Phase 1 ChemTRAC Summary (2012)

The ChemTRAC program released Phase 1 data on the use and release of 25 priority toxic substances across Toronto in June 2012. 

The ChemTRAC program released Phase 1 data on the use and release of 25 priority toxic substances across Toronto in June 2012.

Phase 1 businesses include chemical manufacturers, food & beverage manufacturers, wood industries like furniture and paper producers, printers, waste/water treatment, and power generation.

The data is available online at   

Toronto Public Health has reviewed this data and released their first annual ChemTRAC program report which reviews the chemical data that was reported and provides suggestions for next steps to respond to potential health impacts, local air quality concerns and develop action plans for pollution prevention.

TEA attended the Toronto Board of Health meeting on Monday June 25th 2012 in order to learn more about next steps and offer our support for this groundbreaking program. We promoted the historic meeting to members of the public and our community partners were present to celebrate with us!

Key findings from ChemTRAC report and Phase 1 data

Preliminary findings suggest that 7 out of 25 priority substances were the most commonly reported substances in Phase 1. These include smog-forming contaminants such as VOCs, NOx and PM2.5 which were released in large quantities as well as four substances released in smaller quantities which pose health risks due to their toxicity. These toxic substances include known carcinogens such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and cadmium, as well as harmful heavy metals like lead and mercury. Here are a few other key findings:

  • 274 Phase 1 businesses reported chemical data in the first year (2010)

  • 88 Phase 1 businesses were exempt because they are either below reporting thresholds or do not use or release these substances at all. Keep an eye out for companies that are exempt but voluntarily

  • reported to showcase their green credentials!

  • 233 Phase 2 and Phase 3 businesses voluntarily reported ahead of schedule.

  • 55% of the Phase 1 businesses that had to report to ChemTRAC are not required to report to other levels of government (152 out of 274 facilities). This proves the value of ChemTRAC in filling a huge information gap on the release of harmful chemicals in Toronto.

  • Phase 1 facilities reported the manufacture, processing or use of approx. 66,000 tonnes of priority substances to ChemTRAC in 2010

  • Approximately 5,000 tonnes of priority substances were released into Toronto's environment, primarily into our air, in 2010.

  • This represents 8% of what was manufactured, processed or otherwise used by facilities.

  • Most of the Phase 1 facilities are primarily located inindustrial/commercial zones rather than residential areas. It is expected that Phase 2 facilities will be much more dispersed throughout the city and residential areas.

According to Toronto Public Health’s first annual ChemTRAC report, also released on June 18th, the preliminary findings of the Phase 1 data have already been put to good use. The chemical use and release data has helped Toronto Public Health identify key substances of concern and where they are released, which means they can better respond to potential health risks and local air quality issues. They have developed three key focus areas for 2012:

  1. Identify actions that can be taken to protect health. The ChemTRAC data will help Toronto Public Health identify substances of concern, pollution prevention and health promotion opportunities, and focus their attention on areas where harmful substances are released in areas with vulnerable/sensitive communities.

  2. Use ChemTRAC data to assist with local air quality studies. The Toronto Environment Office (TEO) is conducting air quality studies in Toronto. The first one was done in South Riverdale and next one is set for South Etobicoke. TEO is working with Toronto Public Health to assess the potential health impacts of local air quality based on emissions from local facilities, transportation corridors and other sources of pollution. Toronto Public Health has developed a set of criteria for choosing future locations for air quality studies, more information available here.  

  3. Support pollution prevention activities. It's very hard to manage what you don't measure. The ChemTRAC data is an essential first step in developing solutions to manage these substances. The ChemTRAC website is already full of pollution prevention guides for various business sectors and they continue to offer free webinars, e-learning courses, workshops and consultations to help business measure and control their use and release of toxic substances. Toronto Public Health has recently developed a business panel to collaborate on future pollution prevention opportunities.