Workers Health & Safety Centre

Toronto ChemTRAC report helps target cancer prevention, toxics reduction

Toronto ChemTRAC report helps target cancer prevention, toxics reduction
Cancer prevention, toxics reduction, air quality studies and helping at risk communities are among the stated priorities in Toronto Public Health’s (TPH) 2013 ChemTRAC Report.
Toronto’s ChemTRAC, the first program of its kind in Canada, is designed to protect public health and stimulate the greening of local businesses by tracking and reducing toxic chemicals in Toronto’s environment. Toronto’s Environmental Reporting and Disclosure Bylaw requires certain businesses to annually report their manufacture, use and release of 25 priority chemical substances that are at or above levels of concern for public health.
ChemTRAC reporting is phased in over three years, allowing businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to learn about the bylaw and their legal duties. ChemTRAC Phase 2 data draws from 2011 operations reports from Toronto businesses, among them auto body shops, crematoriums and dry cleaning services who reported for the first time.
Key findings include:
  • Of 1,638 businesses, 540 reported a total of 70,000 tonnes of priority substances as manufactured, processed or used in 2011. Eight per cent, or 5,600 tonnes, were released to the environment — mostly to the air.
  • Eight priority substances were targeted for greater public health attention including:
     o     Three smog-forming contaminants (volatile organic compounds, nitric oxides, fine particulate matter) released in large quantities, and
     o     Five substances — polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium, tetrachloroethylene, lead and mercury — released in smaller quantities but are
            more toxic in nature.   
  • Almost 500 Toronto businesses voluntarily reported ahead of the Phase 3 deadline.

ChemTRAC importantly collects information not captured by any other level of government. Remarkably, 85 per cent of businesses reporting to ChemTRAC in 2011 had no other legal duties to report on the toxic chemicals they make, use or release. Data from Toronto’s many small and medium-sized businesses complements data collected from larger facilities who file through Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). This latest ChemTRAC data for instance provides information on 77 per cent more carcinogenic releases not reportable under the NPRI.
To help Toronto businesses comply, TPH offers industry-specific information, reporting tools and pollution prevention resources.
Provincially, Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act requires certain businesses to track and quantify the toxic substances that they use and create. They must also develop specific toxics reduction plans and make summaries of their plans available to the public, however implementation of the plans are not mandatory.
Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA), passed in 1989, is considered model legislation. In Massachusetts, large chemical users report and carry out toxics reduction planning. Fees paid by reporting companies support several government agencies including the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI). In a recently published Report, TURI analyzed twenty years of TURA- reported data from Massachusetts companies and found:
·    Carcinogens use declined 32 per cent, and
·    Carcinogens released into the environment dropped by 93 per cent.
Want to learn more about enviromental and occupational carcinogens?
WHSC offers a number of training programs to help you identify and control workplace carcinogens. Don’t see what you need? Call us toll-free at 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative or email us at