A Chemical Canada
We depend on chemicals, be they
naturally occurring substances, or man-made. And so many of them
are harmful to nature and to ourselves;
There are some
23,000 chemical substances in use in the Canadian economy and
registered with Environment Canada's Domestic Substances List
Of these, the
industrial releases of 246 substances are monitored under the
Release Inventory (NPRI).
117 substances are
targeted for voluntary phase-out under the
Reduction and Elimination of Toxics (ARET) program.
25 substances have
been declared "toxic" under the
Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)
Under revisions to
CEPA in 1999, Environment Canada is required to categorize all
23,000 substances for their potential for exposure to
Canadians, or for their inherent toxicity and persistence or
bioaccumulation (CEPA, Section 73). This work is to be
completed within seven years (2006).
41 substances have
been identified under the
Agreement respecting the Great Lakes Basin for virtual
Sound confusing? It
is. There is little clarity in what chemicals are dangerous, to
whom, and at what level of exposure.
The simple answer --
live clean and go toxic free.
Buy organic food: at the very
least, look for organic food for the ten foods that are most
likely to have pesticide residues or high levels of
Use natural cleaning products:
avoid products with harsh chemicals and detergents.
Check your neighbourhood health store or eco-store for natural
Get your lawn off drugs:
avoid using pesticides on your yard. See
Pesticide Free Ontario for resources and tips.
Use rechargeable batteries:
the best electronic, hardware, grocery and department stores
now carry rechargeable batteries -- use them!
Save all your
leftover toxic products for safe disposal.
We wish there was a
better disposal system in place in Ontario for household
hazardous waste (HHW), but for the moment the best we can do is
refer you to the Stewardship Ontario "Orange
Drop" program. The program was designed by the
industry-led organization to help increase the return rates on
hazardous products (called "household special waste").
We've tested the
website and found that it most of the return sites listed are
municipal waste transfer stations and (in the case of Toronto)
councillor Environment Days (which are one day per year).
The program covers over 20 types of waste, but you are required
to search for the depot for each product type separately.
still early days for the vendor take-back model, but we still
believe that the only serious way to deal with residual
household hazardous waste is with a semi-annual curbside
collection of hazardous materials.
Heck, if the stuff
is okay to have around in our homes, surely we can leave the
waste in secure containers at the curb for pick-up.
Toxic Free: a community manual on organizing Toxic Free
campaigns (The Conservation Council of Ontario, 1995)