An estimated 7 to 19% of cancers are currently attributable to toxic environmental and occupational exposures. One of several primary prevention policy approaches is toxics use reduction, which aims to promote changes in industrial and manufacturing processes to reduce the use and release of toxic chemicals. The goal of toxics use reduction is to reduce, substitute or eliminate the use and release of hazardous industrial pollutants by altering industry production processes, redesigning products and systems and rewarding innovative industries for using less hazardous chemicals. In 2010, Ontario took the lead in Canada and implemented the Toxics Reduction Act (Reg. 455/09). Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act will be repealed on December 31, 2021.
Until it is repealed at the end of 2021, Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act (TRA) requires four major manufacturing and mineral processing industrial groups, which already report their releases of pollutants to the federal National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), to additionally track and report their annual use, creation and release of prescribed toxic substances to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. These datasets are publically available online on the Ministry’s website.
The TRA was modelled after the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Act of 1989 (TURA), which has reported significant declines in carcinogen use and releases, including for example the decline in the use and release of lung carcinogens by 31% and 77%, respectively. Massachusetts has also reported economic benefits and technological advances in manufacturing, utilities and other sectors.
This project has two main goals, namely:
Data from 2011 to 2015 were downloaded and substances were identified by their name and chemical abstract service (CAS) number. The datasets also contain facility-level information on the number of workers employed, the facility’s industry sector code and its geographic location. The datasets were analyzed to examine industrial use and emission trends by sector, region and carcinogen type.
Two studies using data from the TRA have been completed which assessed trends in the use and emission of carcinogens by carcinogen type as well as by sector and geographic location. We also highlight the industrial use of particular carcinogens to indicate potential occupational exposures for setting cancer prevention priorities in Ontario Health’s 2020 report on the Prevention System Quality Index. The OCRC has also assessed the feasibility of using data from the TRA to establish an occupational exposure surveillance system.
The TRA allows us to follow trends in the use and emission of toxic chemicals, and discern where reductions are needed to prevent potential occupational and environmental exposures. The results of this study highlight the importance of maintaining the TRA in Ontario as an ongoing tool for exposure surveillance.
Ontario announced in 2019 that it would repeal its Toxics Reduction Act (TRA) on December 31, 2021 in an effort to avoid unnecessary duplication with the federal government’s Chemicals Management Plan. We continue to analyze trends in the industrial use and emission of toxic substances using data from the NPRI.