detected in male fish blood. Vitellogenin was detected in the blood of male herring gulls from the Detroit River but not in those collected from a reference site on Lake Huron, indicating that these birds may be exposed to estrogenic contaminants in their fish-based diet.

  • Wastewater Technology Centre - The Wastewater Technology Centre completed a study on hormone-disrupting substances in municipal effluents. The project determined the prevalence of hormone-disrupting substances in wastewater effluents and biosolids and found that nitrifying and underloaded wastewater treatment facilities could reduce the concentration of some of these compounds. Preliminary results indicate a 97% removal of HDSs in a nitrifying wastewater treatment plant compared with an 88% removal in a conventional wastewater treatment plant.

3.3 Technology Development

Examples of research into technology development in 2001-02 included:

  • Microwave-Assisted Processes (MAPTM) Green Technology - Work continued on developing energy-efficient, clean, solvent-free alternatives for chemical synthesis. Pilot-scale demonstrations continued to apply the MAPTM technology for the extraction of canola oil. One new piece of equipment was used to assess the potential of substituting liquefied butane for hexane in the extraction of oilseeds. Another was used to optimize energy application and potentially further reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the processing stage of edible oil manufacturing.
  • Treatment of Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflow - This project is investigating pollution control measures for urban stormwater and combined storm sewer overflows, which are a major source of wet-weather pollution to surface water. Physical and chemical treatment generally consists of solid/liquid separation and disinfection; however, fine suspended material is not easily removed, may consume oxidizing agents, or produce undesirable by-products during disinfection. Preliminary results from the pilot study in Toronto show approximately 80% removal of total suspended solids by the addition of polymers, indicating that this may be a practical and cost-effective option.
  • Treatment Processes for the Removal of Ammonia from Municipal Wastewater Discharge - The Wastewater Technology Centre produced a guidance report entitled Treatment Processes for the Removal of Total Ammonia Nitrogen from Municipal Wastewater Discharge to assist municipal wastewater treatment plant managers in selecting technologies for the removal of total ammonia nitrogen.
  • Development and Evaluation of an Enhanced Soil Flushing Technology - This project is developing an enhanced in situ soil flushing process for the simultaneous removal of organic contaminants and heavy metals. Sites with the mixed contamination represent a significant group among contaminated sites and are often associated with fuel refineries and power generation plants. The cleaning solution increases the solubility of many organic contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and solvents, making them easily removed from the soil. The cleaning agents are non-toxic, very inexpensive, and readily available.
  • Heavy Oil and Orimulsion® Pumping - This project, funded jointly by Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, evaluated methods of pumping heavy oil once it has been collected in water in a spill situation. The testing occurred in January through February of 2002 using a modified oil spill skimmer pump. The results of the testing indicate that heavy oil or bitumen, such as recovered Orimulsion®, can be effectively pumped using an innovative pumping technique. Previous tests using conventional pumping equipment failed to move recovered Orimulsion®.

3.4 Objectives, Guidelines, and Codes of Practice

The Act requires that the Minister of the Environment issue objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice for preserving environmental quality of the environment. The Act also requires the Minister of Health to issue objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice with respect to the elements of the environment that may affect the life and health of the people of Canada.

Environmental Quality Objectives

Environment Canada has made progress in developing environmental quality objectives as performance measures for the aquatic environment. Development of an environmental quality objective framework is under way that will combine substance-specific Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, or other measures, with biological effects monitoring to give an integrated measure of the health of the aquatic receiving environment. This framework will assist federal risk managers, the public, and the regulated community in assessing progress towards improving and sustaining environmental quality.

Environment Canada, in conjunction with Health Canada, is addressing the issue of source water protection. This includes evaluating the use of Environmental Quality Objectives as a means for assessing public health risks from waters used for drinking water sources.

Environmental Quality Guidelines

In cooperation with the CCME, Environment Canada participates in the development of Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. These guidelines are widely used across federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and in over 45 countries, to assess the status and trends of environmental contamination in water bodies and to manage toxic substance risks in the environment. Guidelines are developed for all media (water, sediment, soil, and tissue) and resource uses, including protection of aquatic life, agricultural uses (irrigation and livestock watering), and land uses (agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial).

In 2001-02, four new environmental quality guidelines were finalized, and sixteen others were under development for water, sediment, soil and tissue (see Table 1).

Table 1: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines under Development in 2001-02
GuidelinePublishedWork in progress
Water qualityammoniaaluminum, mercury, nitrate, phosphorus, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, sulfolane, diisopropanolamine, inorganic fluorides* nonylphenol and its ethoxylates**
Sediment qualitydioxins and furansnonylphenol and its ethoxylates*
Soil quality uranium, sulfolane, diisopropanolamine, dioxins and furans**, selenium*, nonylphenol and its ethoxylates*, uranium, sulfolane, diisopropanulamine
Tissue qualitymethylmercury, dioxins and furans 

* Approved in June 2002, and published in November 2002
** Approved in December 2001, and published in November 2002

The development of a water quality index was also completed. This index is based on a suite of water quality guidelines and provides a consistent mechanism for reporting on the overall quality, or ranking, of a water body. A pilot project was also conducted in 2001-02, using nonylphenol and its ethoxylates as a test case, to examine how environmental quality guidelines can be used in the risk management of CEPA 1999 toxic substances.

Environmental Choice Guidelines

The Environmental ChoiceM Program is a collaborative effort between Environment Canada and TerraChoice Environmental Services Inc. The program is designed to support a continuing effort by Canadians to improve and maintain environmental quality by reducing the consumption of energy and materials, and by minimizing the negative impacts of pollution generated by the production, use and disposal of goods and services available to Canadians.

