New Environment Canada data shows a reduction in smelting and upstream oil and gas industry activity significantly cut national emissions for heavy pollutants like mercury, lead and cadmium over 2010 to 2011.
Environment Canada’s 2011 Air Pollutant Emission Summaries and Historical Emission Trends, released February 15, 2013, shows some progress for Canada’s air quality management strategies. Emissions of mercury, lead and cadmium dropped 23 per cent, 21 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, over 2010, the trends report says.
These same heavy metals decreased even further when examined over the last decade, the Environment Canada data shows. Since 1990, mercury, lead and cadmium dropped by nearly 90 per cent.
The trends report says other pollutants, such as dioxin and furan emissions, decreased by 21 per cent due to a reduction in emissions from municipal waste incineration, electric power generation, and industrial activity such as metal fabrication.
Emissions of smog-contributing nitrogen and sulphur oxides were down six and seven per cent, respectively, the trends report says. Sulphur emissions are down because of emission reductions from metal smelters and fossil-fueled electricity generation, while nitrogen emissions are down due to fewer emissions from mobile sources and less electricity power generation from fossil fuels such as coal.
The new data, however, does show that some pollutants have increased over 1990 to 2011. Emissions of total particulate matter increased by 35 per cent due to increased vehicular traffic on paved and unpaved roads, the trends report says. Ammonia emissions also increased by 22 per cent, primarily due to livestock.