News Release Article from  Environment and Climate Change Canada

The Government of Canada releases the first national comprehensive evaluation of mercury in the Canadian environment

March 8, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario – Environment and Climate Change Canada

Today, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, released Canada’s first comprehensive, national synthesis and evaluation of scientific mercury research, the Canadian Mercury Science Assessment.

Mercury is a metal released into the ecosystem through both natural events, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions, and through human activities, such as coal burning and metal smelting. Mercury exposure poses a particular risk to those who rely heavily on the consumption of predatory fish and traditional wildlife food items and vulnerable groups like developing fetuses, infants, and children.

Key highlights of the Government of Canada assessment include:

  • Canadian mercury emissions have and will continue to decrease over time and are expected to stabilize in the future. During the period covered by the assessment, 1990 to 2010, Canadian mercury emissions to the air decreased by 85 percent.
  • Over 95 percent of mercury resulting from human activity that is deposited in Canada comes from foreign sources and global emissions of mercury are expected to continue increasing.
  • Levels of mercury in the air in Canada have only decreased by 18 percent on average from 1995-2010 due to emissions from global sources.
  • Exposure to methylmercury, the toxic form of mercury that accumulates in the body, remains a risk for certain land and water species and poses a particular risk to those who rely heavily on the consumption of predatory fish and certain traditional wildlife food items.

Canada’s mercury assessment provides the baseline measurements policy-makers and researchers need to understand how changes in mercury emissions and climate affect changes in mercury levels in the environment and humans.

Quote

“This assessment is the first comprehensive evaluation of mercury in the Canadian environment. Not only will it be useful for policy makers and researchers, it also supports government action to protect the health of Canadians and the environment.”
– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick Facts

  • During the period covered by the assessment, 1990 to 2010, Canadian mercury emissions to the air decreased by 85 percent.
  • However, ambient air levels of mercury in Canada have only decreased by 18 percent on average from 1995-2010 because over 95 percent of the mercury resulting from human activity that is deposited in Canada comes from foreign sources.
  • Mercury from foreign sources lands mostly in the Arctic where it adversely affects human health and the environment.

Associated Links

Contacts

Caitlin Workman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-938-9436

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-934-8008

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