On December 8, 2001, Environment Canada published draft Guidelines on Renewable Low-Impact Electricity under the Environmental ChoiceM Program. The draft guidelines aim to promote the use of renewable, more sustainable fuels, reduce air emissions and solid wastes, and reduce the impact on the environment from electricity-generating activities.

Environmental Choice Program - Guideline on Renewable Low-impact Electricity

Codes of Practice

In 2001-02, three codes of practice were finalized or under way:

  • Integrated Steel Mills and for Non-integrated Steel Mills - Codes of Practice for Integrated Steel Mills and for Non-integrated Steel Mills were published in December 2001. Implementation is under way.

  • Dichloromethane-based Paint Strippers- Consultations were held on the development of a code of practice for the safe handling, use and storage of dichloromethane-based paint strippers in commercial furniture refinishing and other stripping applications.

    Draft Code of Practice for the Safe Handling, Use and Storage of Dichloromethane-based Paint Strippers in Commercial Furniture Refinishing and Other Stripping Applications

  • Base Metal Smelters and Refineries - A draft Code of Practice for Base Metal Smelters and Refineries was developed and discussed at a national workshop on the environmental performance of the base metal smelting sector on March 7-8, 2002.

    Codes of Practice

  • Wood Preservation - Code of Practice encompassing best design and operating practices for wood treating facilities in Canada was published in March 1999. The requirements outlined in these codes are now being implemented by all facilities across Canada under voluntary agreements. Full compliance with the codes will be achieved by 2005. Facilities which fail to meet implementation agreements following annual reviews of progress, will be captured under the Pollution Prevention provision of CEPA 1999.

3.5 Reporting

The Act requires that the Minister publish a periodic report on the state of the Canadian environment and establish and publish a national inventory of releases of pollutants.

State of the Environment Reports

Periodic state of the environment reporting is done as part of the Vision for Federal State of Environment Reporting in Canada under the five natural resource departments. Environment Canada contributes reports as well as coordination and support for this work. Indicators, reports, data, and tools are housed or referenced through the State of Canada's Environment Infobase.

In 2001-02, four national State of the Environment reports and a brochure were released:

  • Tracking Key Environmental Issues covers trends related to Environment Canada's priorities and explains where further research and data are needed.
  • Nutrients in the Canadian Environment examines the release of nutrients in excessive amounts into the Canadian environment, the environmental and socioeconomic effects of these releases, and measures being undertaken to address the effects.
  • The State of Municipal Wastewater Effluents in Canadahighlights the status and trends of the release of municipal wastewater effluents in Canada, their effects on the environment and the health of Canadians, and actions being undertaken.
  • State of the Great Lakes 2001 is a joint effort of Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
  • The Vision for Federal State of the Environment Reporting in Canada is a brochure that highlights the process for State of the Environment reporting by federal departments as part of their research and information responsibilities.

Environmental Indicator Reports

Environmental indicators are statistics or parameters that, tracked over time, provide information on trends in environmental changes, stresses causing them, how the ecosystem and its components are responding to these changes, and societal responses to prevent, reduce, or ameliorate these stresses. In 2001-02, Environment Canada released two indicator reports:

  • Urban Water Indicators: Municipal Water Use and Wastewater Treatment examines trends in daily municipal water use in Canada, metered residential water use, and the municipal population served by various levels of wastewater treatment.
  • Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Ecosystem Indicators Report, prepared by Environment Canada, British Columbia, the United States, and the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team, reports on the shared ecosystem of Georgia Basin/Puget Sound.

Environment Canada also contributed national environmental indicators to Treasury Board's Canada's Performance 2001 report. The indicators covered air quality, water quality, biodiversity, and toxic substances in the environment.

Indicator Tools

In March 2002, Environment Canada hosted a workshop on the evolution, applications, and possible challenge of environmental indices. It attracted an international panel of experts in index development. The results of the workshop will help in the development of indicators by Environment Canada.

During 2001-02, a prototype Internet version of the Sustainability Community Indicators package was developed for testing by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It replaces the software package released in June 2000. The program helps communities develop indicators, monitor their progress towards sustainable development, and facilitate the exchange of indicator-related information.

National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI)

The NPRI is the only legislated, nationwide, publicly accessible inventory of its type in Canada. It provides Canadians with information on key pollutants being released to the environment from facilities located in their communities. It tracks on-site releases of pollutants to air, water, and land; off-site transfers in waste; and off-site transfers for recovery, reuse, recycling, and energy recovery. The data are used in conducting research, formulating environmental objectives and codes of practice, issuing guidelines, tracking progress in the management of toxic substances, and reporting on the state of the environment. Canadians can search for pollutants in their community by typing in the first three digits of their postal code.

In December 2001, Environment Canada published new NPRI reporting requirements for the 2002 reporting year, which include the addition of air pollutants that contribute to smog and other forms of air pollution. These pollutants, known as criteria air contaminants, include sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. The annual reporting of emissions of criteria air contaminants will allow for comprehensive inventories of these pollutants on an annual basis rather than at the present five-year interval. The inventory will allow Canadians to track releases from both industrial and large commercial facilities, and from other sources, such as motor vehicles, residential fuel combustion, and natural sources that contribute to emissions of these pollutants. The new reporting requirements also result in reporting from more municipal wastewater facilities and lower reporting thresholds for certain heavy metals.

National Pollutant Release Inventory

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