June 12, 2006

Ontario to consult on new limits for 15 high-priority substances

The Ontario government is proposing stringent new or updated standards for 15 harmful substances. In Toronto last week, provincial Environment Minister Laurel Broten told the 7th Annual Smog Summit that the government plans to consult on updating air standards for the high-priority substances, among them lead, cadmium, sulfur compounds and toluene.

The limits for these substances will be reviewed in light of improved scientific information, updated research on associated health risks and new air dispersion models. The standards will be used primarily to assess and manage local impacts from industries on surrounding neighbourhoods and communities.

The substances for which new standards will be developed include: lead and lead compounds; cadmium and cadmium compounds; ethylene oxide; chlorine dioxide; chloroethane; n-butanol; 1,1-dichloroethane; isobutanol; methyl chloride; phosphoric acid; propylene; sulfuric acid; total reduced sulfur (TRS) and compounds, including hydrogen sulfide mercaptans (as methyl mercaptan), dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethyl disulfide (DMDS); trimethylbenzene (TMB) isomers, including 1,2,3-TMB, 1,2,4-TMB and 1,3,5-TMB; and toluene.

The 2006 Smog Summit, co-hosted by the Clean Air Partnership and the City of Toronto, was held at Toronto city hall, where Mayor David Miller outlined announced the city's latest environmental commitments.

He reported that so far this year, city council has approved $6 million in new funding for energy retrofit work at municipal recreation centres during 2006 and 2007. In addition to improving the facilities overall, these energy retrofits are expected to result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions and lower operating costs through increased energy efficiency. The estimated 20% reduction in energy consumption should yield annual savings of $750,000. Since 2003, Toronto has invested a total of $30 million in energy retrofit programs.

Toronto is also investing in solar energy pilot projects at two city-operated swimming pools and two fire halls, as well as solar wall projects at Scadding Court Community Centre and a Toronto Police Service facility.

Miller further noted that 25 new, technologically advanced street sweepers will be added to Toronto's equipment fleet in 2006 and 2007. These sweepers remove and capture over 90% of fine particulate road dust without creating clouds of this fine particulate matter which can contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

The Smog Summit began in 2000 as a meeting where federal, provincial and City of Toronto officials could explore best practices for reducing smog, air pollution and greenhouse gases. It has now grown to include other municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area committing to specific actions that reduce smog, identifying mutually beneficial opportunities and sharing best practices.

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