TORONTO – The Ontario government’s introduction of a proposed Toxics Reduction Act is a significant step forward for the protection of the environment and human health, as well as for the creation of green jobs, Environmental Defence said today.
“The detox of Ontario has begun.  This Act will reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals and provide us with the tools to know what pollutants are being emitted in our communities,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, and co-author of the forthcoming book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck:  How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health”.
According to PollutionWatch (a joint project of Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association), Ontario is the largest air-emitter of cancer-causing chemicals in Canada. Data from 2004 (the most recent comparative data available) also showed that Ontario was second only to Texas in terms of tonnes of toxic chemicals being released and transferred in North America. Blood sample testing by Environmental Defence over the past few years has consistently shown that many hazardous chemicals, such as lead and mercury, are found in the bodies of Canadians.
The proposed Toxics Reduction Act will require major emitters of toxic substances to report and track their releases and uses, and create a plan for toxic use reduction. While implementation of these plans is not mandatory, a highly successful Massachusetts’ Toxics Use Reduction Act had a similar voluntary provision that led to a 91% reduction in environmental releases and a 64% reduction in toxic waste.
The Act’s pollution prevention approach would also help ensure the province does not get left behind in the emerging green economy.  The United States is currently updating federal legislation with regards to toxics use reduction, and similar legislation in some U.S. states has already been put into place with much success.  Massachusetts’ law has saved companies more than $14 million.
The introduction of the Act will also support Ontario manufacturers’ efforts to comply with the European Union’s REACH regulations, which will require that all products imported into the EU do not contain certain hazardous chemicals.
“This is just the kind of innovative, forward-thinking approach we need in Ontario to green our economy and remain competitive in an era when consumers are demanding greener, safer products,” said Smith.
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate change.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)