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Archived - Clean Air for Healthy Canadians

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Canada is committed to clean air for Canadians – for today, and for future generations. Environment Canada provides Canadians with first-rate information on the quality of air we breathe, how to protect ourselves from the effects of air pollution, and ways to reduce air pollution. Canada is making great strides in reducing air pollution through:

  • Regulatory initiatives that help reduce emissions of pollutants into our air;
  • Innovative science that helps Canadians understand air quality and its effects, and that informs Canada’s policies and strategies in protecting clean air;
  • Collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners, and partner countries around the world, which enables us to work together to improve air quality at home and abroad.

Clean air also contributes substantially to the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian economy, by improving worker productivity, and increasing the productive capacity of several key Canadian industries.

Regulatory Initiatives to Reduce Air Pollution

In meeting Canada’s commitment to operate as a world class regulator, Environment Canada has introduced and enforces regulations that restrict or eliminate certain pollutants, in order to improve air quality in Canada.

Environment Canada oversees regulations on:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): One regulation applying to 14 categories of coatings and surface cleaners used for refinishing or repairing the painted surfaces of automobiles, trucks, and other mobile equipment, and another applies to 53 categories of products such as paints, finishes, dyes, and varnishes.
  • Certain Motor and Engine Emissions: Regulations are also now in place to reduce smog-forming emissions from outboard motors and certain marine engines, vessels designed to use these engines, snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles.
  • Fuels and Transportation Emissions: Canada has realized significant emission reductions from its vehicle, engines and fuels regulations, which often work in concert to reduce emissions.

Environment Canada also anticipates a further regulatory initiative:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): The Government of Canada will publish, by year end, a Notice of Intent to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Regulating HFCs will enable Canada to reduce and limit potent greenhouse gas emissions which, if left unregulated, are expected to increase substantially in the next 10 to 15 years.

Taking regulatory action on HFCs will reduce and limit GHG emissions and will place Canada among nations taking early action on HFCs, some of which have global warming potentials more than 14,000 times that of carbon dioxide. 

Innovative, Science-based information for Canadians

Environment Canada’s work on clean air is based on world-renowned, sound and innovative air quality science, including modeling, atmospheric chemistry, physical process and emissions studies and monitoring.

Environment Canada has been a world leader in atmospheric ozone science for 50 years and continues to collect the information necessary to monitor ozone in the upper (stratosphere) atmosphere. Measurements of ozone and UV radiation are used to generate and validate the UV forecast. These measurements also support Canada’s obligations to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer. 

Environment Canada scientists also conduct research and development to help create state-of-the-science air quality forecast models. These models help predict the benefits of regulatory and policy development, assess the effectiveness of air regulations and contribute to ongoing improvements to Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index forecasts.

The health and safety of Canadians and protection of the environment remain top priorities of the Government of Canada.

Collaboration to Preserve Air Quality: At Home and Abroad

Domestic Action – Working with our partners to improve air quality in Canada

Environment Canada, in collaboration with Health Canada, has partnered with provinces and territories, municipal governments, stakeholders from industry, health, environmental and aboriginal organizations, and local health authorities to develop and deliver the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for communities across Canada. The AQHI is a public information tool that helps Canadians understand what air quality means to our health, make informed choices about their outdoor activities, and learn how to reduce air pollution.

This collaboration has also led to the development of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS), which help ensure that outdoor air quality is improved and that good outdoor air quality is maintained. The CAAQS are the first step in implementing the Air Quality Management System (AQMS). The AQMS enables all levels of governments to work collaboratively and efficiently to respond to the different air quality challenges across the country. These standards set objectives, based on health considerations, for outdoor air concentrations of fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone, which are the two major components of smog.

International Action for Clean Air

The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with other governments to reduce air pollution around the world. Canada is a Party to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which includes the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Under the Montreal Protocol, Canada is taking action to restore the ozone layer and, as a result of our efforts, ozone-depleting substance (CFCs and HCFCs) consumption in Canada has been reduced by almost 100%.

Canada also works closely with the U.S. to address transboundary air pollution issues through the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, and is working collaboratively through the Arctic Council, as well as with partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon. These reductions can result in both health and climate benefits.

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