Air Pollution from Burning Sewage

At TEA's request, the City finally released the Air Quality Impact study for Highland Creek's sewage treatment plant. Now we know how incineration 'stacks up' against pelletization and it's not good news.

TEA can now more clearly pinpoint how burning sewage pollutes Scarborough's air in a way that manufacturing fertilizer pellets would not.

The images below show how air pollution travels from the sewage incinerator into your neighbourhoods and even reaches local treasures like the Scarborough Bluffs, Highland Creek ravine and nearby parks.

Reference: Nitrogen Oxide air pollution map of proposed HCTP incinerators (Golder Associates, December 2015)

The map above shows the Nitrogen Oxide air pollution that would come from a new pair of incinerators at Highland Creek Treatment Plant. Nitrogen Oxides are already found in our air at high levels and this is a chemical of concern that contributes to poor respiratory health.

Compared to the other most likely option, a biosolids pelletizer, burning sewage in an incinerator would contribute far more air pollution (greater concentrations) and impact far more communities. The maps below shows the difference in Nitrogen Oxide air pollution from the two options. 

TEA Image: Created using Nitrogen Oxide air pollution maps from Golder Associates (2015) report.

It is also very important to note that the green spots on each map do not equal the same amounts of pollution, which can be very misleading at first glance! The greatest concentration of pollution from the pelletizer (0.25 ug/m3) is still three times lower than the concentrations from the incinerator (0.75 ug/m3).

The Air Quality Impact Assessment report also mapped the potential impacts of another substance called Chromium. This is a heavy metal and certain types of Chromium emissions (Chromium 6) can increase cancer risks. Click here to view the Chromium air pollution map for the proposed incinerator.

The report did not map or model all substances of concern, however we know that incinerators emit a much longer list of these substances, including potential carcinogens and persistent contaminants. To learn more about the health and air impacts, see the additional resources listed below. 

Tell the City you want clean air in Scarborough, not incinerators

From an environmental and health perspective, manufacturing fertilizer pellets is better than burning sewage.  The deadline for public comments has been extended until Friday January 15th. Submit your comments using our quick and easy action page:

Additional information

TEA blog, November 2015 - New health report identifies risk of burning 

All content on TEA website about the Highland Creek Treatment Plant

City of Toronto reports on impacts of various alternatives for Highland Creek Treatment Plant - - click on 'Technical Info' tab 

Golder Associates, December 2015. Class Environmental Assessment of Biosolids Management at the Highland Creek Treatment Plant - Air Quality Impact Assessment. Submitted to CIMA+, Report Number: 13-1151-0147.

Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc., October 2015. City of Toronto Highland Creek Treatment Plant (HCTP) Class EA - Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) Report.