Medical Officer of Health Moves to Disclose Pollution


November 6, 2008

Environmentalists and Communities Applaud Action

(Toronto) - Doctor David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH), recommends that Toronto pass a Community Right to Know Bylaw to mandate polluters to disclose their use and release of toxic substances. The Toronto Environmental Alliance and a coalition of more than 46 health and citizen groups applaud the move.

According to Dr. McKeown, 25 toxic substances occur in the Toronto environment at levels that pose a risk to health.  They include carcinogens such as cadmium, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. Eighty percent of these emissions are not publicly reported.

“Toronto’s air is toxic and we need to know why,” said Katrina Miller, Campaigns Director with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, “only then can communities, businesses, and our politicians work together to clean it up.”

The bylaw mandates companies to disclose their use and release of toxic chemicals. This information will then be publicly available to communities and neighborhoods across Toronto. Similar laws in the United States have led polluters to voluntarily reduce their pollution.

Among the bylaw’s many supporters is the Toronto Firefighters Association.  

“The Sunrise Propane fire is still fresh in all our minds,” said Miller. “When there is an accident, our communities and our firefighters need to know what chemicals are on site so that they can respond accordingly.”

The proposed program also provides new capacity in the City to help businesses figure out how they can reduce their pollution. Miller says that is an important part of greening Toronto’s industry.

“The bylaw will help companies gain a better understanding of their pollution. I think a lot of them will want to act on that information. The city will be there to help them clean up and reap some of the competitive rewards in the new green economy.”

If adopted by City Council, the bylaw recommended by the MOH will be the first of its kind in Canada and will cement Toronto’s credentials as a green municipal leader in North America.


For more information, contact Katrina Miller, Campaigns Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance 647-272-5024

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